Chelsea managerial target Kieran McKenna’s representatives meet with Manchester United over replacing Erik ten Hag

Manchester United’s hierarchy have met with the representatives of Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna as they weigh up axing Erik ten Hag.

The 38-year-old has become one of the most sought-after coaches in the country after guiding Ipswich to back-to-back promotions, taking them from League One to the Premier League.

Just as impressive as the team’s meteoric rise to the top-flight has been the style of play McKenna has installed, with Championship top scorers Ipswich playing some of the best football in the country.

A host of Premier League clubs are keen to try and sign him this summer, with both Chelsea – who need a replacement for Mauricio Pochettino – and Brighton – who parted company with Roberto De Zerbi – already having held talks.

United were also rumoured to be interested should they part company with Ten Hag after the FA Cup final and now Sky Sports are reporting that McKenna’s representatives have actually already spoken to the Red Devils.

The meeting happened last week and it is claimed that both new chief executive Omar Berrada and technical director Jason Wilcox were present.

Two of United’s most senior figures speaking to McKenna’s agent would appear to suggest the writing is on the wall for Ten Hag, with the United duo discussing the prospect of the Northern Irishman taking over the reins.

McKenna actually coached the first team at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and, briefly, Ralf Rangnick, having originally joined as Under-18s manager in 2016, before making the leap to join Ipswich Town in December 2021.

The former Tottenham academy player, whose career was ended prematurely through injury, has supported United since childhood and a return to the Red Devils may well appeal to him over a move to Chelsea or Brighton.

Despite some tumultuous seasons on the United coaching staff, McKenna looks back favourably on his time at the club and feels it made him the manager he is today.

Speaking to The Telegraph last year, he said: ‘Being at Man United there was massive pressure. Every loss is a disaster and the expectation is really high, the scrutiny is really high.

‘It does develop your resilience, your ability to block out noise, your ability to focus on the things that are important and to control what you can control and not worry about the things outside of that. As a manager at any club that is important. It has helped me a lot.’

On working with established stars who were actually older than he was, McKenna added: ‘I found it pretty comfortable, to be honest.

‘Coming in under a legendary manager like Jose was a great experience and a healthy pressure because you want to do well. You want to earn the respect of the manager and the players and make sure the sessions you are taking are on point. I felt like I was able to do that with every manager I worked under there. Probably one of the biggest things is realising players are not that different whatever level you go to.’

At his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Ten Hag was asked if the FA Cup final might be his final game and replied: ‘I have nothing to say. Just focusing on the job I have to do and that is first win the game on Saturday and then the project, keep going with the project.’

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