Ipswich Town confirm appointment of Kieran McKenna as new manager

Kieran McKenna (
Kieran McKenna (right) was on the coaching staff alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjær at Manchester United. Credit: PA

Ipswich Town have confirmed the appointment of Kieran McKenna as their new manager.

The Northern Irishman, 35, has agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal and joins from Premier League giants Manchester United where he was a first-team coach.

McKenna was part of Ole Gunnar Solskjær's coaching team at Old Trafford and stayed on after the Norwegian was sacked in November.

It's believed that new interim boss Ralf Rangnick was enjoying working with him, but he leaves with Rangnick's blessing.

McKenna replaces Paul Cook who was sacked by Town earlier this month.

He will be assisted by Martyn Pert who has also made the switch from United.

Paul Cook was sacked earlier this month. Credit: PA

"Leaving a club like Manchester United was obviously a difficult decision, but I strongly believe in the opportunity to build something here," McKenna said.

"It feels like the right time, project and club to make my first step into first-team management.

"For now, the focus for the team has to be on a huge game on Saturday. After that, I cannot wait to meet everyone and get to work."

McKenna will be in the stands to watch Saturday's clash with Sunderland at Portman Road, before officially being unveiled on Monday.

It will be his first job in management and he inherits an Ipswich team that have so far failed to live up to expectations this season.

Kieran McKenna has left his role at Manchester United. Credit: PA

Town are currently in mid-table in League One, despite significant investment in the playing squad by new American owners Gamechange 20 Ltd in the summer, and were dumped out of the FA Cup by League Two strugglers Barrow on Wednesday.

"Kieran is a highly-respected young coach who has been working at the top level of English football and with one of the biggest clubs in world football for a number of years in Manchester United," Chief Executive Mark Ashton said.

"He comes to the club with pedigree within the game and with exciting plans about how he is going to take the team forward. When we met, there was a clear meeting of minds in terms of how we will execute the vision of this football club."

  • Analysis - ITV News Anglia sports reporter Andy Ward

Sone Aluko was one of the new signings at Ipswich Town in the summer. Credit: PA

It's fair to say it's been a desperately disappointing season for Ipswich Town so far, but could this be the turning point?

There was much excitement in the summer after 19 new players arrived, but for whatever reason, Paul Cook couldn't get a tune out of his new-look squad.

Now, Ipswich have turned to a man who may never have managed before, but has plenty of experience of working at one of the biggest clubs in world football.

You don't get to work at a club like Manchester United unless you have something about you, and Town fans will desperately be hoping McKenna is the man to finally get the club moving in the right direction.

There's no doubt this is a huge leap of faith by the club's new American owners, but they've shown once again that they're prepared to do things differently - including finally breaking the chain of managers called Paul!

As for McKenna, this is a huge opportunity at one of the biggest clubs in the EFL, nevermind League One, and it's definitely not impossible that he could still salvage this season.

You can be sure he will be backed in the transfer market in January, just as Paul Cook was in the summer, and if he can combine some clever buys with the talent already at his disposal, it could be fun to watch.

McKenna is well-respected in the game and has made a name for himself as a talented, young coach. Now it's up to him to prove he can take both himself, and his new club, to a new level.