Who is Kieran McKenna? Meet the Northern Irishman being tipped to take over at Chelsea

A picture of Kieran McKenna celebrating
-Credit: (Image: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

Kieran McKenna has had an incredible rise in the world of football. After being forced to quit the game in his early 20s the Fermanagh man has become one of the game's hottest properties.

McKenna has transferred his success in youth football to the senior game with consummate ease. He has led Ipswich Town to the promised land of the Premier League on a shoestring budget with two successive promotions from League One.

But the 38-year-old may not be leading the Tractor Boys into the top flight as a host of top clubs are monitoring his situation. Chelsea are frontrunners following Mauricio Pochettino's departure with Manchester United also said to be keen on bringing him back to the club.

Read next: NIFL chief Gerard Lawlor outlines funding needed for football as he welcomes 'first step'

Read more: Communities Minister confirms £36.2m funding programme for NI football

Who is Kieran McKenna and why is he such hot property? Here we take a look at the talented young coach.


Kieran was born in London on May 14, 1986, but was raised in Fermanagh.


He started his playing career in the youth sides at Enniskillen Town United and Ballinamallard United before joining Spurs on a scholarship deal in 2002.

McKenna played for Northern Ireland at Under-19 and Under-21 level and captained the U19s side at the 2005 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.

Unfortunately he was forced to retire from the game in 2009 due to an ongoing hip injury.


McKenna decided to pursue a career in coaching and completed a sports science degree at Loughborough University.

Upon graduating he was hired as the Head of Academy Performance Analysis at Tottenham Hotspur before being appointed boss of their Under-18 side leading them to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup in 2015.

In 2016 McKenna swapped Spurs for Manchester United leading the U18s to the Premier League Northern Division title in his second season in charge.

Ahead of the 2018–19 Premier League season McKenna was promoted first team assistant manager under Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho left United on 18 December 2018 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over. McKenna remained in the backroom team under Solskjaer, before he too left the club in November 2021, with his replacement Ralf Rangnick retaining the Northern Irishman.


A month after Solskjaer left Old Trafford, McKenna accepted the job at Ipswich Town.

His arrival saw an upturn in fortunes for the Tractor Boys as they lost just four of his 23 games in charge.

They missed out on promotion but carried their form into the following season losing just four games in the entire campaign to finish second and earn promotion to the Championship.

The momentum carried on into last season as Ipswich once again secured a second-placed finish becoming the first club since Southampton in 2012 to earn back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League with only £5.6m spent.

Given his incredible achievements it was unsurprising big clubs were sitting up to take notice of McKenna with his former club Manchester United said to be keen to bringing him back to Old Trafford.

But following Mauricio Pochettino's departure from Chelsea it seems the 38-year-old is heading to Stamford Bridge.

Sign up to our free sports newsletter to get the latest headlines to your inbox