Even before he interviewed for the head coaching job, Gerhard Struber was well-known to the New York Red Bulls.
Struber began his coaching career in the global Red Bull sporting group as an academy manager for RB Salzburg and most recently was with Barnsley, coaching in the English pyramid that RBNY head of sport Kevin Thelwell had spent most of his professional career working in. Furthermore, Thelwell noted that Struber is been a coach that he's tracked for a long time.
Little more than a month after the club had a vacancy for their head coaching job, the Red Bulls were able to get their man. They paid an undisclosed transfer fee to Barnsley to acquire his services, and are convinced he is the right fight.
But Struber won't be roaming the touchlines for the Red Bulls any time soon.
“It’s very much about the visa process, that’s slightly more difficult during these times of COVID," Thelwell told reporters on a virtual press conference Wednesday. "We’re anticipating 6-8 weeks to get him across the water. If it’s less than that, we’ll be delighted.”
Thelwell did note that Struber will very much be a part of the dialogue and decision making with both the front office and current coaching staff, led by interim boss Bradley Carnell.
The club believe the wait will be worth it for the right candidate.
“We’re delighted to get him, he meets the requirements for our club and the league moving forward," Thelwell said. "He’s someone I’ve been tracking for some time now. … He has a youth development background, he proved he’s capable of getting results and getting results in playing a style that suits us. We’re looking very forward to him joining us in due course.”
Struber helped rescue Barnsley from relegation from the Championship, having taken over last November with the club languishing in last place with just one win after 16 matches. He earned plaudits across the country for his relentless pressing system, something Red Bull fans will be familiar with.
Taking the job in New York puts Struber back into the Red Bull organization, where he previously spent several years coaching the Red Bull Salzburg's youth and reserve sides. That stint helped the club learn even more about the Austrian. That fact does raise thoughts that perhaps Struber's future could one day be in Salzburg or Leipzig, much like former Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch, who went on from New York to become an assistant at Leipzig before taking the head coaching post at Salzburg.
“Without question, he’s well-known to the rest of the organization," Thelwell said. "That helped in the process, we got some very good references, but this is all about New York. Who knows what’ll happen in the future, but we want someone who wants to be in New York. I got that sense in talking to Gerhard. He’s extremely committed to us.
“We’re trying to find individuals who are highly ambitious and wants to achieve things. What happens then, they get on the radar of other football clubs, let alone just our football group. I have no doubts we have the right guy. During this time am I expecting him to get interest from other clubs, either in our group or across football? I hope so, because that means he’s doing a very good job.”