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Manchester United suffer McKenna blow as Ipswich boss makes contract decision

Man United suffer McKenna blow as Ipswich boss makes contract decision
© Reuters
Ipswich Town announce that in-demand head coach Kieran McKenna - allegedly a managerial target for Manchester United - has signed a new four-year contract.

Manchester United have been dealt a potentially fatal blow in their efforts to lure Kieran McKenna away from Ipswich Town, whom the 38-year-old has signed a new long-term deal with.

A former scout and youth manager at Old Trafford, McKenna has been on the radar of a handful of Premier League teams after achieving remarkable back-to-back promotions with Ipswich.

A League One side as recently as the 2022-23 season, McKenna masterminded the Tractor Boys' rise to the Championship for the 2023-24 term, where they finished second behind Leicester City to return to the top flight after a 22-year absence.

The Northern Irishman's work is said to have attracted the attention of all of Brighton & Hove Albion, Man United and Chelsea, although the latter are now closing in on the appointment of Enzo Maresca.

No decision has been made on the future of Erik ten Hag at the Theatre of Dreams, but McKenna was regarded as a top candidate for the job amid reports that he would snub any offer of a new deal at Portman Road.

McKenna signs new four-year Ipswich contract

However, McKenna has seemingly had a change of heart, as on Thursday afternoon, Ipswich confirmed that the 38-year-old had penned a contract renewal with the Premier League giants until the summer of 2028.

Speaking to the official Ipswich website after putting pen to paper, McKenna - whose coaching team also signed new deals - 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.

"Preparation and planning for the challenge ahead has been ongoing since we won promotion at the beginning of May, with plenty of work still to do before the start of the new season at what is such an exciting time for everyone at the Club.

"I am so happy to have committed my future to taking the next step with Ipswich Town and am really excited for what's ahead as we continue this journey together."

What alternative managers can Man United target?

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag applauds the fans after the match on May 15, 2024© Reuters

While Chelsea had moved on from McKenna, Man United must ostensibly now throw in the towel as well, unless the 38-year-old's new deal is a ploy for Ipswich to earn a significant compensation fee for his exit this summer.

In reality, the Red Devils - who are still expected to sack Ten Hag despite his FA Cup success - must continue their search elsewhere, and England head coach Gareth Southgate is still thought to be high on Sir Jim Ratcliffe's shortlist.

In terms of available coaches, ex-Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has supposedly been sounded out by Man United, while Thomas Tuchel is yet to decide on a new career path but is known to be open to a Premier League return.

Xavi is also waiting for his next taker after being sacked by Barcelona, but at this stage, there is no indication that the Spaniard is on Ratcliffe's list of possible replacements, while there is no chance of Zinedine Zidane taking on the position either.

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