Something of a shock departure from Oakwell earlier this season, Gerhard Struber has since departed the Tykes for pastures new with New York Red Bulls of the MLS, but how did we get to this stage and how is he getting on in the United States?
Appointed by the Barnsley hierarchy back in November 2019, Struber was quickly tasked with securing the club’s Championship safety for another year after inheriting one of the youngest squads in the division – a feat which would be tough for even the most experienced of Championship level managers.
The Austrian however instilled some much needed fire in the bellies of his squad upon taking over the role and led the Tykes to survival despite the club sitting bottom of the league and seven points adrift from safety upon his appointment.
Most people could’ve been forgiven for writing the Oakwell club off but thanks to a healthy run of results and two last gasp stoppage time wins over promotion contenders Brentford and Nottingham Forest respectively, Barnsley reached their goal of safety on the final day of the 2019/20 campaign.
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The target for the current season was to stabalise and become a established club at second tier level after years of moving between League One and the Championship, with Struber setting some ambitious goals.
However disaster soon struck for Barnsley as the Austrian manager was head hunted for the vacant role in New York back in October, with the MLS club paying the sum of the release clause in the 43-year-old’s contract – with Struber seemingly hellbent on rejoining the Red Bull family after previously managing the organisation’s sister club, Red Bull Salzburg earlier in his career.
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Upon leaving the Tykes, the club’s chief executive officer, Dane Murphy, put out the following statement via the club’s website:
“I must start by thanking Gerhard for the last 11 months. Tasked with maintaining the Club’s Championship status, he took a difficult position at Oakwell last November. Despite the seven point deficit and COVID-19 , his belief never wavered and the night at Brentford will live long in the memory of all supporters.
“As much as we wanted Gerhard to remain at Oakwell we were not in a position to deny him this opportunity with a buy-out clause in his contract and his connection within the Red Bull set-up.”
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Since leaving the Tykes, Struber has largely impressed during his time with New York Red Bulls, with the MLS club finishing in sixth place in the standings after 23 games played – however they were recently knocked out of the end of season play-offs by Columbus Crew, losing 3-2 away from home.
His time at the club was short but sweet, but Struber will always be remembered by fans of the Reds as the man who masterminded the great escape when at first things seemed impossible.