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Manchester United, Chelsea 'face stern competition from fellow Premier League club for 38-year-old manager'

Man Utd, Chelsea 'face competition from fellow PL club for 38-year-old manager'
© Reuters
Manchester United and Chelsea reportedly face stern competition from another Premier League club in the race for Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna.

Manchester United and Chelsea reportedly face stern competition from another Premier League club in the race for Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna.

The 38-year-old has emerged as one of England's brightest young coaches since taking the reins at Portman Road in December 2021, having previously spent three years as an assistant coach under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man United.

McKenna has successfully steered Ipswich to back-to-back promotions, with a second-placed finish in the Championship this season securing the club's return to the Premier League for the first time in 22 years.

In recent weeks, McKenna has been the subject of interest from top-flight giants Man United and Chelsea, who are believed to be considering a change of manager ahead of the 2024-25 campaign.

Erik ten Hag has been in charge of a Red Devils side that have been condemned to their lowest-ever Premier League finish of eighth place this term, and minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe is believed to be weighing up the Dutchman's future at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino's future is allegedly still under review by Chelsea's hierarchy, even though a strong end to the campaign helped the Blues secured a sixth-placed finish and European football for next season.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna on April 30, 2024© Reuters

Brighton step up pursuit of McKenna

McKenna is believed to be one candidate under consideration by both Man United and Chelsea, but they are seemingly set to face stern competition from another English club.

According to The Guardian, Brighton & Hove Albion are 'pushing' to secure the services of McKenna, who has been identified as their primary target to replace Roberto De Zerbi.

The Seagulls announced on Saturday that De Zerbi will have his contract terminated by mutual consent, a year on from securing their highest-ever Premier League finish of sixth under the Italian.

It is claimed that McKenna 'is in line' to make the move to the Amex Stadium if 'all the pieces fall in place' and Brighton agree a deal with Ipswich.

Although there is confidence that Brighton can strike a deal with Ipswich, it is thought that McKenna could opt to continue at Ipswich and wait until vacancies arise at either Chelsea or Man United.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna celebrates after the match on March 29, 2024© Reuters

Will McKenna stay at Ipswich?

McKenna has previously hinted at a future return to Man United, telling reporters in December 2021, "It's a fantastic club to work for. I was happy there. I could see a future there [at United].

"But it was an ambition I've had right throughout my coaching career to go into management. When the initial contact came from Ipswich, I knew the background of the club, it's obviously a club with fantastic traditions and history."

McKenna has since insisted that he is happy in his current role at Ipswich and is "focused on enjoying that journey" as they prepare for life in the Premier League.

Speaking after the club's final game of the season at home to Huddersfield Town, McKenna said: "I love it here, it's a fantastic club. I'm so proud to be the manager of this football club and I've worked so hard at it every day. I give so much of myself.

"I'm just focused on enjoying that journey. The speculation has been there for the last two years to be honest and I've shown loyalty to the club through that.

"I'm really pleased that I've stuck with it and how we've achieved what we have achieved. There are some big and exciting steps to come for the football club."

Despite the interest in McKenna's services, Ipswich are determined to keep hold of their manager, who is under contract at Portman Road until the summer of 2027.

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