The revolving door at Manchester United turned once more on Thursday when Kieran McKenna became the latest member of staff to leave the club.
The Northern Irishman has followed Michael Carrick out of the door in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking, joining Ipswich Town as manager.
Mike Phelan is the only remaining member of Solskjaer’s coaching staff to remain at the club, with Ralf Rangnick having stamped his authority on the club.
Since becoming interim boss, Rangnick has brought in Chris Armas as his assistant, as well as Sascha Lense as sports psychologist.
McKenna had been at United for five years, working as Under-18s coach and on first-team staff of Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer.
The 35-year-old explained on Thursday why he had left the club to take over League One side Ipswich on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
“Leaving a club like Manchester United was obviously a difficult decision, but I strongly believe in the opportunity to build something here,” he said.
“It feels like the right time, project and club to make my first step into first-team management.”
McKenna’s reason for leaving – and for taking United coach Martyn Pert with him as his assistant – is understandable, but how big a miss will he be?
Although he was promoted to the first-team coaching staff by Mourinho in 2018, it was under Solskjaer when McKenna’s influence really grew.
Alongside Carrick, he was the Norwegian’s right-hand man and, according to The Athletic, he took a lead on patterns of play.
Having begun his United career working with the Under-18s after joining the club from Tottenham in 2016, he was particularly close to the younger players.
McKenna played an important role in the development of players like Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams, who he converted into a left-back.
But previous reports suggest that not all the players at United will be upset by McKenna’s departure.
After Solskjaer’s sacking in November, the Daily Mail reported that McKenna is seen as ‘dry and school-teacherly’ by some players while others have ‘privately wondered how he had risen to such a position of power’.
His relative youth and inexperience at a huge club like United had reportedly led to some other tensions.
When McKenna was promoted from the Under-18s to the first team in 2018, there was some friction with senior players.
The Athletic claims that some who were unfamiliar with his work debated his appointment.
That was perhaps due, in part, to the Northern Irishman’s low key playing career: he was forced to retire at Tottenham in 2009 aged just 23 due to a recurring hip problem.
He quickly went into coaching and gained his UEFA Pro Licence in June 2017, having already been hired by United on the back of his work with Spurs’ youngsters.
Unsurprisingly, United football director John Murtough was full of praise for McKenna in his departing statement.
“Kieran is a hugely talented coach who has been a real asset to the club during his time here,” he said.
“Working with the Under-18s, he was instrumental in the development of many of our younger players, who then went on to be regulars in the first team.
“He then went on to become a key part of the first-team coaching set-up, where his detailed approach and unstinting hard work have been valued and important.”