methode times prod web bin 0d1ebaba 822b 457b 9543 7f061f7864f4 jpg
| | | |

Kieran McKenna: The Next Big Thing?

There was a belief amongst rival fans that there was no tactical knowledge behind the scenes at Manchester United during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign at the club. Many slated the Norwegian and believed that he and his backroom staff didn’t have the ability or experience or manage a club like Manchester United from a tactical perspective behind the scenes. Kieran McKenna’s ascent with Ipswich Town has quite quickly blown their beliefs out of the water.

McKenna’s achievements during his two-year stint with Ipswich Town have been nothing short of remarkable. The Northern Irish manager took over Ipswich when they were in 12th place in League One, and currently has them sitting in 2nd in the Championship 2 years to the day he took over. There are serious questions as to whether McKenna could be the man to take over from Erik ten Hag at Manchester United if he is to be sacked, and he has also been part of the names mentioned to become the next Ireland manager after the sacking of Stephen Kenny last month.

image 28

Kieran McKenna: A True Tactician

McKenna’s Ipswich line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and they press in this formation too. Two holders sit behind a ten and two wingers, and it slightly mirrors Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the days of the famous McFred midfield of Scott McTominay and Fred in a double pivot.

McKenna deploys a 2-4 formation in the build-up with his Ipswich side, always looking to play out from the back. The full-backs rotate between the wide and central areas in the build-up, with the two midfielders dropping in to aid progression. They form almost a wall in the middle of the park and make it very difficult for the opposition to stop them building when they get it right.

One winger stays high and very wide during the build, which gives the breaking midfielders options when they break through the opposition press. This is usually on the right-hand side with Wes Burns. The 10 will join the attack as he is usually further forward than the two deep-dropping midfielders, and he always becomes an option for a cut-back in possession if the winger needs to use him or wins his 1 v 1 battle.

image 29

At times one of the winger’s will come central and play in the half space. This is usually Nathan Broadhead. This then allows the full-back to push even further forward and become almost a winger in possession. This gives Ipswich the ability to either go central or wide, with the half-space being one of the most dangerous areas on a football pitch if utilized correctly. Leif Davis is the full-back that joins the attack the most on the left-hand side, and his width at times causes opposition teams real trouble due to the fact he is effectively cheating in possession.

They are a possession-based side, but they are lethal in transition due to the positions the players take up. Directness is one of their greatest assets, and they break like a Manchester United side of old. It’s no surprise Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United were so lethal on the counter-attack at times with McKenna part of the backroom staff.

Chance Creation: Something Manchester United Lack

image 30

Rasmus Hojlund has received the least amount of passes into his feet in the entire Premier League this season when compared to the other 20 teams strikers in the league. Anthony Martial has received the second least in the entire division. Hojlund has yet to score for United in the Premier League this season. Anthony Martial has only managed to score one goal for the club in the league as well. It is a huge problem for United that is yet to be addressed despite the glaring obvious effects it’s having on the team.

By comparison, there are goals and chances galore across the Ipswich front line. Striker George Hirst has scored 6 goals and has had 7.9xg created for him this season already. The Ipswich forward has also been able to get off 45 shots. Hojlund has only had 2.9xg created for him, managing just 16 shots on the goal in the league so far this season. It’s a stark difference, and while the quality of the leagues may be different, the tactics of creating chances for your main striker shouldn’t differ much.

McKenna was part of the backroom staff for the Manchester United side that scored the most goals in a single season since Alex Ferguson retired. Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, and Anthony Martial all hit double figures that season, showcasing that McKenna’s tactics do translate to the top leagues and specifically, Manchester United.

A Proper Pressing Structure:

Manchester United also usually press in a 4-2-3-1 structure, but it does not seem to be as well structured as the one deployed by Ipswich under Kieran McKenna. There is always gaps in the United setup, and teams have been utilising them gaps to hurt Erik ten Hag’s side this season. Especially down the flanks, where teams are leaving players high up behind the press to punish United in transition. This was evident against Manchester City, where Bernardo Silva took advantage to torture United on the day.

In contrast, Ipswich’s 4-2-3-1 is solid and compact. This may be due to the fact they deploy two deep midfielders in the pivot, as opposed to what United do with Bruno Fernandes being part of the pivot at Manchester United in the press. Ipswich also press as a unit, which is something United have struggled to do this season and is one of the main reasons they are so easy to play through at times. It’s one of the main areas of concern for the current United team, but one of the key areas under Kieran McKenna for Ipswich.

Could McKenna Be The Next Manchester United Manager?

image 31

There is little to suggest that Kieran McKenna doesn’t have the tools to become the next Manchester United manager. Jose Mourinho highly rated McKenna during their time together at the club, where the Northern Irish coach was the Portuguese managers right-hand man.

McKenna has felt the pressures of being apart of a Manchester United coaching setup, and understands what goes in to being at a club as big as the Reds. I believe Erik ten Hag is the man to get Manchester United back to where they need to be, and deserves all the time it takes to get to that stage, but if im wrong and he isn’t, I would not be looking much further than Kieran McKenna to take over.

Read More Attacking Football:

About The Author

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply