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The smoke surrounding a Gerhard Struber move to Werder Bremen is sifting in again

Red Bulls head coach linked to German second division giant once again

New York Red Bulls v Philadelphia Union: Playoff - 2021 MLS Cup
Gerhard Struber’s first full season in New York was a mixed bag, but his stock remains high.
Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

This is shaping up to be quite the chaotic, or at least entertaining, offseason for the New York Red Bulls.

All the way over in the sleepier port city on the other side of the Atlantic, a managerial domino game is playing out that could leave Metro in the lurch. Werder Bremen manager Markus Anfang departed recently after some issues involving his COVID-19 vaccination certificate. According to WORUM.ORG (the “biggest unofficial [fan] community”), the top candidate is Ole Werner, who left Holstein Kiel in September. As should be obvious from this story’s inclusion in the Expert Guide, the club is “also in contact with Gerhard Struber.”

According to Sky Sports, Daniel Thioune and Daniel Farke, recently of Hamburg and Norwich, respectively, are in the running. There is an “unknown candidate” that was “spoken to” on Sunday, which some internet users are suggesting to be Struber. “The requirement profile that we have for a new trainer has not changed [from the summer],” sporting director Frank Baumann told Die Deichtube. “We still have a clear idea of how we want to play football and we still want to rebuild with many young players.”

Does this smoke have any fire? In May, Werder was connected to Struber by Bild, with the German publication claiming him to be a “hot candidate” and “high on the list.” Relegated from the Bundesliga last season, the club is at a disappointing ninth place in the second-tier table but only six points out of first. The right person could reel off a strong run of results and vault back into the top flight.

The appeal of Struber for this position is obvious, as he would uplift spirits and circle the wagons in leaner times. However, the club may need him more than the other way around. Only a single season into his New York tenure, this could be viewed as a lateral move into a very uncertain tomorrow that eschews the building potential for a successful 2022 in Major League Soccer. An upwardly mobile professional is forced to question which would be better for his long-term career prospects, peering into the murky crystal ball that never provides a definitive answer.

Early signs are that Struber is leaning towards staying in the increasingly familiar environs at Harrison and East Hanover. Later on Monday, Hamburg-based Transfermarkt reporter Philip Marquardt stated that according to his sources Struber was “comfortable in New York” and had no interest in jumping ship. In his end-of-season media availability on Tuesday morning, New York sporting executive Kevin Thelwell said he was “not surprised” by the stories linking Struber back to Europe (“good clubs want good people,” he said) but that he was confident in his assessment that Struber is happy with the project they are pursuing with the Red Bulls, especially now that he and his family are settled in New Jersey after the pandemic.

This likely won’t be the last rumor involving Struber, as his name is a popular addition to most roll calls and usual suspect lineups following a sacking. But, if we must play this particular speculation game, consider that the manager is represented by Grass Is Green Thomas Böhm Sports Management GmbH. Four of the company’s players are currently at Werder.

Most importantly of all, shout-out to the lads and lasses on the Worum forums.