Jaap StamGetty Images

Stam reveals ‘interesting’ talks over FC Cincinnati job

Jaap Stam has revealed he has been in talks with FC Cincinnati to become the club’s new head coach and says a move to Major League Soccer is an appealing option.

However, the Manchester United legend, who has been out of work since resigning as Feyenoord boss in October, says discussions have been temporarily halted just to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cincinnati have been without a head coach since February, when Ron Jans resigned after an investigation launched by MLS found that he had made "extremely inappropriate comments" in front of his players.

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Stam, who won three Premier League titles as a player, has been widely viewed as one of the leading candidates to replace Jans, along with MLS stalwart Dominic Kinnear.

Speaking exclusively to Goal, the 47-year-old Dutchman has now admitted he is open to potentially making the switch to Ohio.

“It is possible, the interest is there and I’ve had talks,” Stam said. “But because of the situation with coronavirus and everything that is going on in the States, it’s on hold. We just need to wait to see what’s going to happen.

“But it’s a very interesting league and a very interesting club. So, it looks good, but I can’t say if it’s going to happen or not.”

FC Cincinnati are one of the newest franchises in MLS, having made the leap from the United Soccer League (USL) in 2019.

They finished bottom of the table in their first season and failed to pick up a point in their opening two games of the current campaign.

However, the club is determined to progress and will soon move into a new 26,000-capacity stadium, with construction on track to be completed in 2021.

Jaap Stam at Reading 2017/18Getty Images

It's that project, and level of ambition, that is attracting Stam to the project.

“I think in America everyone wants to be the best in what they are doing and they want to develop,” the former centre-back said.

“You can see that the league is becoming more attractive for a lot of people. There are good players over there and a lot of people want to work there because they are trying to create something good.

“That’s what I like as well. I like to build something. I like to work with a team that wants to grow and become stronger. That’s how I was as a player and how I am as a coach as well.

“I like the challenge of building something and trying to bring a team to a certain level if the opportunity is there.”

Cincinnati appointed Gerard Nijkamp as general manager in May, the 50-year-old arriving from Netherlands, where he had been working as technical director for PEC Zwolle.

While at Zwolle, Nijkamp hired Stam as head coach in December 2018 – with Stam leading the relegation-threatened side to safety in the Eredivisie before leaving for Feyenoord at the end of the season.

However, Stam, who spent nearly two years in charge of Championship side Reading between June 2016 and March 2018, is adamant that Cincinnati’s interest in him is not just down to his relationship with Nijkamp.

“I know him, but that’s not why he goes for me,” said Stam. “We have a good understanding but a club like Cincinnati is a young club, they are in their second season in MLS, so they can’t afford to be friendly to people because they know them.

“He’s not making decisions by himself, he’s working together with other people at the club and they will make the decision together about what they are doing.”