Manchester United first-team coach Kieran McKenna feels he has been able to make the transition from youth football because the fundamentals of his role remain the same and he has been assisted by the rest of the senior staff.
The Northern Irishman came to the club from Sunday’s opponents Tottenham with a fine reputation at Academy level and only enhanced this with his successful spell as United’s Under-18s coach.
A promotion followed last summer to work alongside Michael Carrick at senior level and he has relished the increased focus and responsibility.
In his first interview since taking the role, the boyhood Reds fan outlined why he believes good times are around the corner for the club.
“I’ve found it a really good transition, to be honest,” he told MUTV in Dubai.
“I think that, whether the players are 17 or 18 or senior internationals or top, top players, I think they want the same things. They want to be treated with respect and they want you to help them with their game and improve them as individuals, when the time is right. If you give them those things, you get a really good response from them. I have to say the players have been first class, with their attitude and willingness to learn. They are a really good bunch to work with and that has helped, of course.
”The staff around the team have also been a great help and I’m looking forward to kicking on now and a positive few years for the club. The dynamic of the staff has been great as Michael and I came straight in and it’s been a positive experience with us coming from different angles with different skills to bring different things to the table. Over the last couple of weeks, Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] and Mike [Phelan] are coming in with different experiences and different skillsets so the chemistry and dynamic is really good at the moment. They’re enjoyable staff to work with.”
McKenna feels the blend of coaching experience is helping the Reds string together a run of good results with a visit to his former club Spurs on the horizon.”I guess the ideal scenario within a staff is you all come with different skills,” he explained.
“Michael has been a top, top player in the club, he knows it and the dressing room really well. I’m coming in from the angle of having a lot of years’ experience, even at a young age, working full time on the grass with the players, putting on sessions and trying to make players better. We bounce ideas off each other and feed off each other very well so the mix has been very good.
“[The time away from home] has been a new challenge but probably more for my wife than me. She’s fantastically supportive and there is a bit more travel involved and trips away. I’ve got great family support behind me and you don’t see the family as much over Christmas but, as staff, we’re so grateful as we all know it’s a privilege to work for this great club and never take it for granted. We just enjoy the journey along the way.
”Spurs are obviously a good side in good form, with stability after three or four years of the same manager and same players. They are in good condition but, although we’ve not been working together too long, this group of staff has had a fantastic start and everyone is really positive. We had a good Christmas period and it’s been really encouraging. We’ll benefit from having this week [in Dubai] behind us and, with the confidence the players have going into the game, we’ve got every chance of giving a good account of ourselves.”If you're not reading this in our official app, download it here for exclusive Dubai videos and other features not found on ManUtd.com.