Markus Schopp happy to mix things up as he plots new Barnsley era

There was one big difference between Markus Schopp’s first press conference as Barnsley manager and Valerien Ismael’s nine months earlier.

Markus Schopp, Barnsley manager. Picture: Barnsley FC
Markus Schopp, Barnsley manager. Picture: Barnsley FC

Ismael instantly made it abundantly clear he was going to impose his style on the Reds. Predecessor Gerhard Struber had been a 3-5-2 man, but under Ismael it was 3-4-3 and “vertical football” that took Barnsley to new heights, nearly dizzying ones.

The luxuries of a pre-season and a transfer window give Schopp more thinking time and he plans to find his way.

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The big clues were the two words he used the most in his smooth English. If you had been playing Schopp bingo, you would have wanted “awesome” and “intensity” on your card.

As the third consecutive Barnsley manager plucked from Austria’s Bundesliga, you might have thought the 47-year-old was a continuity candidate and to a degree he is, but Struber did not play like Ismael and now Schopp will come up with a third interpretation of how to make his two buzzwords flesh. Expect more of the pressing but a bit more build up.

“It’s always (down to) what happened in recent years, to bring a certain style on the pitch which is a good mix of all of that,” says Schopp, who faced Struber and Ismael as TSV Hartberg coach.

“It was very intense against the ball with Ismael, also with Struber. It was very direct with Ismael in possession, very fast finishing, it was a bit more possession with Struber so it’s up to us and the players to find the right way that fits us.

“I know last season was really, really good but for me it’s the aim to do it better.

“We have to figure out what style and in which formation probably we’re going to start with.

“A couple of guys had an awesome season so they want to make the next step. I want to help them. I want to develop the team to play in a style to be as good as possible in this league.”

Whatever changes, the on-field intensity that was Ismael’s hallmark seems unlikely to relent.

“I want to have a team that competes,” says Schopp. “I want us to be very ambitious, very aggressive, very intense all week long and a team who knows how to handle the ball. I want to see a team that does everything to win. It’s all about the attitude.”

Asked about Ismael’s style, Schopp says: “The most important was it was very successful. He did a great job here.

“We can’t kill everything that happened last season so it’s up to us to find some additions. We want to keep a certain intensity, especially against the ball, but we also want to create something with the ball.”

One thing that might be different is the manager’s demeanour. Ismael was very friendly but his huge frame and fierce demeanour exuded an authority you would not want to push. Players who did not meet his high standards were quickly bundled out with rebukes for their attitudes.

Schopp feels more good cop.

“It’s one thing to get a clue about the players when you are watching through the media but it’s totally different when you get in touch with them,” he explains.

“The first couple of weeks are intense getting to know each other but we’ve had lots of discussions.

“I’ve always been a coach who tries to get as close as possible but we’re in a business where we have to perform. Everybody’s different and we want to be authentic.”

English football has changed a lot in the Premier League era but the terrace energy players can plug into remains important, as England have just demonstrated.

“It’s so much English style but there is Spanish, German, South American (influences) that makes the English league so interesting,” argues Schopp.

“It’s up to me to bring a bit of my ideas to it.

“When you watched the European Championship final and how both teams tried to play I think the main part will be to bring this intensity to the pitch with the quality of our players, especially when we are in possession. This makes the mix.”