Barnsley v Coventry City - Recruitment could be key in keeping Gerhard Struber at Oakwell

SPECULATION linking Barnsley’s star players with rival clubs has been commonplace for too many years to mention.

Barnsley boss Gerhard Struber.

At this moment in time, it is rumours regarding the future of their talented head coach which is occupying the attention and causing the greatest concern.

Like many Reds stars from the past – and some in the here and now – Gerhard Struber is a name which is being increasingly mentioned by other clubs.

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New York Red Bulls are the latest admirers of the 42-year-old. In the summer, it was Watford and several continental clubs who also made covetous glances towards him.

Reports suggesting that Red Bulls have targeted Struber has dominated today’s build-up.

For his part, Struber stressed he was happy at Barnsley at his pre-match press conference.

But it is impossible not to arrive at the conclusion that the Austrian’s mindset will change if the club do not deliver on his increasingly audible request to bring in one or two key players before the deadline – especially in the forward line.

Struber said: “I have a very good time here in Barnsley and am looking forward with a good team. It is a team where we know we need one or other new players and it is also not a big surprise.

“But I am happy here in Barnsley. The ambition is to play in another place (in the table) like last year and I have a squad and players who I have a very good relationship with and we work very closely. I have a good feeling here.

“I hope that our owners help us in this moment with the right investment. It is necessary and everyone knows that. We are in a very good exchange with the owners about that. Looking forward, I have a good feeling we (will) have the right players for the next time.

“I am always in exchange with my owners and we are in exchanges about one or other players and we are hopeful we will make the right decisions in the next few days or weeks hopefully. Then, we are finished with this situation with transfers.”

Barnsley thought they had resolved one piece of the jigsaw in Dinamo Zagreb striker Sandro Kulenovic, who would have provided a much-needed physical option up front – but he had a last-minute change of heart.

The Reds have other ‘exciting’ options according to CEO Dane Murphy.

The Oakwell supremo has also confirmed that there has been tentative interest in some of the club’s own leading stars.

Just as he is confident that the club will sanction a couple of key pieces of incoming business before the deadline, he believes that no more star players will be sold either following the decision to sell Jacob Brown recently.

Murphy said: “I am confident we will improve our group in one of two positions before the deadline. We are also confident we are going to keep our core group together. Jacob was a special circumstance. He wanted to leave. We wanted him to stay and offered him a new contract which doubled his wages. But he was at a point in his career where he felt he’d been at Barnsley a long time and wanted to take the next step.

“We did not want to sour the relationship with a person that put his blood, sweat and tears into the club. He wished to leave and at the end of the day, we did not want to stand in his way and sour the relationship.

“He moved on. With the current group, yes there’s some interest from some clubs but no concrete offers. But we want to keep this group together because by keeping this group together and adding in a few areas, we can have a special season.

“Right now, with any interest that comes in, we are batting it away.”

On Struber, he added: “It is pretty cut and clear that in his contract, there is a buy-out clause. If it is met, it is up to Gerhard whether he’d like to go or not. But Gerhard has made it clear he wants to be coach of Barnsley Football Club this season.

“We want him as our coach. We are focused on the season and all the speculation and things that are brought out in the media and online, each of them wants to become a distraction.

“You just have to steer clear of it and be honest and open about it. Yes, there have been calls and discussions. But there is nothing concrete. He is our head coach.”

Last six games: Barnsley WWLWLL; Coventry WWWLDW.

Referee: J Smith (Lincolnshire).

Last time: Barnsley 2 Coventry 2, March 30, 2019; League One.

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James Mitchinson