Gullit's new challenge in Grozny
Ruud Gullit has been in a few difficult situations during his coaching career but the Dutch legend has really taken on a challenge by accepting the job at the helm of the Russian Premier League side Terek Grozny.
Public disagreements with the then Chelsea chairman Ken Bates and Newcastle hero Alan Shearer during his stints at those clubs seem to pale by comparison to trying to make a club competitive that finished 12th out of 16 teams in the Russian top flight last season, just three points above the relegation zone.
There is also the political situation in Chechnya to take into account.
Even though the mood in Grozny, the capital city, has been a lot calmer in the last two years since the Russian government in Moscow managed to reassert its control over the region, the social, economic and psychological scars after two wars in the last 20 years still remain.
There is widespread poverty, with approximately half the adult population having no regular work, and foreign correspondents almost uniformly comment on an air of repression and climate of fear that seems to exists in Grozny.
Gullit has signed an 18-month contract with Russian club Terek Grozny - photo: AP.
Nevertheless, Gullit was undaunted when he took over in January.
"My aim is to get the club into the top five of the Premier League and so into Europe. I want some of my players to make the grade in the Russian international team," said the Dutchman.
That may prove a tall order. The only time Terek have ventured into continental competition was a brief campaign in the Uefa Cup after winning the Russian Cup in 2004 when they were still a Second Division team.
The Russian Premier League is a tough division, but teams have yet to truly make their mark on the continental stage despite CSKA Moscow winning the Uefa Cup in 2005.
Zenit St Petersburg may have only lost two games last season to win their second title in four seasons but they and Spartak Moscow, who lead the way after winning the Russian championship nine times since the break up of the Soviet Union, and the latter's local rivals CSKA and Lokomotiv, as well as Rubin Kazan, are all closely matched.
Gullit's men will have to break into that group if they are to meet the Dutchman's target.
Nobody is saying officially how much Gullit is being paid to try and establish Terek among Russia';s leading sides, but press reports have put his salary at just over £5m a year, with big bonuses if they qualify for the Champions League.
However, it still remains small change for 34-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov, who inherited the roles of regional and club president after his father Akhmad was assassinated at the Terek stadium by a bomb blast during a military parade in May 2004.
The authorities in Moscow are giving him an annual subsidy of nearly £2bn to renovate the city and he has ploughed a reasonable chunk of it into the club, building a new 30,000 capacity stadium for the club and opening up a new youth academy, named rather egotistically, Ramzan.
"Football is a way of fighting extremism," Kadyrov is fond of saying.
The new season started in Russia last weekend and it did not start the way Gullit, or Kadyrov, would have liked, with Terek suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to Zenit on Sunday.
The visitors, led by Italian coach Luciano Spalletti, who acquired cult status and provided plenty of front page photos in Russia when he stripped to the waist in freezing temperatures to celebrate his team clinching their title in November, won with a goal by Serbian striker Danko Lazovic.
Terek president Ramzan Kadyrov (left) apponted Gullit - photo: AFP.
"Ruud Gullit flunked his first exam in the Russian championship," read the headline in Sovetsky Sport.
However, the 48-eight-year Dutchman, who has an 18-month contract with his new club, was more upbeat after Sunday's game.
"I think you could see we still didn't play a real match in comparison with Zenit and we got into the game more slowly, but I'm very proud of my team, especially the way they picked up in the second half," said Gullit, who is well remembered in Russia for captaining the Netherlands to victory over the Soviet Union in the final of the Euro 88, and also scoring the first goal in that 2-0 win.
Regardless of how the rest of the season progresses for Gullit, Zenit will keep their crown as Russian champions until the middle of next year.
The Russian football federation has decided to break away from their traditional March-November schedule to try to synchronise with the rest of Europe, as well as assist their teams to progress further in the Champions League with a more helpful format, and the current season has been extended to May 2012.
If plenty of attention has been focused on Gullit's arrival at Terek, the other eye-catching news story since the end of last season in Russia has been the £27.6m Anzhi Makhachkala has spent on new players in the last two months.
Bought by Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov on 18 January - the same day that Gullit joined Terek - Anzhi Makhachkala's spending constitutes almost the same as the total winter spend of the Russian Premier League's other 15 clubs.
Anzhi's new boys include the exciting Dutch-born Moroccan international midfielder Mbark Boussoufa, who signed for them from Anderlecht only last week after turning down Gullit's offer to move to Terek.
Anzhi's most high-profile signing cost nothing, with 37-year-old former Brazilian international left back Roberto Carlos, who was a mainstay of Real Madrid's three most recent Champions League victories, arriving after being released from his contract by his former club Corinthians.
Comments on this blog in the space below. Other questions on European football to: email@example.com. I do not need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.
Q) I wondered what your view was on the attitude towards the Europa League across Europe. The tournament appears to be treated with considerable disdain in England with sides fielding weakened teams and generally viewing it as an inconvenience, rather than an opportunity to win a European trophy. Is this attitude widespread across the other major leagues in Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy etc?
Nick Young, Liverpool, England
A) I can only give a personal impression but I get the feeling that you are right and that in Spain and Italy few clubs take the Europa League particularly seriously unless, by accident rather than design, they reach the knockout stages. This was certainly evident by the performances of Atletico Madrid and Getafe as well as Juventus, Palermo and Sampdoria in the group stages. With the greatest respect to the teams that finished ahead of them, you would not have expected all of them to go out if they had been, to use an English turn-of-phrase 'up for it'.
By contrast, having three Dutch clubs, three Portuguese clubs and three Russian clubs in the last 16 tends to suggest that the Europa League means more to clubs, and certainly at an earlier stage in the competition, in those countries than in Spain and Italy.