|photo by Matt Kremkau
by Anthony J. Merced
It has been a tumultuous few weeks for Red Bull Salzburg who have lost both their Sporting Director and now manager which opened the door for former New York Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber to return to the club. Struber, who started his career with Red Bull at FC Liefering in Austria, returns to the club that helped establish him as a commodity in the managerial merry-go-round.
"Gerhard Struber has learned his trade at the club and in this environment," said future Sporting Director Bernard Seonbuchner. "I am therefore completely convinced that Gerhard, who I know very well as a person, will be an excellent fit for FC Red Bull Salzburg and I am looking forward to working together."
The confluence of events have led to a major upheaval at one of the more consistent clubs in Europe. Salzburg, who entered the season looking for their 11th consecutive Austrian Bundesliga title, had manager Matthias Jaissle at the helm and Christoph Freund behind the scene as Sporting Director. The first domino to fall was Freund as FC Hollywood came calling. Bayern Munich, who recently fired their Sporting Director, plucked the veteran executive for their club.
From there rumblings began to surface about Jaissle looking for a new position. The 35 year-old German manager has been with Salzburg since 2021 after the departure of Jesse Marsch. In 93 total games, the team only suffered nine losses, making him one of the hottest managers on the market. Many saw a move to the Bundesliga as a viable option in the coming years. Little did they know that a move to Saudi Arabia was already in the works.
After already playing their opening game of the season, Salzburg suddenly announced on July 28th that Jaissle was relieved of his coaching duties. It was a shock but the quotes from the club afterwards showed just how much tension boiled underneath the surface.
"Our view is that a coach that is so busy exploring a new job just two days before the start of such an important season should not be in charge when it starts," said Salzburg General Manager Stephan Reiter. "We want to start a new season full of energy and conviction. We need 100% focus from all involved for that."
In steps Struber. The 46 year-old coach was ousted in New York just months earlier after the team faltered early in the campaign. Now, Struber steps into a role where he doesn't have the ability to alter a team that lost one of its best players in Benjamin Sesko and will have little time to adjust seeing as the team has already started in both the league and domestic cup.
Still, Struber enters a team that will be playing in the UEFA Champions League, and is expected to dominate their domestic league once again.
"I am very pleased to have this opportunity which is definitely the highlight of my career in coaching so far," said Struber. "The challenge of working for FC Red Bull Salzburg is a huge one. We therefore need to give our absolute all right from my first training session tomorrow."