Kieran McKenna celebrates

McKenna guides Ipswich to Premier League

Saturday 04 May 2024 15:31

Former Manchester United coach Kieran McKenna has guided Ipswich Town to an unlikely return to the Premier League.

The Tractor Boys beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 at a buoyant Portman Road on Saturday to seal second spot in the Championship on the final day of the regular season, and a place in next term’s top flight for the first time since 2002.

The Suffolk side have amassed 96 points from their 46 league games to join title-winners Leicester City in securing automatic promotion.

The third and final promotion place will be taken by one of Leeds United, Southampton, West Bromwich Albion or Norwich City, who will battle it out in the play-offs. We will know which club it will be on Sunday 26 May, when the final takes place at Wembley.

Kieran McKenna spent more than five years at United on the coaching staff.

Masterminding back-to-back promotions with Ipswich as a manager represents a remarkable achievement for McKenna, whose squad this season includes ex-Reds defender Axel Tuanzebe and United loanee Brandon Williams, while our former coach Martyn Pert and goalkeeper Lee Grant are among the Northern Irishman's backroom staff.

Kieran joined from Tottenham as our Under-18s coach in 2016 and guided the young Reds to the Premier League Northern Division title in his second season at the helm.

He was then promoted to our first-team coaching staff, working under Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick before leaving to take up the managerial reins at Ipswich in December 2021, when they were in League One.

Despite an upturn in form, the Tractor Boys couldn’t make up enough ground to reach the play-offs that season but they went one better the following campaign, as a 19-game unbeaten run helped secure second place and earned McKenna a new four-year contract.

With survival the main aim this season, Ipswich’s exploits have been truly astonishing. They have seen McKenna pick up the Championship Manager of the Season award, as well as two monthly accolades during the campaign.

When asked what reaching the Premier League as a manager means to him, Kieran told Sky Sports: “It means a lot, mostly seeing how much it means to everyone - the players, the supporters. To be one of the leaders in that is absolutely massive so it’s a wonderful day, a very, very proud one for everyone involved.

“We’ve done it through an incredible amount of effort and sacrifice, support from a lot of people and it’s a wonderful achievement. I’m sure it will sink in in a couple of days. It’s going to be a great challenge, of course a lot of work to do in the football club. For me on a personal level, it’s going to be a great challenge and one I’m looking forward to.”

McKenna's Ipswich have fought off stiff competition to clinch the runners-up spot in the Championship.

The Reds have faced Ipswich on 57 previous occasions, winning 29 and drawing nine, with the most recent being a 3-0 League Cup triumph in 2015.

The most famous meeting was our resounding 9-0 victory at Old Trafford in 1995, which is the joint-record win in Premier League history.

United 9 Ipswich 0 Video

United 9 Ipswich 0

In March 1995, Andy Cole scored five times as United sensationally beat Ipswich Town 9-0...

United fans will have an eager eye on the fixture list for the 2024/25 campaign to see when we will be reunited with McKenna and Ipswich.

We won’t have long to wait, with the schedule due to be released at 09:00 BST on Tuesday 18 June. Congratulations to Kieran and Ipswich Town on their well-deserved promotion, we look forward to seeing you next season!