Chelsea contact Ipswich about Kieran McKenna as club step up manager hunt

Chelsea are confident of bringing their search for Mauricio Pochettino’s successor to a swift conclusion after notifying Ipswich of their interest in their favoured candidate, Kieran McKenna, and putting alternative plans in place by making checks on Leicester’s Enzo Maresca.

The Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership are working quickly after parting company with Pochettino by mutual consent – a development that has caused shock within the dressing room – and they are optimistic that the process will not take long.

Chelsea, who decided that a change was required after con­cluding that Pochettino did not enjoy ­working in their set-up, made contact with ­McKenna’s representatives ­several weeks ago.

The Stamford Bridge club believe that the 38-year-old, who is in demand after overseeing Ipswich’s astonishing promotion to the Premier League, will favour them over Brighton and Manchester United if he decides to pursue a new challenge.

Ipswich have heard from Chelsea and are desperate to keep McKenna, who will be offered a new deal by the Portman Road club. A slight concern for Chelsea is that McKenna was previously on the backroom staff at United, who could sack Erik ten Hag this summer, and he could be drawn back to Old Trafford.

Brighton want McKenna to replace Roberto De Zerbi. But the feeling at Chelsea is that their pursuit of one of the top young coaches in the country is moving in the right direction.

It is an open race, with nothing decided yet, and Chelsea’s need to keep their options open has led to them reaching out to Maresca’s camp. The Leicester manager has admirers within Chelsea’s recruitment team, who are impressed with his tactical acumen, and he is seen as a promising alternative to McKenna.

It is unclear if Maresca would be interested in joining Chelsea after leading Leicester to the Championship title. Leicester could be hit with a points deduction before the start of next season and it remains to be seen if they will have a big budget this summer. Maresca, 44, plays ­attacking, possession-based football, which appeals to Chelsea.

They are keen to appoint a young, progressive head coach who is ­willing to buy into a recruitment structure headed by the co-sporting ­directors, Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley.

Chelsea are monitoring ­Brentford’s Thomas Frank, Stuttgart’s ­Sebastian Hoeness and Girona’s Michel. ­Hoeness has signed a new deal at Stuttgart, who finished second in the Bundesliga, and is unlikely to move this summer. Chelsea like Vincent Kompany but the Burnley manager looks to be joining Bayern Munich.

Pochettino, who has left ­Chelsea with his reputation intact after ­guiding them to sixth place in his only season in charge, could also be targeted by Bayern. The Argentinian will be an option for United if they sack Ten Hag and he is expected to receive offers from the Saudi Pro League.

skip past newsletter promotion

Al-Ittihad are poised to replace Marcelo Gallardo. Their sporting director, Ramón Planes, is a close ally of Pochettino, who could also be an option for England if Gareth ­Southgate departs after Euro 2024.

The mood around Chelsea was uncertain after Pochettino, whose pay-off is yet to be disclosed, left after less than a year in the job. The Stamford Bridge club are looking for their sixth manager since being bought by Boehly and Clearlake Capital, a private equity fund managed by Behdad Eghbali and José E Feliciano. There was weariness at the training ground as staff readied themselves for more upheaval. Players were shocked and saddened to lose Pochettino.

But Chelsea are standing by their decision and have rejected suggestions that they are looking to appoint a manager who can be controlled by the hierarchy. It is understood that the aim is to employ a manager who is willing to take on board suggestions from experts in the medical, recruitment and technical departments. It was felt that Pochettino, who was cold on Chelsea bringing in a set-piece coach, was reluctant to adapt his ways.

Chelsea also looked beyond a late improvement in the team’s form when they conducted an end-of-season review. They had hoped to qualify for the Champions League and were disappointed at dropped points against Burnley and Sheffield United. There was also concern about the side’s defending and the chaotic nature of their games – including the nervy 2-1 win against Bournemouth last Sunday.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.