DANIEL STENDEL is barely a month into his head coaching role at Barnsley, but Oakwell is already a place that he knows exceedingly well.
Having officially started work in his first appointment in English football back on July 1, the German has had precious little time to pause for breath.
Navigating his first pre-season schedule at Barnsley represents the tip of the iceberg in some respects with the 44-year-old also assigned with nailing down a fresh way of playing with his players and quickly building working relationships at the same time.
Understandably the training ground behind the North Stand at Oakwell has been a hive of activity.
Yet long after the players have departed for home the graft has continued for Stendel, who has had scant time to enjoy the late afternoon and early-evening sun.
Broadening his knowledge of League One by studying countless DVDs of opponents has occupied numerous hours with his staff in their nearby offices.
Factor in other things such as regular meetings with club staff and Oakwell has already become a bit of a home from home for the diligent German, who has revealed that he has also spoken with Sheffield Wednesday head coach Jos Luhukay and ex-Leeds United chief Thomas Christiansen – who he knows from German football – for a few tips about English management.
Given his workload it is perhaps easy to understand why Stendel’s command of English remains a work in progress.
With plenty on his plate, spending many hours improving his grasp of the language is time that he has not been afforded.
But what has not been lost in translation is the undeniable feeling that Stendel is a grafter, something that will sit well in these parts.
Stendel, speaking to the press at Oakwell yesterday morning, flanked by first-team coach Christopher Stern, who acted as an interpreter, said: “Most of the time I am at Oakwell and then to sleep in the apartment. It is a normal day.
“I am getting to know League One better day-in, day-out through watching pre-match analysis. It is a great experience for my first job in a foreign country and I am looking forward to experiencing the English style of football.
“I have also spoken to Thomas Christiansen and Jos Luhukay about English football. They said that during the regular season, you won’t have that much time to make any changes, so you have to work on it in pre-season.
“I am positive about the atmosphere, the town and club. The players are looking forward to a new style of play. We have taken a huge step from the first day of pre-season to now.”
Stendel may readily profess to not knowing too much about the town where he is employed just yet, but no one can say that he has been short of a warm welcome already from Barnsley folk.
During the World Cup Stendel and his staff were spotted in a pub watching Germany, with a number of observant Reds fans quickly declaring their support for Joachim Loew’s side after realising that the club’s coaching team were in the vicinity.
It represented a nice touch, with Stendel also confident that his gegenpressing style of high-intensity football – so popular in his homeland – will win support in this quarter of South Yorkshire.
Stendel, who will step out as Barnsley head coach for the first time in a competitive fixture at home to Oxford United tomorrow afternoon, said: “I did not plan to come to England to work as a head coach here, but I am happy that I made the decision because my first impressions are pretty positive. I did not expect it to be that much different to German football. The physical and direct play and high intensity fits to my style of football and personality.
“The people in the town and club have also welcomed me very much. It is nice to see. The only issue I have is with the food, which I like because breakfast is different in Germany.
“I am looking forward to the first match and we will try from the first minute to get the supporters on our side. We can work as a unit together throughout the whole season.”
Happy with the players at his disposal, Stendel has also stressed that he is not planning to tap into the German market to bring in new recruits, with his belief being that those already in his squad are more than capable of successfully implementing his own footballing philosophy.
Stendel, who confirmed that goalkeeper Adam Davies will captain the Reds tomorrow, added: “If the opportunity is there you would not say no to German players. But it is about getting to know the squad and starting work with them. I am satisfied with the quality, so there is no huge need to sign German players.
“We do have a young squad with a lot of power, especially for our style of play. In transition we have a lot of players with great pace and we will aim to use that strength, power and pace, which will be our strength.”