Kieran McKenna: Manchester United meet with representatives of Ipswich boss amid Chelsea interest

23 May 2024, 18:14 | Updated: 24 May 2024, 18:26

Manchester United and Chelsea face a possible battle for their new head coach after Sky Sports News learned that United officials have met with representatives of Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna.

It is now clear that both Man Utd and Chelsea have McKenna on their shortlist of possible candidates - even though United have yet to decide whether to stick with Erik ten Hag next season.

Sky Sports News has also learned that Ipswich Town majority shareholder Ed Schwartz has flown into the UK from the United States for talks with the club's chief executive officer Mark Ashton and McKenna.

It is understood discussions are over a proposed new deal for McKenna. Ipswich want him to remain at the club and hope a lucrative offer may convince him to stay.

McKenna is one of three names being considered by Chelsea to replace Mauricio Pochettino who left by mutual consent earlier this week, alongside Brentford's Thomas Frank and Leicester City's Enzo Maresca.

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But the news that Manchester United have made initial approaches to McKenna too, in case they decide to change their manager after this weekend's FA Cup Final, has added a complex new dimension to the situation.

McKenna has been joined on United's four-man shortlist by Pochettino and former Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel, who are both free agents, along with Frank.

Should United lose to Manchester City at Wembley, there would be no European football at Old Trafford next season, after an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League.

Sky Sports News has been told that McKenna's representatives met with the new Manchester United chief executive Omar Berrada and technical director Jason Wilcox last week, where the prospect of him taking over the first team was discussed.

Manchester United declined to comment when contacted by Sky Sports News.

The club's focus is on the FA Cup final, with no decisions before then, and the season will be reviewed after the City match.

Meanwhile, SSN understands Ipswich want McKenna to stay and lead the club on their return to the Premier League.

Ten Hag's focus on FA Cup glory not his future

Ten Hag said recently he is confident "common sense" will prevail when his bosses decide whether to keep him on as manager. He also said on Thursday his sole focus is on winning the FA Cup rather than talk about the potential of it being his final match as Manchester United manager.

United are looking to salvage a poor, injury-hit season by beating their neighbours City at Wembley. They bowed out of Europe before Christmas and limped home in eighth place - their lowest ever Premier League finish - as speculation continues over boss Ten Hag's future.

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Asked about some people suggesting this weekend's final could be his last match as United manager, Ten Hag chuckled and said: "I have nothing to say.

"I am just focusing on the job I have to do and that is first win the game on Saturday and then we are in the project. Keep going in the project."

'Man Utd and Chelsea both have McKenna as a serious contender'

Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:

"It is really significant news because we have been talking an awful lot about the Ipswich Town manager in recent weeks, not least because he managed to get the unfancied Championship side promoted to the Premier League, way beyond their expectations, but he has been linked with the Chelsea job.

"Two of the key king makers at Manchester United, two of the members of the Manchester United hierarchy, new chief executive Omar Berrada and technical director Jason Wilcox, have met with the representatives of the Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna.

"That happened last week and that clearly shows just how highly rated Kieran McKenna is right now - the fact that two of the biggest clubs in Europe and in world football in Manchester United and Chelsea both have him on their radar, both have him as a serious contender.

"In Chelsea's case as they look for a successor to Mauricio Pochettino and in Manchester United's case should they wish to change the manager after the FA Cup final this weekend, and you just wonder how pivotal that cup final could be for Erik ten Hag.

"Remember the team finished eighth in the Premier League under his stewardship this season. If they don't win the FA Cup they will not have European football next season. Could that be the ultimate deciding factor in whether he stays on as manager or not."

Chelsea appointment expected next week | Frank, Maresca, McKenna in frame

Chelsea are on the hunt for a new boss and are expected to appoint a new head coach by the end of next week.

The leading candidates are Frank, Maresca and McKenna. All three men are seen as having the right attributes for the job. Frank is admired for the job he has done at Brentford, McKenna for his achievements at Ipswich Town and his coaching experience at Manchester United.

Leicester manager Maresca appeals particularly because of his style of play, and like Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, he worked with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

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There is also a high-profile mystery name who is under consideration to take over from Mauricio Pochettino. Chelsea have also looked at a small number of other names including Sebastian Hoeness - the Stuttgart manager - and Roberto De Zerbi.

The new Chelsea head coach will sign a contract that will be longer than the two-year deal Pochettino accepted last summer.

Chelsea co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart are working on drawing up a final shortlist of recommended candidates. The final decision on the new head coach will be made by the Chelsea ownership group, which includes co-owners Behdad Eghbali and Todd Boehly.

Analysis: Why Ipswich's McKenna is a manager in demand

McKenna is a wanted man this summer - for all the right reasons.

Why is he a manager in such high demand? Sky Sports takes a look at the reasons here...