Next Chelsea manager: Kieran McKenna contract issue amid Ipswich boss' 'speculation' admission

Kieran McKenna
-Credit: (Image: George Wood/Getty Images)

Chelsea are stepping up their search for a new manager with Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna emerging as one of the prime candidates for the Stamford Bridge vacancy.

The Blues announced this week that Mauricio Pochettino had left the club by mutual consent, that is despite the team securing a sixth place finish on the final day of the season. Chelsea are now in search of another new manager to take over.

They are said to want a young up and coming coach, with McKenna fitting that mould. The 38-year-old has caught the eye with his work at Ipswich Town, leading the club to back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League since taking over in December 2021.

It’s perhaps no surprise then that he is the subject of interest. Here is the latest on a possible move to Chelsea for the Ipswich boss.

Ipswich contact made understands that Chelsea have been in contact with Ipswich Town over the manager after he emerged as one of the leading candidates. The Blues have contacted the Tractor Boys to express their interest in the manager, who has led them to back-to-back promotions.

Chelsea do however face competition from fellow Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion, who are also looking at McKenna as a possible replacement for Roberto De Zerbi after his shock departure at the end of the season.

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McKenna’s stance

The good news for Chelsea is that it is reported that McKenna is ‘likely’ to reject any new deal offered to him by Ipswich as the club attempt to keep him. The BBC report that Ipswich are keen to offer the manager a new deal to try and fight off interest from Chelsea and Brighton, but that is ‘expected to fail’.

The report adds that McKenna and assistant manager Martyn Pert feel that it is the right time to move on. Chelsea are also reported to be in pole position with clubs needing to pay around £4 million in compensation to Ipswich.

What McKenna has said

When asked about his future amid the links to Chelsea, McKenna remained tight-lipped. Speaking after being named the League Managers Association (LMA) manager of the year he told Sky Sports : “Look, the club has had such a positive season and has such a positive future ahead.

“We’ve achieved so much, it’s been an incredible two years. When you have success like that there always comes speculation and things like that, we’ve seen that every summer. But I know how much everyone is looking forward to the season, the club is in a fantastic path and everyone is just really looking forward to the season ahead.”

He added: “Again, when you do well – as a manager or as a player – there’s always going to be speculation.

“I know what we’ve achieved isn’t a normal thing so there’s always going to be speculation. But that’s not where my focus is. Tonight is about what we’ve achieved over the last couple of seasons.

“It’s been a wonderful couple of years so tonight is about celebrating that. I know everyone is looking forward to next season and I know the club is going to be in a really good place going into that season."

Jose Mourinho influence

While cutting his teeth in the world of coaching and management, McKenna worked under some of the biggest managers in the world, including Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho. His time with the latter came at Manchester United .

He was taken to the club by Mourinho, first as manager of the club’s U18 team, but was promoted to assistant manager two years later. He worked alongside Mourinho for 24 games, but despite the manager’s exit, McKenna remained working under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick before leaving to take the job at Ipswich.