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Manchester United 'have concrete interest in appointing Championship manager'

Man Utd 'have concrete interest in appointing Championship manager'
© Reuters
Manchester United identify Ipswich Town head coach Kieran McKenna as a potential successor to Erik ten Hag, according to a report.

Manchester United have identified Ipswich Town head coach Kieran McKenna as a potential successor to Erik ten Hag, according to a report.

Ten Hag's debut campaign at Old Trafford was deemed a relative success by many as he steered the Red Devils to EFL Cup glory and third-placed finish in the Premier League last season.

However, the Dutchman has endured a difficult 2023-24 campaign, which has led widespread speculation surrounding his future under new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Although United are still in the hunt to win the FA Cup, with a semi-final clash against Coventry City to come later this month, the Red Devils crashed out of the Champions League group stage at the end of last year and are now at risk of missing out of qualification for Europe's most prestigious club competition next season.

Indeed, the Red Devils have won only 15 of their 29 Premier League matches this term and currently sit sixth in the table, eight points behind fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with only nine games left to play.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna celebrates after the match on January 13, 2024© Reuters

McKenna emerges as strong contender for Man United job

Recent reports have suggested that Man United have drawn up a shortlist of managers who could succeed Ten Hag this summer, with the likes of England's Gareth Southgate, Sporting Lisbon's Ruben Amorim and soon-to-be-departing Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel believed to be on their radar.

However, according to Football Insider, Man United could turn their attention to a former employee in the form of 37-year-old McKenna, who is said to have emerged as strong contender to be the next Red Devils manager.

McKenna spent three years as an assistant coach under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man United between 2018 and 2021 before taking his first senior managerial role at Ipswich.

The report adds that Old Trafford chiefs have been 'hugely impressed' with McKenna's transformation of Championship side Ipswich, who are in contention to earn back-to-back promotions.

McKenna's 'character and profile', as well as his superb track record with the Tractor Boys, is said to be admired by Man United, with sources claiming that he is viewed as a 'future manager' at Old Trafford.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna on September 19, 2023© Reuters

Would a Man United reunion appeal to McKenna?

Since joining Ipswich in December 2021, McKenna has won 73, drawn 33 and lost 19 of his 125 matches in charge of the club across all competitions, and he successfully steered the Suffolk-based outfit to automatic promotion from League One last season.

Ipswich have since exceeded expectations in the Championship this term under the tutelage of McKenna and currently sit top of the table with only six games remaining – the Tractor Boys are on course to secure promotion to the Premier League for the first time since 2001-02.

McKenna is understood to have attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs in recent months, but he is currently under contract at Portman Road until June 2027.

The former Red Devils coach needs to weigh up whether he wishes to continue with his exciting project at Ipswich or make the seismic jump to the highest level with Man United at such an early stage in his coaching career.

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