The New York Red Bulls have named Gerhard Struber as their new head coach following the departure of Chris Armas. Struber joins The Red Bulls after leaving EFL Championship club Barnsley, who he coached for less than a year.
Before Barnsley the Austrian coach previously worked in the Red Bull system, so let’s take a look at what he’s done within Red Bull and what he’ll offer as the new head coach of the New York Red Bulls.
In his playing days, Struber was a midfielder and started off his professional career with the formally known SV Austria Salzburg (now Red Bull Salzburg). He spent six years at the club from 1995 to 2001 and accomplished the domestic double with the club, winning the Austrian Bundesliga and ÖFB Supercup in the 1996/97 campaign. He would go on to play for numerous clubs in Austria after leaving Salzburg in 2001, but eventually returned to the club in 2008 for his last season before retirement.
The year after his retirement, Struber turned to coaching and he would stay within the Red Bull system by becoming the head coach of Red Bull Salzburg Under-19. He would continue in Salzburg’s youth setup, coaching the U15s, U16s, and then the U19s for a second time while working as a part-time salesman for an insurance company until 2014.
After coaching the academy teams and being a part time salesman, Struber got a chance to manage FC Liefering for the 2017/18 campaign. He would finish fifth that season, securing 14 wins, 13 draws, and 9 losses with the young second division side. He would eventually leave the club though in January 2019 to focus on earning his UEFA Pro License.
Having earned that license, he became Wolfsberger AC manager where he led the team in the Europa League last season. In one of his most notable matches for the club, Wolfsberg faced Borussia Mönchengladbach in the first group stage match and against former Red Bull Salzburg head coach, Marco Rose. The match was dominated by Wolfsberg and the Austrian side pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the group stages by beating them 4-0 in North Rhine-Westphalia.
However, the team couldn’t build off this win and they were eventually knocked out of the group stages. Struber eventually left in that November to become Barnsley’s head coach in the EFL Championship and helped the club survive relegation by the tightest of margins on the final day of the season.
After four games this season with Barnsley, losing three, the New York Red Bulls paid an undisclosed fee to the English club to release Struber from his contract, allowing him to take the reigns in New Jersey.
Style of play is everything for Red Bull and especially RBNY, so Struber’s philosophy played a big part in this deal taking place. One of the key elements to a Red Bull team is the counter-pressing, which is something very important for Struber. When Struber’s side loses the ball, expect compact counter-pressing from his players, eventually forcing the opponent to give up possession or hit a long ball up the field and hope someone gets to it. For New York Red Bulls supporters, this may remind them of the Jesse Marsch sides who pressed every ball, which was one of the main reasons why the team was so successful under him.
On the offensive side, Struber likes his teams to have verticality and to overload the central part of the field. By doing this, it opens up space to play passes to the attacking players. Struber also likes to play with a diamond four in the midfield to dominate the middle part of the field and create chances, so expect a 4-4-2 diamond formation from this Red Bull side.
There is plenty to be excited about when it comes to Gerhard Struber and it will be interesting to see how his tactics work in Major League Soccer. Head of Sport, Kevin Thelwell, has shown through these decisions that he means business and there is a continuing theme of setting a high standard at the New York Red Bulls. While this is one piece to the puzzle, it is a big piece and will no doubt have a big impact at the club.