Patience has paid off for Robbie Neilson after the former Hearts and MK Dons boss was handed the chance to build something special at Dundee United.
Neilson had swift chances to get back into management after losing his job in Milton Keynes in January and was heavily linked with St Mirren in the summer.
But the 38-year-old held off and was rewarded with the United head coach job after Csaba Laszlo’s departure eight days earlier.
Chairman Mike Martin quickly identified Neilson as the man he wanted to lead United out of the Ladbrokes Championship at the third time of asking after the former Tannadice defender achieved that feat when leading Hearts to a record-breaking title win ahead of Rangers and Hibernian in 2015.
Neilson said: “Initially when I came out of MK there were a couple of jobs that came up and I spoke to them. I was tempted to get back in right away because sometimes people say get straight back on and go again.
“But I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t think I was ready. I think you need that wee period out just to assess what you’ve done and reflect on it.
“I thought things might have happened over the summer and, yes, ideally you get in somewhere and build, but it wasn’t to be.
“But I waited and I waited and when I came back from England there were a couple of jobs I thought would be good jobs if they came up, and thankfully Dundee United was one of them. It’s come up and I’m thankful I have been given the opportunity.
“When I left MK I wanted the opportunity to go somewhere that I thought I could build something and somewhere that excited me when I went in, and this certainly does. I’m really, really excited about it.
“It’s a great football club, I know that from the short time I had here as a player and from the history of the club, and where it can get to. My job is to try and help it get there.
“There’s huge potential, we know that. We are in a difficult situation just now but we are where we are and we just have to deal with it and try and get out of this league.”
United drifted eight points off leaders Ayr when they lost at Somerset Park on Saturday but Martin has made it clear that instant promotion is the target.
But that demand sits comfortably with Neilson, who left Hearts second in the Premiership when he left for England.
“You can go into a pressure environment and you can flourish, or you can go into an environment that’s got no pressure, no demands, nobody pushing it forward and just float along in life,” said Neilson, who begins on Saturday against Partick Thistle, who failed in a late bid to tempt him to Maryhill.
“Anybody that’s been successful would far rather be in that environment where there’s pressure, because it drives you forward. Yes, there’s pressure here, but it’s a good pressure.
“Having seen the squad from the outside, it excited me, the quality and the depth and experience as well. But having seen them in training and the standard we have got, then we have a real chance in this league.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P