THE self-declared goals of England’s newest club managers as they both faced the glare of the media on Thursday afternoon could not have been more contrasting.
New Tottenham Hotspur chief Jose Mourinho arrived at his official unveiling complete with a 12-carat smile and quotes of pure gold as he skilfully ensured that the nation’s scribes were eating out of his hand again in double-quick time.
For Spurs fans, regardless of the chatter about Mourinho’s playing style, there is surely the realisation they have landed a serial trophy winner. The modus operandi of the Portuguese has always been silverware.
By comparison, the oratory gifts of Barnsley head coach Gerhard Struber did not extend to him working the room at his own introduction to the media. His aims are far more prosaic as well.
No soundbytes maybe, but an earnestness in his analysis that he can achieve his own be-all and end-all mission of Championship survival in what amounts to a 30-game season, starting at Blackburn Rovers tomorrow.
What Mourinho and Struber do share in common is a need to secure some morale-boosting wins fast. It is results over style every day of the week. Certainly this winter and probably beyond.
Struber takes over a side who have not won in their past 16 matches in all competitions and are bottom of the Championship. He says he likes a challenge – a word he used on several occasions. It is just as well.
The 42-year-old, who left his role towards the top echelons of the Austrian Bundesliga with Wolfsberger AC earlier this week, said: “It is not normal to get the chance to work in England and it is a big challenge.
“We have a big goal to stay in this league.
“I come from a very good team in Austria and we had big success and good situations in the Europa League against Borussia Monchengladbach and Roma, but I like to come out of my comfort zone and take new challenges.
“My dream is to always work in England. It is the mother of football.
“It is not a simple task to work and stay in the league. It is a big challenge, but I love it. It is a very big motivation.”
The talk regarding Struber’s playing style has centred on fast-paced, vertical football and ‘gegenpressing’, but as the old saying goes, a house is only as strong as its foundations.
Essentially that means sorting out Barnsley’s lamentable defensive statistics, first and foremost, with a total of 33 concessions in 16 matches – just six shy of the club’s tally for the entirety of last season in League One – being damning.
Addressing that will be an obvious priority in the January transfer market, with supporters screaming out for some experienced recruits in the new year to save Barnsley’s season.
For Struber, whose four defenders who started his final Europa League match in charge of Wolfsberger earlier this month were aged 28, 29, 35 and 31 respectively, it is a case of dealing with the here and now and trying to find some quick fixes.
“We know we have a young team, which we can make better in tactical situations, especially in defence. We have a big faith we will stay in this league,” he added. “I have watched many games. The team is okay, but there are individual mistakes. I know what I must do to get rid of the mistakes.
“I see a big heart in this team, I am convinced we will change the results and performances.”
On bringing in some back-four experience in January, Struber, whose reign begins at Ewood Park tomorrow, continued: “Now it is not the topic, but to play on Saturday and give a top performance. This is my focus and the team’s. We will speak about new players in the next January window.
“The experience is a big advantage in the Championship or in professional football, but I am still convinced we can grow and develop these players to have better results and situations.”
Struber may be embarking on his first coaching role outside of his native Austria, but he has come in with his eyes wide open.
Barnsley made overtures for him earlier this autumn, yet Struber also revealed that his name has been on the Oakwell radar for much longer than that.
The Austrian, who was flanked by assistants Matt Rose and Max Senft at his official unveiling, added: “I had long contact with Barnsley. We had the first contact two years (ago).
“They have been calling me for three or four weeks and we spoke a lot about the situation and this club and the problems now. I know the situation here.”