Thursday, 21 November 2019

A Huge Task Lies Ahead For Barnsley's New Manager Gerhard Struber


After an intensive managerial search, Barnsley have appointed the less known Austrian Gerhard Struber as their new manager. The Austrian arrives in England after an excellent few months in charge of Wolfsberger AC in the Austrian Bundesliga. Struber leaves them in third place behind Red Bull Salzburg and LASK Linz.

Barnsley’s search took them across Europe with Struber eventually being the man chosen to firefight Barnsley’s relegation battle. Barnsley spoke to various managers including Jens Keller and Poya Asbaghi but have chosen the likeable Austrian and he inherits a huge first job in English football.

Struber will go in and stick to his chosen philosophy of hard work and intricate football. He will go with a diamond formation which brought him success at Wolfsberger. The likes of Alex Mowatt, Cameron McGeehan and Callum Styles could thrive in this setup. However, before implementing his style of play, Struber must sort out the Championship’s worst defence. Barnsley have conceded 33 goals in 16 games and that simply must be sorted if Barnsley are going to win games. Barnsley’s inexperienced defence has suffered badly this campaign. It also doesn’t help that former boss Daniel Stendel had to literally buy a new defence in the summer. Mads Andersen, Bambo Diaby, Toby Sibbick, Aapo Halme, Samuel Radlinger and Bradley Collins all arrived in the summer and clearly, the unsettled nature has seen the Tykes suffer. Radlinger and Collins have alternated in goal this season meaning a lack of stability between the sticks. While Barnsley’s young defence has been caught napping on several occasions this season.

Barnsley are also struggling offensively notching just 16 goals this season. Only Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic have poorer attacks. Goals have been hard to come by this season certainly since they stepped up from League 1. Only Cauley Woodrow has more than two league goals this season. Replacing Kieffer Moore has been extremely tough with the likes of Patrick Schmidt, Mallik Wilks and Connor Chaplin all struggling to fill his very large boots. Struber will be looking to find the best solution to their goal shortage in the short term with Barnsley expected to be active in the January transfer window.

Struber must also find a winning solution with Barnsley winless in 15 league games. Since their dream start to the season against Fulham, Barnsley have taken just six points from 15 games. Times have been difficult with many fans unhappy with the owners of the club. Stendel was idealised and certainly his sacking appeared harsh. Adam Murray stepped in and couldn’t find a win during his spell as caretaker manager. Struber is ready to go and no doubt the terrific Barnsley support will get behind him and the team. Their winless run needs arresting quickly with Barnsley five points off safety.

Struber’s reign kicks off this weekend with a trip to out of form Blackburn. Rovers have won just once in their last eight games and Barnsley will fancy, they can sneak a first away win and a dream start to Struber’s tenure. Barnsley face an important run of games starting against Blackburn. They then travel to Middlesbrough in a vital game at the bottom. Struber’s first home game is a Yorkshire derby with Hull. Games with Cardiff, Reading, QPR, Millwall and West Brom follow. Struber needs a good start to instil belief in the players and the fans. They have the tools to survive but they need a win to arrest their real slump.

The likeable Struber is ready to take English football by storm and steer Barnsley to safety. A tough task but he will believe he can keep the Tykes in the Championship. The Tykes will be ready to go and certainly, Struber will ensure his team perform to the best of their ability.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Leganes and Celta Vigo Hoping A Changing Of The Guard Can Save Their Seasons


It’s been a hugely disappointing season for Celta Vigo and Leganes who are struggling in the La Liga relegation zone. Leganes are rock bottom with just six points from their thirteen league games. Celta Vigo has nine points from their thirteen league games and both teams need to ignite their seasons.

Both clubs have made a managerial change in the last week. Javier Aguirre is the new man at Leganes, and he is tasked with ensuring safety. While Oscar Garcia is in at Celta Vigo. He is tasked with igniting their disappointing season. Both new men have taken charge of one game in their short spell in charge of their new teams. Leganes got an excellent point at high flying Real Sociedad while Celta Vigo lost to Barcelona at the Nou Camp.  Leganes are seven points off safety while Celta Vigo is four points off safety. Both teams desperately need a win to kick start their season but both new managers have plenty of things to sort out.

The experienced Javier Aguirre is back in La Liga after five years away. Since leaving Espanyol in 2014, the calm, likeable Mexican has managed Japan and Egypt. He faces a huge task at Leganes with the club desperate to keep their status in La Liga. Los Pepineros has severe issues both in attack and defensively. Leganes have the joint-worst attack along with their fellow strugglers in the relegation zone notching just seven league goals. Martin Braithwaite has three of those and the Danish international has been desperately trying to fire Leganes to vital wins. While they weren’t the most prolific under Mauricio Pellegrino, Leganes were very good defensively, but their steel defence has disappeared this season. Only Espanyol and Real Betis have conceded more goals than Los Pepineros this season and that must change if Aguirre’s team are going to get results. Meanwhile, fortress Butarque has lost its edge this season with many teams walking away with points. Only Mallorca have left Butarque with nothing this season and that must change with Leganes’ home form crucial to their chances of survival. They welcome Barcelona next to Butarque hoping to secure back to back home wins against the Catalan giants and that really would ignite belief in the players and the fans.

The well-travelled Oscar Garcia makes a return to La Liga. Celta Vigo will be his first managerial position in Spain having overseen Barcelona’s youth side for two years between 2010 and 2012.  Garcia has managed in Israel, England and France during the seven years he has been away from his home nation. However, he inherits a huge task of getting Celta Vigo out of trouble. Their season has been hugely disappointing despite the return of past heroes Santi Mina and Denis Suarez. Both have struggled as has as club legend Iago Aspas. Wins have dried up and confidence is low. Fran Escriba paid the price for a poor start having rescued them last season. His defensive style was not impressing the fans and ultimately a narrow loss to Getafe ended his reign. Oscar Garcia must get Celta firing and tighten a rocky defensive ship. Celta Vigo has the joint-worst attack notching a poultry seven goals. Aspas has just two of those goals and he is struggling to fire his beloved Celta to victories. Their defence has faired no better with Celta conceding 19 goals. Only Leganes, Espanyol, Real Betis and Eibar have conceded more goals this season. Oscar Garcia is renowned for having a rock-solid defence and he will work on that straight away. Confidence is at an all-time low with Celta Vigo losing their last five league games and notching just five points from their last nine games.  Their away form is abysmal collecting just two points on their travels and that must improve if Celta are to turn their season around. Oscar Garcia is ready to go but faces a difficult next game which is a trip to the Ceramica to face Villarreal.

Two struggling teams hoping a change of manager can turn their season around. Both Javier Aguirre and Oscar Garcia face huge tasks but one they will both relish as both Celta Vigo and Leganes fight for survival at the bottom of La Liga.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Niko Kovac Sacked At Bayern: Who Could Replace Him?


Bayern Munich announced the sacking of Niko Kovac on Sunday following their heaviest Bundesliga loss in a decade. However, the result was the straw that broke the camel’s back with Bayern Munich struggling for much of this season. Robert Lewandowski has been the man firing Bayern Munich to victories and without him, their situation certainly would be a lot worse. The question now is who will replace Kovac in the Bayern hot seat.

The former Croatian international lasted just 16 months in the role having been touted as the long-term manager to get Bayern Munich back on top of Europe. Despite winning the league and cup double in his only season in charge, Bayern Munich have flattered to deceive for much of this campaign. The Bavarians lie in 4th place four points behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach after a run of one win in their last four league games.  Judging by Bayern Munich’s high standards, that is simply unacceptable and whoever comes in knows a big task lies ahead.
So, who could replace Kovac? Well, Max Allegri and Jose Mourinho are the two early front runners. Allegri is a free agent having left Juventus at the end of last season. His style of play may not necessarily suit the Bavarians but, the Italian is a serial winner having won the league title in every season he oversaw Juventus. Could the Bavarians tempt Mourinho to Germany? It is very possible with Mourinho yet to test his managerial skills in Germany and Bayern Munich could the perfect opportunity for him. He is available having been out of work since leaving Manchester United in December 2018. However, Mourinho has confirmed his desire to manage in England once again meaning he is unlikely to fancy taking over the German giants.

Bayern Munich may well pursue managers in jobs. Erik Ten Hag, Thomas Tuchel and Julen Naglesmann have all been linked with the job and are all highly thought off by the Bayern hierarchy. Ajax manager Ten Hag has worked wonders at the Dutch giants so its no surprise his stock is rising. He has developed the likes of Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs De Ligt and Donny Van De Beek into world-class players. Taking Ajax into the Champions League semi-finals last season also impressed much of Europe. However, both Ajax and Ten Hag have confirmed his departure would not be until the end of the season should there be any interested parties. It is a similar situation for Thomas Tuchel at PSG. Tuchel has done very well so far in Paris but his future will be decided at the end of the season with PSG desperate for Champions League glory. Another early exit from the competition could decide if Tuchel keeps his job. Bayern are thought to admire the German having done well at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund in the past. Despite only taking over RB Leipzig in June, Julen Naglesmann is interesting Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga’s youngest ever manager has impressed ever since he took over Hoffenheim. He secured them back to back top-four finishes. His excellent work has continued at RB Leipzig but could interest from Bayern tempt him out? RB Leipzig will be reluctant to let him leave for a title rival especially since he has only been in the job five months.

Whoever takes over Bayern Munich will relish the opportunity to work with their very talented but underperforming squad. Hansi Flick is in caretaker charge of Bayern Munich’s next two games which are Olympiakos in the Champions League and Borussia Dortmund in the Der Klassiker. Two wins could throw Flick into contention for the job. However, Bayern need to quickly make a decision because their season is slowly derailing and the pressure will be on to make the right call.