WHEN Daniel Stendel conducted his research on Barnsley ahead of landing the head coaching role it was always likely to include a few calls to a former team-mate now resident in Yorkshire.
The person concerned is Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner; the pair were playing colleagues during the late Nineties at North Rhine-Westphalian minnows FC Gutersloh.
It goes without saying that if Stendel can achieve half of the success of his compatriot – also a journeyman striker in his playing days before turning to coaching – at the other side of the Emley Moor mast to Huddersfield then the selection by the Reds’ hierarchy will prove wise and visionary.
After the Wagner revolution at Huddersfield Town, a similarly innovative Stendel uprising – based on the same gegenpressing, high-intensity footballing ethos – is the hope of those in the corridors of power at Oakwell.
Reds chief executive Gauthier Ganaye told The Yorkshire Post: “Daniel is a good friend of David Wagner and played with him. He talked with him a bit before committing to coming here.
“They know each other really well and Daniel has done research on the UK and also knows Per Mertesacker really well.
“Obviously he (Wagner) has had lots of success and you hope it will be the same for us.
“But it is going to be different for us as what they (Huddersfield) have done with their academy is not the way we want to go. The first step for us was to identify the way we want to play and we want this to be in the academy as well.
“It will take time to implement that in the academy and Daniel is a good person to do that because he has been youth coach at Hanover and this is a continuation. This is what we want to do, but we will not do that in two weeks.
“Daniel said that the best way to implement that is for the first team to be successful. I think that is very intelligent for him to say that. If the first team is not successful don’t expect the academy to be.”
For Barnsley to appoint another continental head coach following José Morais’s brief and inauspicious stint in charge represents another bold left-field selection.
Many viewed the appointment of a tried and trusted lower-league operator as the safer option, but the Reds saw things differently and believe there is an inherent logic to their decision.
After settling on a footballing style that they want to permeate throughout the club’s age-group sides, an indentikit head coach who espoused those values was quickly sought, with Stendel soon shortlisted and due diligence promptly carried out.
Nationality was never an issue; getting the right man to establish that footballing identity most definitely was.
“There is nothing to prove. He has a very clear vision of how he wants to play and it will be very clear for the players in terms of what he is asking them to do,” Ganaye added.
“Obviously Daniel needs to learn about the opposition (teams), but the most important thing is to focus on ourselves and the way we believe before we focus on the opposition. I do not think it is a problem.
“He had good results and statistics with the first team at Hanover and played a very attacking style of football, with high intensity and high pressing with quick counter-attacking, which was quite entertaining, and that is why we identified him.
“The first step in a thinking process was to identify a style of play which was successful and then narrow it down to a potential candidate. For us, the fact that he is German or English and whether he had coached in League One or not was not that important. We do not think it will be a problem. The feeling with him has been very good.
“We identified his style of play and then started with the recruitment department to analyse some games with this style of play. We identified Daniel really early as a potential candidate and then made contact and met a few times and got to know each other and his staff.”
A strong chemistry between Stendel and the Reds’ hierarchy, allied to shared football philosophies, also played its part in the decision to appoint the 44-year-old, viewed as a serious professional coach with his high pressing style putting much emphasis on fitness, energy and organisation.
What is also clear is that while some players will fit into his way of playing others will not. It is a system where ‘passengers’ cannot be carried.
On the credo of Stendel, who will officially begin his new role on July 1, Ganaye commented: “He is assessing the team on videos as at the moment as he cannot do that physically (yet).
“It is counter-pressing football and if one person is not able to do it, it is useless. We will follow his advice (on players) and work on that with him,
“He is straightforward and really enthusiastic and energetic and he communicates his energy to others.
“When you meet him he is someone who, after a few seconds, you feel as if you can trust.”