Hamann takes over at Stockport - with a squad of nine players


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The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson had warned him against the idea but Dietmar Hamann (below) yesterday began his managerial career with a squad of nine players at Stockport County, whose predecessor has just been sacked a month after being handed the position permanently.

County, newly-relegated to the Blue Square Conference, do not know yet if the consortium of investors whose figurehead is a 27-year-old Liverpool businessman, Tony Evans, will actually convert their talk to hard investment. Evans, who said he has known Hamann for three months, said a "six-figure sum" would be invested if the consortium's due diligence process was successfully concluded before an 7 August deadline.

Hamann, 37, said that Eriksson, with whom he had been working as first-team coach at Leicester City, "thought I should have started higher up." But the former Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder concluded that "if you don't fancy a challenge in football, you won't get where you want to be."

His first task yesterday, having accepted a proposition put to him last week by lifelong Liverpool fan Evans, was to call his unfortunate predecessor, Ray Mathias, who had embarked on a summer clearout of players following relegation from the league, to ask him if he wanted to continue at the club in some capacity.

Mathias, the former Tranmere Rovers manager, did not offer an immediate answer. Hamann said he will mine his contacts from the Premier League down to seek loan players to add to the club's paltry group on nine pros, augmented by "18 or 19 YTS lads" whom he admitted were not ready for the Blue Square Conference. Evans, who has already hired Bell Pottinger to handle the consortium's PR, said money would be available to help get County back in the League.

"You can't take it with you," he declared, though the identity of his co-investors and the source and size of their proposed investment remains unclear. Evans describes himself as a management, sales and marketing consultant to the Essex-based solicitors GT Law.

Evans dismissed suggestions that he is a frontman for his friend Stephen Vaughan, the Liverpool businessman and the former Chester City owner who became the first owner to fail the Football League's fit and proper person test in November 2009, following his involvement in a £500,000 VAT fraud. Vaughan was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in March, not for VAT fraud, but for an attack on a police officer. "I know Stephen well. He is a good guy," Evans said. "He is not involved in this consortium."