Steve McClaren made his return to football yesterday, in an environment which will give him the chance to rebuild his career.
The former England manager, 47, who has been out of work since November following the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, has agreed a two-year deal at the Dutch Eredivisie club FC Twente. He takes over from Fred Rutten, who moved to the Bundesliga with Schalke in April after guiding Twente to a place in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League last season.
McClaren – who will be assisted by Erik ten Hag, a former Twente player – said he was advised by another former England manager, Sir Bobby Robson, to take the job at the Enschede-based club. Robson had two spells in the Netherlands in charge of PSV Eindhoven in the early and the late 1990s, winning the title in 1991 and 1992. He also moved to the country straight after leaving the England job following the 1990 World Cup.
"Sir Bobby Robson told me that this would be a nice challenge for me," McClaren said. "He also told me that FC Twente is a fantastic club and that I would feel at home. I am looking forward to this new challenge."
He continued, "I noted from the first meeting with chairman Joop Munsterman and other people at the club that they were very co-operative. It's an exciting time for the club, they were very successful under Fred Rutten and I cannot wait to meet the players and technical staff and to get to work.
"I would like to say to the fans, about whom I have heard a lot, that we will do everything we can to bring the club further success."
Elsewhere, the prospect seemed unlikely amid the factionalism which led one to describe his relationship with the other as "unworkable" on national Canadian radio last year, but Liverpool's co-owners have improved their communication for the good of the club according to George Gillett, who recruited Tom Hicks to help finance his purchase of the club.
Gillett's revelation, in a rare interview with Canadian radio station Fan590, that "it took a while for both of us to realise that we weren't communicating very well and the huge responsibility we have to the fans to do the right thing for the club" is an unexpected one, considering that the internal strife between the two made a sale to Dubai International Capital seem imminent a few months ago. Gillett added: "I believe that the Hicks family are communicating better with us and we're communicating better with them and I think that will be much better for the club."
Though Gillett would not be drawn on the issue of the sale of his 50 per cent share to DIC, it is still likely to go ahead. Gillett is understood to be attending to financial issues of his own before returning to the issue. And though Gillett's disclosure will create a much-needed sense of calm at the club, the Americans lack of finance is storing up trouble ahead on two fronts.
Most significantly, there is no evidence that Hicks and Gillett have the necessary cash to begin detailed contractual talks with contractors Laing O'Rourke to ensure work begins this autumn on the new £300m stadium on which the club's financial development is underpinned.
Also, the lack of funds has left Rafael Benitez forced to expect many players to leave – with Peter Crouch and Xabi Alonso likely to be in their number to raise cash for purchases of his own.