For the second time within 12 months, FC Cincinnati general manager Gerard Nijkamp led a global search to appoint a new head coach for the club, entering just its second season.
FC Cincy fielded more than 100 applicants while Nijkamp combed his extensive network of contacts both in Europe and the United States, formulating a shortlist of 10 candidates. From there, the club shrunk the pool to three final candidates: Jaap Stam, Dom Kinnear and a third, unreported, potential hire.
On Thursday, the Orange and Blue announced Stam would be their next head coach. The former Manchester United and Netherlands national team defender worked with Nijkamp at PEC Zwolle, one of his managerial experiences that also includes Reading and Feyenoord.
“Yes, I like Jaap a lot how he is as a professional and what he will bring to our club," Nijkamp told reporters on a video conference call Friday morning. "We worked very pleasant at PEC Zwolle, he did a great job. The most important thing is quality.”
Extratime talks Stam hiring
Nijkamp joked that the Netherlands is a big country but everyone assumes he's friends with every Dutch person, adding that his relationship with Stam wasn't the reason why he got the job. Both parties were convinced the fit was good, as did the rest of Cincy's front office and ownership.
“As a head coach if you’re looking for a job, can you get an opportunity that’s worthwhile?" Stam said. "The kind of project where you can develop, grow yourself even more and help the club to become a big piece in a big league. I think FC Cincinnati is that club. I’m very happy they came out with myself and I’m the head coach of FC Cincinnati.”
Joining such a young club, Stam has the opportunity to create a lasting legacy. Cincinnati are set to open their brand new West End Stadium next year, a monumental season for the club.
Nijkamp also confirmed that two-time interim head coach Yoann Damet will remain on Stam's coaching staff, as expected. Stam said he had a good laugh at the mishap on the club's announcement of his hiring — where they initially mistakenly used a photo of someone else — adding that he enjoyed the banter.
The two crowning achievements of Stam's managerial career so far was engineering an unlikely push for promotion to the Premier League with Reading and helping guide PEC Zwolle away from relegation in the Netherlands. He also had a short lived stint with Feyenoord, resigning within a year.
“At Feyenoord, we made certain agreements but then things changed," Stam said. "So I made the decision that it’d be better for someone else to step in because what we agreed on totally changed.”
Now, FC Cincy are working to bring Nijkamp, Stam and new assistant coach Said Bakkati from Europe back to America during a global pandemic. The timeline is TBD at the moment.
“We’re working with legal counsel and appropriate federal authorities in order to get necessary approvals," club president Jeff Berding said. "Last night we took the first step in filing applications for Jaap and Said, we will have more conversations today on those efforts. We’re going to need permission, not only to get them permits but also just get them into the country.”