Kieran McKenna ends Manchester United job speculation by signing new Ipswich deal

Staying put: Kieran McKenna will not be leaving Ipswich this summer after all (Getty Images)
Staying put: Kieran McKenna will not be leaving Ipswich this summer after all (Getty Images)

Kieran McKenna has ended fervent speculation over his future by signing a new four-year contract at Ipswich.

The Northern Irishman has been at the centre of the Premier League’s busy managerial merry-go-round over recent weeks, having become arguably English football’s hottest coaching property after achieving back-to-back promotions at Portman Road.

McKenna said: “I am extremely proud to have signed a new contract with the Club.

“We have enjoyed incredible success together over the last two seasons and I’m excited to have the opportunity and responsibility of leading this fantastic Club into its first season in the Premier League in 22 years.”

Having guided Ipswich from League One to a first Premier League return for 22 years in his first two full seasons as a manager, McKenna was shortlisted by Chelsea in the race to succeed Mauricio Pochettino, who left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent last week after only one season in charge.

He joined Enzo Maresca, Roberto De Zerbi and Thomas Frank in the final running, but later fell out of the race as the Blues instead look to finalise the appointment of Leicester’s Championship-title winning boss Maresca.

Along with the likes of Thomas Tuchel, Pochettino, Frank and De Zerbi, McKenna’s representatives were also reportedly sounded out by Manchester United as they weigh up whether or not to seek a replacement for current boss Erik ten Hag following a season in which they slumped to their worst league finish for 34 years but also won the FA Cup to secure European football for next season.

McKenna, a former Tottenham academy coach, was initially said to be keen on a potential return to Old Trafford, having previously worked as United’s under-18s manager before becoming an assistant coach under a succession of managers in Jose Mourinho, Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 38-year-old was also widely considered as the front-runner to succeed De Zerbi at Brighton amid claims that he would reject Ipswich’s offer of a bumper new deal, but has now committed his future to the newly-promoted club as they embark upon a crucial summer and their first Premier League campaign since 2001-02.

Ipswich CEO Mark Ashton said: “We are delighted Kieran has further committed his future to the Club.

“Success brings its own challenges and there has been considerable speculation in recent weeks, but Kieran and I have continued to communicate throughout, often several times a day, as we plan for the Club’s first Premier League season in a generation.

“For Kieran to have signed a new contract is a significant boost, heading into such an important campaign, as we continue the hard work in preparation for the coming season.”