Why Barnsley have opted for a tested formula as Markus Schopp arrives at Oakwell

Markus Schopp is the new head coach at Barnsley, after moving from Austrian Bundelsiga. Picture: Barnsley FCMarkus Schopp is the new head coach at Barnsley, after moving from Austrian Bundelsiga. Picture: Barnsley FC
Markus Schopp is the new head coach at Barnsley, after moving from Austrian Bundelsiga. Picture: Barnsley FC
THE conveyor belt of coaching talent from the Austrian Bundesliga to Barnsley is an increasingly prolific one.

For the third successive occasion, the Reds have plumped for a head coach whose previous role was in the top-flight in Austria and Markus Schopp is stepping into some big shoes.

As with his two predecessors in Valerien Ismael and Gerhard Struber, his CV merits serious inspection and marks him out as a high achiever from his time in the ‘other’ Bundesliga.

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The 47-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest managerial prospects in Austria after a taking small village club TSV Hartberg from the second division into the Europa League qualifiers at the start of last term.

His exploits in securing qualification saw Schopp touted as a potential Austrian manager of the season in 2019-20. He lost out to Jesse Marsch. His predecessor Ismael could have easily have been a contender from his time with LASK Linz.

A former Austrian international midfielder of some aplomb, Graz-born Schopp – who represented Sturm Graz, Hamburg, Brescia, Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls in his playing career – had managed Hartberg since 2018.

Schopp has signed a three-year deal after Barnsley agreed to pay a £300,000 release clause.

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Given the success of Ismael and to a lesser extent, Struber, it is no surprise that the Reds hierarchy have utilised their contacts in Austrian football to bring in the new man.

Schopp said: “It’s great to come to a country where football is so big, so traditional, especially in South Yorkshire. There are so many clubs and they are so famous and Barnsley, for me, is one of those teams.

“I will help Barnsley get to where they have been in the last year, I will do everything for that.

“I appreciate this opportunity a lot and I look forward to getting to work, meeting the team and coaching staff and seeing the fans back in the stadium soon.”

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Co-chairman Paul Conway continued: “We are very excited that Markus has signed with Barnsley and will continue the growth of our football club.

“He has had a remarkable career as a player and has been phenomenal growing Hartberg in the Austrian Bundesliga on a small budget.”

There had been some concerns that Schopp’s arrival could be jeopardized by post-Brexit work permit rules which came into force in the UK on January 1.

Managers need to have worked for two consecutive years in what is designated as a top league or in three of the last five, but the Austrian Bundesliga qualifies under the banding criteria.

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Any coaching staff potentially brought in by Schopp must also fulfil criteria regarding management experience at the top level.

Schopp will be grateful for the next month or so to get to know his players, likely to be minus captain Alex Mowatt, set for pastures new with a number of clubs being interested.

Behind the scenes, there is also uncertainty with Dane Murphy expected to depart to Nottingham Forest.

As for the Schopp style, it is based around playing from the back – a potential departure from the Ismael era – and fast counter-attacks. a rewind to the ethos of Struber perhaps.

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But whereas Struber and Ismael prefered three central defenders, Schopp is said to be more orientated towards four defenders and a central striker.

The first competitive viewing of how Schopp’s side sets up will be a fascinating one.

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