Chelsea eye up Kieran McKenna with Mauricio Pochettino’s future in balance

<span>Ipswich face a battle to keep Kieran McKenna, the mastermind behind their promotion to the Premier League. </span><span>Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA</span>
Ipswich face a battle to keep Kieran McKenna, the mastermind behind their promotion to the Premier League. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Chelsea have identified Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna as one of the leading  candidates to take over from Mauricio Pochettino, whose future is up in the air before his end-of-season review with the club’s hierarchy.

While some key figures at Stamford Bridge are in favour of Pochettino staying, the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership is yet to reach a consensus on whether a change is required.

Related: Mauricio Pochettino has built momentum out of chaos at Chelsea

Chelsea, who can clinch a top-six finish and European football when they host Bournemouth in their final game of the season on Sunday, are preparing for the possibility of looking for a new manager.

McKenna, who masterminded Ipswich’s astonishing promotion to the Premier League, is in their sights. The 38-year-old has emerged as one of the brightest young managers in the country and Ipswich face a battle to hold on to him.

Manchester United are also monitoring McKenna and Brighton have targeted him as a replacement for Roberto De Zerbi, whose departure from the Amex Stadium was confirmed on Saturday.

McKenna took Ipswich up from League One last season and there is a view that joining Brighton would make more sense than stepping into either of the pressurised environments at Chelsea or United. Graham Potter lasted less than seven months at Chelsea after joining from Brighton in September 2022.

But Chelsea are intrigued by McKenna’s work and understood to have spoken to his representatives, a development that will create further uncertainty over Pochettino’s position. Pochettino, who was appointed on a two-year deal last summer, has hinted he could walk away in response to suggestions that he could be sacked.

Chelsea, who have had five managers since their takeover by Boehly and Clearlake in 2022, are due to meet the 52-year-old early next week. The meeting will be overseen by the co-sporting directors, Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, while there will be input from Boehly and Clearlake, the private equity fund managed by Behdad Eghbali and José Feliciano. Any decision to sack Pochettino would need to be signed off by Boehly and Clearlake.

Chelsea could pip Tottenham to fifth place but Pochettino has been unable to meet the club’s initial target of qualifying for the Champions League. Chelsea’s succession planning means they are considering several managers. Their interest in De Zerbi has cooled and they are unsure whether Sporting Lisbon’s Rúben Amorim suits the tactical profile of their squad.