'He will impress from day one' - Town legend Magilton on 'exciting' McKenna appointment
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Ipswich Town icon Jim Magilton has backed new boss Kieran McKenna to hit the ground running at Portman Road.
McKenna takes charge of the Blues today, following his appointment last week, with the former Manchester United coach watching from the stands as his new side drew 1-1 with Sunderland on Saturday.
He’s the club’s 19th permanent manager, following in the footsteps of fellow Northern Irishman Magilton, who of course played a central role as the Blues won promotion to the Premier League in 2000 and then qualified for Europe, before managing the club from 2006-09.
Magilton and McKenna have worked together before as part of the Northern Ireland set-up, at a time when Magilton was the Irish FA’s elite performance director, with the former Town player and manager extremely impressed with what he saw.
"I’d heard people talk about him in glowing terms so I asked him in to come and work with the Under 21s," said Magilton, speaking to the club website.
"From the moment I met him, I was impressed and he is one of the top coaches I have ever worked with. His attention to detail is brilliant, he is so meticulous.
"He’s a very good man-manager and the players will understand what he wants from them. There will be clear guidelines. I don’t know the players at Ipswich now. There are some experienced players there but I can guarantee you Kieran will impress them from day one.
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"I interviewed him for the Under 21s job and he impressed me more than anyone else I have interviewed. I wanted him but he had commitments at Spurs though and we couldn’t make it work.
"This is a great opportunity for him though. It might be seen as a 'left field' appointment because he has no managerial experience but he gained a wealth of knowledge through working at top clubs and with top players and all the demands that go with that.
"He is hungry for success and no one will work harder to achieve that than Kieran. When you add that to his coaching experience from his time at Manchester United, I’d say Ipswich have done very well to get him.”
He continued: "It’s a good fit and an exciting appointment. They have given him a long contract so that tells me the club are building something.
"He’s a very strong character and while he will want to play an attacking brand of football, he will also be adaptable.
"He knows the game and I think he can be a really big success at the club. He has got to win football matches. He knows that but I’m 100 per cent sure he has all the attributes to do that and if you can get some momentum, who knows what can be achieved."
McKenna began his coaching career in his early 20s after a chronic hip injury brought his time on the pitch to an end while he was progressing through the ranks at Tottenham.
"He was an outstanding young player and would have gone on to have had a good career if he hadn’t had that terrible hip injury at Tottenham,” Magilton said. “He was an energetic midfield player and I liked him a lot.
"You do wonder what will happen when a player is forced to quit at such a young age but it gave him a chance to get on the coaching ladder early and I’m not surprised at all to see what he has gone on to achieve."