Manchester United first team coach Kieran McKenna has left the club to take up the managerial role at Ipswich Town. The Fermanagh native will join the League One side after four years at Old Trafford where he worked under Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and briefly Ralf Rangnick.
Speaking to the Ipswich Town club site McKenna said: "Leaving a club like Manchester United was obviously a difficult decision, but I strongly believe in the opportunity to build something here. It feels like the right time, project and Club to make my first step into first-team management. For now, the focus for the team has to be on a huge game on Saturday. After that, I cannot wait to meet everyone and get to work."
💬 "Leaving a club like Manchester United was obviously a difficult decision, but I strongly believe in the opportunity to build something here."
🔵⚪️ #itfc pic.twitter.com/W5509bRLS3
— Ipswich Town FC (@IpswichTown) December 16, 2021
Ipswich Town CEO Mark Ashton added; "Kieran is a highly-respected young coach who has been working at the top level of English football and with one of the biggest clubs in world football for a number of years in Manchester United. He comes to the Club with pedigree within the game and with exciting plans about how he is going to take the team forward. When we met, there was a clear meeting of minds in terms of how we will execute the vision of this football club."
Kieran McKenna now becomes the youngest manager in the EFL at 35-years old but in his short career he has become a highly regarded coach. McKenna was part of the Tottenham Hotspur academy but had to retire prematurely in 2009 after a hip injury.
He quickly moved into coaching at Spurs and in 2015 took charge of their under-18s team, leading them to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup that same year. A year later in 2016 McKenna would move to Manchester where he worked in their academy before being promoted as Manchester United first team coach by Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2018.
McKenna became something of a bete noire of Manchester United Twitter this season as the club's form dipped woefully and anonymous players allegedly criticised his training methods.
Even if he pre-dated the hiring of Solskjaer, McKenna's decision to move to Ipswich formally ends the Olé era.
So that’s Solskjaer, Carrick, McKenna and Pert all gone.
I know this might not be the fashionable thing to say but we went from yo-yoing to finishing 3rd then 2nd.
It was stable progress… those coaches weren’t incapable just because Twitter said so. It is a risk to change.
— Wayne Barton (@WayneSBarton) December 17, 2021
He stayed on after the sackings of both Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer but will now take up his new role at Portman Road from December 20th. It will be fascinating to see how the Fermanagh man does with the Tractor Boys. Many experienced football people clearly rate McKenna as a manager. While he was something of a fall guy for Solskjaer, he'll now have the opportunity to prove his merits.
McKenna joins the line of Northern Irish managers in the Football League with Brendan Rodgers, Michael Duff, Grant McCann and Stephen Robinson, only Scotland and England have more managers among the 92 clubs.