Watford have made an approach for one current Championship boss who reportedly wants the job of managing the newly relegated side next season.
The Hornets’ Premier League fate was decided last Sunday with Hayden Mullins losing both games in charge as caretaker, having lost 4-0 to Man City in his first game and 3-2 to Arsenal after that.
It sealed their return to the second tier of English football for the first time since the 2014/15 season. They join Norwich City and AFC Bournemouth in going down.
New for @TheAthleticUK
Vladimir Ivic and Gerhard Struber both contenders for vacant #WatfordFC head coach job.
Full exclusive details. https://t.co/IzKk7ChhWB
— Adam Leventhal (@AdamLeventhal) July 30, 2020
Watford had been lining up one particular EFL manager as a potential successor to recently sacked Nigel Pearson.
That man was Sabri Lamouchi of Nottingham Forest, however as of the 30th of July, the Reds have confirmed that he remains committed to the club and will not be leaving.
Now Watford have their eyes on Barnsley’s Gerhard Struber, who guided his side to Championship safety on the final day of the season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv and PAOK manager Vladimir Ivic is also a contending over the vacant head coach role, The Athletic understands.
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The report adds that Struber’s contract at the Tykes includes a release clause worth around £1-2 million, which Watford would have to pay if they wanted to bring him in.
The 43-year-old has also had other offers — one from an unnamed club in the Championship and two in the Netherlands’ Eredivisie — which are also being considered at the moment, along with the option of staying at Oakwell and building on what he started.
Fans were left annoyed when Daniel Stendel got the boot, despite being bottom of the Championship in their first season back, so incoming manager Struber, who is a passionate coach who likes to play nice attacking football, had big boots to fill.
The 42-year-old previously guided Austrian club Wolfsberger AC to a third-place finish in his home country’s top tier last term, qualifying for the Europa League.
Wolsfberger and Barnsley are the only two club’s he’s managed professionally in his two year career.
His current career win percentage sits at 43.2%. Best record: Wolfsberger AC (52.4%). Worst record: (34.8%).
Chief executive Dane Murphy remains confident Gerhard Struber will return to club after their heroic survival.
💬 Read what Dane Murphy had to say following the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) July 27, 2020
On Struber, contracted until June 2022, Barnsley chief executive officer Dane Murphy told The Yorkshire Post: “Gerhard is on a multi-year contract and is the leader of our group. Our players rallied behind him and our staff are extremely close knit.
“He is obviously going to gain some traction with the way we played towards the end of the year and how he was able to help and develop our young players and never once complaining and continuing to believe.
“Of course, he is going to garner a ton of interest. But he is our manager and is on a multi-year contract and we look forward to what he can do with this group next year in the Championship.
“The guy came to a new country and it (English) was not his first language. In his first term in English football, he never once complained. The pandemic came and he rarely saw his family – he has two young kids.
“The fact that he was able to help our team persevere to stay in the Championship means he more than deserves a break for time to reflect and think. But we cannot wait to have him (back).”
Barnsley may be breathing a sigh of relieve at surviving the drop, but Wigan’s appeal against their 12-point deduction could change everything.
Murphy added: “The final table states we are a Championship club. I do not want to go into too much detail about an ongoing legal claim.
“But we are in a position where we stayed up and are preparing ourselves as a Championship club. We have every confidence on September 12 that we will be competing in the division.”
On what staying up means from a financial perspective, Murphy continued: “It obviously has a serious impact on our financial outlook. Last time when we went down, it was between six and seven million in revenue that we lost.
“We are not out of the depths yet in terms of our finances because of Covid-19, but staying in the Championship goes a long way. The fact we were able to achieve this and keep the club above water in moving forward in the Championship is a testament to everyone.
“July was our trickiest month (financially), so staying in the Championship helps. The support of our fans in our community – in times when no-one knew what was next and what would be happening in their own personal lives – is tremendous.
“It is not a part of why we are in a better situation we are in July, but a massive part – because of the support of our fans and community around us.
“It was difficult at times because we had to put people on furlough and in positions which would have changed their normal daily life. I believe the club is firmly in the position where our staffing levels will remain the same. We will be able to maintain ourselves as a working group.”
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Manager Gerhard Struber says keeping Barnsley in the Championship is the “biggest job” he has done in football.
“There’s been so much togetherness and belief in the past few weeks,” he said.
“These boys have gone beyond their personal limits time and time again and deserve to stay up.”
“In my football life, it’s the biggest job I’ve done, I’m so proud of my boys,” Struber told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“We never gave up in every game and in every moment and I think everyone understands now that what’s been said in the last few weeks hasn’t just been words.
“I said when the season restarted, we would need absolutely everyone at the club behind us and I’ve had so many messages from supporters in recent weeks. I’m just so pleased we could reward them.
“We’re a good team and we’ve shown that in our performances. We came up against a very good (Brentford) side and we didn’t allow them time on the ball, our pressing was superb.
“In the second half, we gave ourselves a few more problems and we had a bit of luck, but we earned that.”