According to English-based writer Jordan Davies, Ralf Rangnick has reached out to Gerhard Struber “in the last few days.” The former Red Bull manager and sporting executive is “keen to have people around him with the same footballing and coaching philosophy.” Manchester United would “have to buy [him] out of his current contract” which expires at the end of 2023.
While some may dismiss the platform hosting this report, Davies has interviewed Struber several times in the past. Further adding credence is a recent interview with Kurier in which Struber revealed “inquiries from Germany, England, and Austria.” The red side of Manchester is certainly located in the second country.
Struber was brought back to the RB Salzburg Academy in 2014 by Rangnick after a brief spell managing semi-pro side SV Kuchl and attempting to work outside of the sport. His former boss was cited as an inspiration in a recent interview with Transfermarkt. “His persuasiveness and tactical understanding shaped me,” said the current New York manager.
The move would make sense for Struber on a temporary basis. He could gain experience and enjoy the trappings of a blue blood club for the next six months before taking a manager position in Europe, when more jobs would be open. Working under Rangnick is something of a learning intensive program which would raise the Austrian’s professional profile more than half of a season in Major League Soccer. His eyes are always pointed upward, with the Premier League being an expressed as a goal, and Old Trafford sits at the top of some cultural mountain waiting to be scaled by the ambitious.
For the Red Bulls, this would be a relative disaster but not one for which the club should be unprepared. If a manager is going to depart, early in the offseason would be preferable to later or in the midst of the summer doldrums. Head of sport Kevin Thelwell has in the past claimed to maintain a regular and rolling list of potential candidates should the need arise.
However, this would still be a significant step back and require some measure of scrambling. The Red Bulls steadily improved over the past year and rebuilt in the image of Struber’s ideals and tactics. Being forced to hire a new manager brings a different style which forces roster turnover in search of the right players. Building a ladder to reach MLS Cup is a difficult task when the ground underneath continues shifting.
For now, this is just a report in the foreign press. The story is worth examining and considering in light of recent comments and Struber’s history of rapid job-hopping. Few would be able to turn down a position at a top Premier League, even an assistant’s role. For fans, the wait may be intolerable, wondering just how high and restrictive the Red Bulls’ buy-out clause happens to be.