McKenna promoted to first team by Manchester United

McKenna joined United from Spurs in August 2016

McKenna joined United from Spurs in August 2016

MANCHESTER UNITED Under-18 boss Kieran McKenna has been promoted to first-team coach by Jose Mourinho.

The Northern Irishman steps up following the exit of Mourinho’s long-time assistant Rui Faria, who announced he was leaving Old Trafford last week. Faria has been Mourinho’s right-hand man since 2001, during which time the duo have won 20 major trophies with five different teams.

Although their personal and professional relationship has been extremely close over those 17 years, it became fractious at times last season. There were periods when they did not speak after Mourinho questioned the fitness of the players.

However, the manager lavished praise on his long-time assistant when his departure was announced. “When Rui is leaving after 17 years I have nobody, nobody in the world of football ready to be my assistant manager," he said.

Mourinho said he needed more than one coach to fill the void left by his compatriot, who is both a fitness and tactical/ technical expert.

One of them will be McKenna, who joined United from Tottenham in August 2016 to coach their Under-18s.

The Enniskillen-born coach was a youth player with Spurs, before a hip injury forced him to retire in 2002.

The other first-team coach will be Michael Carrick, who retired from playing at the end of the season. Mourinho said: "I think naturally when Michael has the Pro License badges, normally with the personality he has, with the friendship, with our honesty, I think it will be for him."

Stefano Rapetti will be the third new member of the inner circle. The 41-year-old worked with Mourinho at Inter Milan during their treble-winning season in 2009/10.

“I prefer to educate people, to structure my staff in a way where there is space for their education, for their improvement," Mourinho added.

"But obviously I’m going to improve my staff in the performance level related to the fitness and the relation with the tactical work. So I’m going to bring some people that until this moment you didn’t come with the name yet.”

Faria added: “After a lot of consideration and with a very heavy heart I have decided the time is right to move on. I have had 17 years of incredible and unforgettable experiences.

"However, I have felt for some time I would like to spend much more quality time with my family before pursuing any new challenge in my professional life. My heartfelt thanks go to Jose Mourinho for the belief he had in me all those years ago when it all was just a student dream.

"I would like to thank him for the opportunity and confidence, for the knowledge and experience, but most importantly for his friendship.”

The duo first met at a seminar in Barcelona, when Mourinho was assistant to Louis van Gaal at the Nou Camp and Faria was a University student.

When Mourinho was subsequently appointed manager of Uniao de Leiria in Portugal in 2001, he took Faria with him as his assistant. They have been together ever since - at Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan, Real Madrid and now Manchester United.

Faria is highly-qualified as both a coach - he holds the Uefa Pro Licence - and as a fitness trainer, having a degree in sport science.

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