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Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna responds to speculation on his future after winning Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy For LMA Manager of the Year

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna has won the prestigious Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy For LMA Manager of the Year and LMA Championship Manager of the Year – and also responded to speculation surrounding his future saying it’s ‘not where my focus is’.

It comes after the Northern Irishman had already been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Season having ended the Suffolk club’s 22-year absence from the Premier League by leading them to back-to-back automatic promotions in his two years in charge.

The Sir Ferguson Trophy was voted for by the full League Managers Association (LMA) membership and presented by the legendary Manchester United manager at the annual dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London on Tuesday night.

Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna has followed in the footsteps of George Burley in winning the LMA Manager of the Year Picture: Ady Kerry
Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna has followed in the footsteps of George Burley in winning the LMA Manager of the Year Picture: Ady Kerry

McKenna beat five other short-listed managers to the award including Manchester City’s Pep Gardiola, Aston Villa’s Unai Emery and Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta. Everton’s Sean Dyche and Portsmouth’s John Mousinho were also on the list.

The recently-turned 38-year-old became the second Ipswich Town manager to win the award, following in the footsteps of George Burley in 2001, after he led the Blues to fifth in the Premier League the season after promotion.

On accepting the Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy, he said: “It's incredible. Sir Alex Ferguson has been such a great part of my childhood growing up and my love for football, and for the game, has involved him – he's an inspiration.

“It's been a great journey. I'm two-and-a-half years into a management career, but it's been 16 years of working incredibly hard every day pretty much to be the best coach I can be.

“It's the best thing in the world and I've had good experience as a first-team coach, but to be a manager in the Premier League and go up against great managers is going to be a great challenge and something I can't wait for.

“This award is one of the most humbling and proudest moments of my life.”

Ferguson, who is an ‍LMA executive committee member, said: “I extend my congratulations to Kieran McKenna on winning the LMA Manager of the Year award after a memorable season with Ipswich Town.

“He is an incredible young talent who had a great reputation when he was on the coaching staff at Manchester United.

“Kieran is humble and carries tremendous composure, as well as great technical and tactical insight and awareness – all the hallmarks to become a top manager at the very highest level.”

McKenna responds to speculation

McKenna continues to be strongly linked to the vacancy at Brighton & Hove Albion, and now also with Chelsea following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday evening (7/2 second favourite behind Roberto De Zerbi 9/4, according to Oddschecker). He has also been linked with a return to lead former club Manchester United should Erik Ten Hag depart.

Asked by Sky Sports about those links following accepting the LMA awards, he said: “Look, the club has had such a positive season and has such a bright future ahead.

“We’ve achieved so much, it’s been an incredible two years.

“And when you have those two years there always comes speculation and things like that, there’s been that every summer.

“I know how much everyone is looking forward to the season, the club is in a fantastic path and everyone is just really looking forward to the season ahead.”

Asked whether it would be difficult to turn down offers from those clubs should they come, he responded: “Again, when you do well as a manager, or as a player, there’s always going to be speculation.

“I know what we have achieved is not an ordinary thing, so there’s always going to be speculation.

“But that’s not where my focus is tonight, it’s about what we’ve achieved last season, what we’ve achieved over the last couple of seasons, not just myself but everyone at the football club.

“It’s been a wonderful couple of years and tonight’s about celebrating that.

“I know everyone’s looking forward to next season and I know the club’s going to be in a really, really good place going into that season.”

McKenna signed a new four-year contract at Ipswich, taking him up to the summer of 2027, in June last year.

It has been reported that the Blues would be due compensation of £6 million should another club agree to appoint him.

Speaking to the club’s website, McKenna said on the LMA Manager of the Year award: “It’s an incredible honour.

“To see the names that have previously won this award, and for it to be voted for by fellow managers, makes it extra special.

“It’s a very proud moment and I want to thank everyone involved at Ipswich Town, including the board, staff, supporters and players who have played a part in this amazing and historic season.

“On a personal note I also want to thank my family for their support in the years of hard work and sacrifice it has taken to get to this point in my career.”