McKenna: We're determined to get over the line

Manchester United can reach the Europa League semi-finals for the second straight season tonight (Thursday) and assistant coach Kieran McKenna admits “the group is really desperate to win our first trophy”.

The Reds are preparing to host Granada at Old Trafford and hold an advantageous 2-0 lead from the first leg, secured last Thursday thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes

Everybody knows the job isn’t done yet and minds are focused completely on tonight’s return fixture, yet there is a collective determination to go all the way in this season’s competition.

Last season’s semi-final defeat to Sevilla is still fresh in the mind and, a year on, with that experience in the bag, there is a confidence in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad that will hopefully lead to a trophy. 

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McKenna speaks articulately about our ambitions in an exclusive interview that appears in United Review, the official matchday programme that is available to read online now

“All along it’s very much just been the focus to pick up as many points as we can, take every game as it comes and make sure we’re as close to our best as we can be for every game,”
says the coach.

“So, in the league, we want to pick up as many points as we can, win as many games as we can and then see where we’re at. We’re in a strong position but we want to win more points and get as close to the top as we possibly can and finish really strongly.

“Then we’ve got the European competition, and it’s been said a lot by the players and the staff that this group is really desperate to win our first trophy.

“We’ve been really close in cups over the last few years and [deserve] some credit for the consistency we’ve shown to keep getting to the latter stages, but the players are really determined to get over the line. 

“We know we’ve got a two-legged quarter-final and a two-legged semi-final to get to a final, to give us that chance to finish the season with a trophy. It’s pretty clear, the end is in sight in the league and in Europe and hopefully the players can really focus down on that and give a big last push.”

United reached this stage of the Europa League by defeating Serie A giants AC Milan over two legs and our trip to the iconic San Siro was an enjoyable experience for all involved. 

Although McKenna is not one to reflect on the past, particularly in the relative infancy of his highly-rated coaching career, the Northern Irishman admits the famous stadium was a sight to behold. 

“Yeah, it was a nice game to be involved in with the history of United and AC Milan,”
he explains.
“That’s something we emphasised to the players before the tie, about what a historic tie it was. It’s nice but when you’re working in it you don’t look at those things at the time. 

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“Whether it was in the San Siro or in a division-three stadium up the road, once the game starts you’re very much focused on that and not the things around it – not the shirt or the reputation of the team you’re playing.

“I’m sure, in time, hopefully a long way down the line in my career, I’ll look back at those victories or other big wins with pride. But at the time, and at the moment, I’m just very much focused on the process and doing the best things day to day.”

Read the full interview with Kieran McKenna in the digital edition of United Review.

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