Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna explains why he quit Manchester United for Portman Road

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New Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna said he made the switch from Manchester United because the Portman Road job was the "the right offer at the right time".

He has swapped a coaching role at one of the biggest clubs in the world for a chance to lead a promotion charge at the League One club.

McKenna, 35, was in the stands on Saturday and got a glimpse of the potential of the Suffolk side.

More than 29,000 crammed into Portman Road to watch the Tractor Boys take on Sunderland. Speaking of his first impressions he described Saturday's support as "fantastic".

He added: "It was great to see. I thought the performance in the first half especially was really positive, I really like the commitment, the aggression and the mentality of the team.

"They are still fighting for things this year and aren't prepared to give up on the season just yet. I really like that. I really liked the way the fans and players interacted, the players relished the crowd, the new noise and the fans got behind the team... We have to harness that."

But the first question the highly-rated coach was asked was why swap Old Trafford for a chance to lead Ipswich?

"I have a big affinity for Manchester United, obviously I think that’s well-publicised. I was a fan of the club as a boy and it’s a fantastic club to work at. I have had really good relationships with staff, with players, with owners, with all the managers that I've worked under.

"I was happy there and I saw a future there, but the ambition all along was make the step to eventually get the chance to lead a team in my own right, to lead a football club."

McKenna on the pitch at old Trafford Credit: PA Images

"So when the initial contact from Ipswich came I knew the background of the club, obviously one with fantastic traditions and history, but I also knew the current situation with the ownership and investment that has been put into it.

"I had some good conversations with Mark [Ashton, chief executive] about the direction I wanted to take it forward and we had a really similar view on how that would best be done so it was a really good match.

“When contact came from Ipswich I knew all about the background and the ownership here... I hope it’s a really good match. It’s the right profile of club for me and I’m confident we can have success.”

He said he hadn't been looking for other jobs but jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose.

"I haven’t applied for anything over the years. I think when you’re working at the club the size and the scale of Manchester United I was so focused on the day-to-day there I put my heart and soul into the club, trying to make it better every single day.

"I don’t think it would’ve been right, with the responsibility that I had there, to be looking for other jobs. I always knew that if I did my work and develop myself as a coach ... I knew that my reputation within football would eventually lead to the right club coming to approach me and thankfully that was the case with Ipswich. It was the right offer at the right time."

And he moved to reassure fans who might be concerned that he is unfamiliar with the challenges that lay ahead.

He said he was already familiar with many of the playing squad due his time on the academy circuit, and he had spent the last few days catching up on the the side's recent games. He added he already had a clear idea of the team's strengths and weaknesses and the steps he'd take to make improvements.

"Obviously as soon as you come down here you realise what it means to people and what a fantastic club it is, what passion there is in the fan base.

"It’s been a difficult season so far for the team but we feel the season is still alive, we want to improve and pick up results and we want to focus on improving the performances of the team as quickly as we can, and hopefully, results come from that. I think with the quality in the squad we can put a run of results together and let’s see where we’re at in a couple of months."

Jim Magilton as manager of Ipswich Town Credit: PA Images

The new boss also said he would be contacting a former Blues favourite for advice on taking the club forward.

McKenna worked briefly with former Town boss Jim Magilton in the Northern Ireland set-up.

He said Magilton, who spent eight years at Portman Road as a player before a three-year spell as boss, was "very much on my call list".

"I was fortunate to work with him for a very short period of time in the Northern Ireland under-21s but I’ve known him through different avenues over the years as well. He's a really good man, he’s good to work for and I enjoy his company.

"I know his history with this club and the success that he had and I'll definitely be making contact with him and looking to tap into his experiences here and get his opinion, his expertise on how he sees the club going forward. "

McKenna also moved to dispel any fears he was only at Ipswich for the short-term.

"I’ve worked well enough to get myself to a really high level as a coach. I’ve worked at the highest level in the Premier League, Champions League. I coached Champions League games at 32 years old and worked and enjoyed it," he said.

"That’s definitely an aspiration to be back at that level as a manager and of course the ultimate goal, the ultimate dream is to do that with Ipswich Town."But McKenna is also a realist and acknowledged it would take more than talk to generate success.

"Of course there's expectation here and rightly so. We feel we are a big club..but there’s no guarantees in this league. There are other big clubs in the division who feel, and their supporters feel, like they belong in a higher division but it doesn’t guarantee anything.