Manager – Kieran McKenna
30-year-old Kieran McKenna arrived from Tottenham Hotspur in September 2016, a replacement for Paul McGuiness seven months after his predecessor’s departure.
McKenna was a professional footballer at Spurs, having joined from Enniskillen Town in Northern Ireland, until the age of 23, his career ended by a hip injury.
“I was involved with Tottenham since a 14-year-old lad coming across from Ireland to train with the youth team there. I was full time since 16 and had seven fantastic years as a player. Obviously, the last couple were heavily disrupted by injury and I finished my playing career at 23 years old.” – McKenna.
He wasted no time following his injury, becoming a coach at Spurs’ academy. The boyhood United fan has a dream job at Carrington as under-18s boss and began his tenure, winning his first two games and scoring ten goals in the process.
Main league: Under-18 Premier League
The U18 Premier League (or U18PL as you may see it shortened to, at points) is split into two divisions, not separated by ability but by geography. At the beginning of the season, there are 12 teams in the North Division and 12 teams in the South Division. Manchester United’s under-18s are, of course, in the North Division.
Each team plays each other twice, home and away, in 90-minute fixtures, usually on Saturday mornings at 11AM, with some exceptions. Games are held at the club’s training ground, so United’s under-18 side play at Carrington with the under-16s (whether home or away) playing the same opposition on a pitch nearby.
Once all fixtures have been played, the top four from each division make up Group 1 of the play-off stages. If a team finishes 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th, they play in Group 2 and if they finish in the bottom four of their division, they shall play in Group 3.
In the 2015/16 season, United finished second bottom of the North Division and thus played in Group 3 at the play-off stages, finishing fourth.
In the 2016/17 season, United finished second in the North Division, qualifying for Merit Group 1 of the play-off stages.
North Division teams: Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Stoke City, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Cup competition: FA Youth Cup
A famous trophy, this is the tournament that sent the Busby Babes, the Class of ’92 and many others on their way to success at Old Trafford. The format is simple, it’s the FA Cup, but for under-19 sides.
In the 2015/16 season, United were defeated in the fourth round by eventual winners Chelsea, losing 5-1.
In the 2016/17 season, United went out in the third round after defeat to Southampton.
United join this year’s competition in the third round and McKenna will be hoping to emulate his achievement with Spurs last season, reaching the semi-final with the North London club only to be beaten by Chelsea, like his current club were at an earlier stage.