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20 December 2021

"He’s a very strong character and he will want to play an attacking brand of football"

Jim Magilton is backing Kieran McKenna to bring success to Ipswich Town and says the appointment is a perfect fit.

Kieran became Town’s 19th manager when he signed a three-and-a-half-year contract on Thursday, and watched Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sunderland from the Directors' Box.

It’s a move Magilton labels as 'exciting' and he is convinced it’s the right move at the right time for his fellow countryman.

"I have known Kieran for a long time through the Northern Ireland international setup," the former Town skipper and manager told the Club website.

"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. 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."

Magilton got the chance to see Kieran close up when he brought him into work with the Northern Ireland U21 squad.

"I’d heard people talk about him in glowing terms so I asked him in to come and work with the U21s," explained the ex Blue, who was the Irish FA's elite performance director at that time.

"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.

"I interviewed him for the U21s 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.

"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."

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