Csaba Laszlo is back in Scottish football and the new Dundee United manager believes he is a better coach now than when he guided Hearts to third place in the top flight eight years ago.
Laszlo, who succeeds Ray McKinnon, has signed a deal until summer 2019 and is entrusted with the task of leading United back to the Premiership.
The 53-year-old Hungarian spent two years at Hearts working under controversial Lithuanian Vladimir Romanov and has since had stints with Charleroi SC, the Lithuania national team, and MTK Budapest.
Laszlo, who will retain Laurie Ellis as his assistant as he prepares to take charge for the first time in Saturday’s Irn Bru Cup quarter-final tie at home to Crusaders, has fond memories of his Hearts stay which saw him voted manager of the year in 2009.
Having enjoyed the longest reign of any manager under Romanov, from 2008-2010, Laszlo went on to broaden his experience both domestically and internationally and is convinced he’s now better equipped to succeed.
“It wasn’t easy. I think I was the longest-serving manager under Mr Romanov,” said Laszlo. “At the time I wanted to look forward for the club, not myself and this was my mistake. But I don’t change my mind. The club is the most important thing, not me personally. You can save your job if you are selfish but in football and especially if you are a manager, you can’t be selfish. You have a huge community and the club is the most important thing. I haven’t changed my mind about that and I will do the same in the future.
“After Scotland I travelled around the continent. I managed the [Lithuania] national team, I managed two other clubs and know I am different now. I will tell you why. I need glasses for reading, I have less hair and I am greyer but Csaba Laszlo doesn’t change. I have the same character and charisma, I think the same.
“But I have a lot more experience and I can tell you I am a better manager. I know more about football and I learned a lot from other people.”
Laszlo’s remit at United is clear; get them out of the Championship. He said: “Dundee United is a club with a huge history, not just in Scottish football but at the European level. There is only one team who have beaten Barcelona four times home and away. The club can be proud about it but the past can give you a very good foundation to build the future.
“Now we have to talk about the Scottish Championship and how the future is the Scottish Premiership. We want to be there but for this, we have to show confidence. You have to show will, that is most important. Everybody who loves this club has to do this because if you don’t do this, you will never reach your target.”
Laszlo regards Scotland as home to his family and spent his time away from the dug-out wisely which he hopes can prove beneficial now that he’s back in management.
“Yes, it is my home,” he said. “My kids have gone to school here and it is my permanent address.
“I feel at home here. Football is the No 1 sport here and it is my life. So for me, Scottish football has always been very important to me and I know everything about the Championship and Premiership. I know about the clubs but I mostly watched Championship games. Livingston is near to Edinburgh and I watched games there.
“I was never far away from it.”
Laszlo has inherited a side sitting joint top of the Championship following back-to-back wins under Ellis, who’d been acting as caretaker manager.
“We are keeping the same backroom team because I want to learn from them,” Laszlo said. “Laurie is my right hand and I told him you can forget about your wife for the next two or three months because he will always be with me!”