I was Manchester United’s secret weapon as a coach – now I might become their manager

“He said something like ‘maybe next time, drop off a little bit’. The lad was washing his hair, going ‘that’s really helpful, thanks boss.’ That just shows you his intensity and desire.

“Kieran was compelled to tell the player that information and it could have probably waited, but he went clothed into the shower to tell him how to improve next time. To be fair, the players never told him to naff off, they always thought it was really helpful and were thankful.”

Some 10 years have now passed since McKenna graduated from Loughborough. This season, he secured a second successive promotion with Ipswich Town, into the Premier League as he further enhanced his reputation as one of the game’s most exciting and tactically brilliant young coaches.

The Loughborough coaching alumni included McKenna, former United coach Eric Ramsay and Matt Prestridge, who has been a Premier League first-team coach at Sheffield United.

“We had a group who were really committed to coaching and learning their craft. They’ve all gone on to get brilliant jobs in football,” says Cushion, who still works at the prestigious sports-focussed university.

“To see them doing so well, it makes you very proud, seeing them become successful coaches and having an impact on the game. I’ve been coaching for 30 years and even at the time, you could see Kieran’s talent and with opportunity, you could see he would go far. He stood out.”

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