Manchester United ponder move for Kieran McKenna if Ten Hag departs

Initial contact has been made with Ipswich manager, while Brighton and Brentford have also shown an interest

Kieran McKenna has emerged as a surprise candidate to replace Erik ten Hag if the Dutchman leaves Manchester United at the end of the season, with the Ipswich manager also attracting strong interest from other Premier League clubs after achieving successive promotions at Portman Road.

McKenna, who was on the Old Trafford coaching staff for six years before taking charge of Ipswich in December 2021, is understood to be highly regarded by the United ­hierarchy after helping the Suffolk club to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

He is believed to be under serious con­sideration to take over from Ten Hag should United decide to bring an end to his tenure after a disap­pointing second season in charge, with the co‑owner Jim Ratcliffe poised to review his position after the FA Cup final against Manchester City a week on Saturday.

Initial contact is believed to have already been made between United and McKenna’s representatives but sources have stressed that it is still “early days”. The 38-year-old, who rejected an approach from Crystal Palace to take over from Roy Hodgson this season to stay at Ipswich, was initially under-18s coach at United after joining from Tottenham in 2016 before becoming one of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s assistants.

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Ipswich are understood to be determined to keep hold of McKenna, who signed a new deal at the end of last season that ties him to the club until 2027. Any move is likely to involve paying considerable compensation, although Ipswich’s owners are planning to hold talks with the Northern Irishman in the next few weeks and believe they can convince him to lead them into the Premier League.

Brighton are also understood to have registered their interest in McKenna, although any potential appointment on the south coast would rely on Roberto De Zerbi moving on. The Italian has been linked with clubs in Serie A and is set to hold more talks with the owner Tony Bloom about his future at the end of the season.

Brentford have also previously shown an interest in the former midfielder who was forced to retire at the age of 22 due to a hip injury, with reports on Monday suggesting that Thomas Frank is another contender to take over at United if Ten Hag leaves. — Guardian

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