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How can Chelsea fit in under Kieran McKenna

Chelsea’s search for a new manager could end up taking them to Ipswich Town’s Kieran McKenna.

If you’re looking for an up-and-coming manager, few in English football come with a plot quite like McKenna, who led Ipswich to back-to-back promotions – a feat that almost defies logic.

If he does move to Stamford Bridge, here’s how McKenna might plan.

Djordje Petrovic

Petrovic’s second year / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

The limited options at the top level may convince McKenna to stick with Petrovic, whose first season at Chelsea was solid without a breakthrough.

McKenna wants his goalkeeper to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and willing to play long at times, so he will definitely show some interest in Robert Sanchez, but Petrovic could get a chance to continue working on his game with the ball at his feet. .

Recece James

James could be the focal point of the team / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

McKenna’s Ipswich fans will know all about Leif Davis, a left-back who is encouraged to step up and fire down like he’s going out of style. Davis had 21 assists in 43 games last season, and Chelsea fans would love to see that from James on the other end.

Focusing on James will require a complete overhaul of McKenna’s tactics but it should prove worth it, with James arguably one of the best right backs in the world when his legs allow him.

Wesley Fofana

Fofana nears his return / Catherine Steenkeste/GettyImages

Pochettino never got the chance to work with Fofana but the Frenchman should return from his ACL injury early to remind whoever is in charge what he is all about.

McKenna’s Ipswich often find themselves in incredibly open games, which require both sharpness and tenacity from defenders. If Fofana returns to form after injury, expect him to play a big role next season.

Castello Lukeba

Lukeba will fit right in / Luciano Lima/GettyImages

The first new player in the club is Castello Lukeba, who is reportedly back on Chelsea’s radar again. The left-footed defender was admired by the Blues before he joined RB Leipzig last summer and would make a smart addition to the club due to his versatility.

Lukeba is similar to the likes of Manchester City duo Nathan Ake and Josko Gvardiol – two central defenders who can thrive in a converted role as well. He fits the two roles under McKenna.

Levi Colwill

Colwill may be needed on the left again / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

Some Chelsea fans may be disappointed to see Colwill, a natural full-back, being widely circulated again, but all is not as it seems. Focusing on James down the right will see McKenna drop inside to form a back three, so Colwill is unlikely to spend too long on the touchline.

McKenna favors a bait-and-bypass system similar to the one in which Colwill thrived under Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton, so the academy graduate shouldn’t need long to adapt to the tactics laid out for him.

Enzo Fernandez

Fernandez under pressure / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Next season feels like no more work or break for Fernandez, who is struggling to show his best under Pochettino – although an eight-month battle with a hernia explains that.

This field pivot is important to McKenna’s setup. He wants short, quick passes from players who are comfortable enough to fight the press, while he wants smart moves to get forward and touch things in the final third. In theory, that is the player Chelsea believe they have with Fernandez.

Moises Caicedo

Caicedo remains key / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Caicedo’s work rate and ability to move from one area to another should make him a good fit for McKenna’s two midfielders.

Like Colwill, Caicedo should also get used to McKenna’s desire to attract defenders and play around them.

Cole Palmer

Image credit: Palmer / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

McKenna wants the winner on the side of his elite defenders to cut inside to create space. That job lends itself perfectly to Palmer, who needs to play in the middle and get on the ball as much as possible.

Omari Hutchinson played in this role under McKenna and would have a chance to stay with the team next season, although he may have to accept more minutes on the bench for the most part.

Christopher Mr

Nkunku may thrive under McKenna / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Attacking midfielder is important to McKenna. Your typical shadow striker, who needs to float around in the final third to create goals and score loads. Conor Chaplin has 39 goals and 14 assists in two years under McKenna at Ipswich.

That freedom has to be completely dedicated to Nkunku, who does his best work in front of the midfielder but behind the center forward. Chelsea fans should be very happy with Nkunku’s prospects in this set-up.

Raheem Sterling

Sterling will hope for a strong season / Catherine Ivill – AMA/GettyImages

This place is different. With James providing more width on the right, McKenna will want his left-back to stay open, hug the touchline, get in crosses and send cut-backs into the box that they have left careless.

Ignore the crosses, those instructions sound very similar to the instructions Sterling worked under at Manchester City. If he is that player, this could give Sterling a great chance to restart his career.

Nicholas Jackson

Jackson could be a good fit / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

It’s easy to insert Victor Osimhen here, and there are plenty of signs to suggest that it will be the Nigerian who leads the line for whoever takes over, but for McKenna, Jackson could actually be a good point of attack.

McKenna likes a big, strong forward who can lift it, but he also wants his forward to connect with those around him and stretch the game by charging behind him. That’s what Jackson does, and he does it better than most closers. Maybe the big money doesn’t need to be spent?


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