Kieran McKenna makes Man Utd allegiance clear as Chelsea and Brighton plot moves

Kieran McKenna has been linked with the Man Utd, Chelsea and Ipswich jobs (Image: Getty)

A young Kieran McKenna pledged his allegiance to Manchester United by revealing that Roy Keane was the player he most admired. McKenna, who has been linked with the jobs at United, Chelsea and Brighton, was a teenage midfielder in Tottenham’s academy when he took part in a Q&A with the club’s website.

McKenna is widely understood to have grown up as a United fan. Having been forced to quit football due to injury aged 22, he was a coach in Spurs’ academy before taking a similar role at United.

Now 38, McKenna left United to manage Ipswich in December 2021. Back-to-back promotions has seen the Northern Irishman guide the Tractor Boys into the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

But links with the United, Chelsea and Brighton manager jobs are threatening to derail Ipswich’s top-flight plans. Should McKenna be forced to make a decision between the clubs, he has already made his feelings clear on his love for the Red Devils.

Kieran McKenna has previously pledged his allegiance to Man Utd (Image: Getty)

In a 2003 interview when McKenna was just 17, he was asked who his favourite player was growing up and there was only one obvious answer – former United captain Keane.

“I have to say Roy Keane,” McKenna said. Quizzed again on who he most admired outside Spurs, he reiterated: “Roy Keane again.”

McKenna is highly thought of in football and is considered one of the country’s best young coaches. He achieved a rare feat by winning the League Managers’ Association (LMA) Manager of the Year award as a coach employed outside of the Premier League.

Asked about speculation surrounding his future at the LMA awards ceremony, McKenna said: “When you do well as a manager or as a player, there is always going to be speculation. What we have achieved is not an ordinary thing. There’s going to be speculation but that’s not where my focus is.

“My focus is on what we achieved last season and what we have achieved over the last couple of seasons. Not just myself, but everyone at the football club. It’s been a wonderful couple of years.

“Tonight is about celebrating that and I know everyone is looking forward to next season. I know that the club is going to be in a really, really good place going into that season.”

The United position remains filled by Erik ten Hag, but the Dutchman is widely reported to be facing the sack after Saturday’s FA Cup final clash with rivals Manchester City. McKenna, Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel are reportedly early contenders to replace Ten Hag should he depart Old Trafford.