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Chelsea 'join Manchester United in race for Championship manager'

Chelsea 'join Man United in race for Championship manager'
© Reuters
Chelsea reportedly eye up Ipswich Town head coach Kieran McKenna - also linked with Manchester United - as a potential successor to Mauricio Pochettino.

Chelsea have reportedly joined Premier League rivals Manchester United in the race to sign a highly-rated Championship head coach amid doubts over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

The Argentine's first season at the Blues helm has been a mixed bag, as his side initially struggled to escape mid-table obscurity but managed to reach the 2023-24 EFL Cup final in February.

A 1-0 loss to an injury-hit Liverpool prolonged Pochettino's wait for a maiden major honour in English football, though, and the Blues have also experienced their fair share of underwhelming Premier League results.

However, the closing stages of the season have seen a marked improvement in Chelsea's fortunes, and the sixth-placed Blues are on the cusp of returning to European football for the 2024-25 season.

Pochettino's men require just a point against Bournemouth on Sunday to maintain their current standing - which would either see them qualify for the Europa League or Europa Conference League depending on the result of the FA Cup final - while they are also still capable of pipping Tottenham Hotspur to fifth place.

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

Chelsea 'monitoring Ipswich Town's Kieran McKenna'

Chelsea's rise from mediocrity has boosted Pochettino's prospects of keeping his job, but according to The Guardian, club chiefs are still undecided on whether to keep the Argentine at the club.

The report claims that the Blues are keeping a close eye on Ipswich Town's Kieran McKenna amid the uncertainty, after the 38-year-old achieved remarkable back-to-back promotions with Ipswich Town.

The Tractor Boys were in League One as recently as the 2022-23 season, but they will be playing Premier League football again in 2024-25, having amassed a staggering 96 points from 46 games to finish second in the Championship behind champions Leicester City.

McKenna's work is believed to have caught the eye of Manchester United, who could sack Erik ten Hag at the end of the season and previously employed the 38-year-old as a youth coach, but he is also rumoured to be a top candidate on the Stamford Bridge list.

Contact has supposedly already been made with McKenna's representatives as Pochettino awaits an end-of-season review with the Chelsea board, who are not thought to be in total agreement when it comes to keeping him at the club.

Should Chelsea sever ties with Pochettino this summer?

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino during EFL Cup final on February 25, 2024.© Reuters

Pochettino's recent admission that he had postponed his summer holidays due to the uncertainty surrounding his position was an understandable one, as the Chelsea board have already cut one long-term project short.

While Graham Potter's exit was somewhat inevitable - the ex-Brighton & Hove Albion boss always had the look of a small fish in a big pond at Stamford Bridge - firing Pochettino is surely not the answer.

As the team's master tactician and matchday planner, the Argentine certainly shoulders some of the blame for the Blues' failure to get back into the Champions League, but he cannot control the owners' well-documented reckless spending and has done his best with the resources at his disposal in his first season.

Since the start of March, the 5-0 loss to a title-chasing Arsenal has been the only performance to raise any real alarm, and Chelsea enter the final weekend on an applaudable four-game winning streak, scoring twice in each of those successes.

Pochettino can also take credit for Cole Palmer's unexpected explosion, while also finding a formula for Conor Gallagher and Moises Caicedo to work together successfully in recent weeks, so sacking him at this juncture would make little sense.

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