After failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, Austria is making a change at the top. In advance of Wednesday’s friendly against Scotland, Franco Foda announced that he is stepping down from the manager position. Hired in January of 2018, he took “full responsibility” for the “unhappy ending” to his tenure.
Österreichischer Fußball-Bund (Austrian Football Association) has already begun searching through candidates, with local media compiling speculative lists. A common inclusion is Gerhard Struber. The New York Red Bulls manager has been connected with the role over the past year, but he shied away from expressing anything beyond pride for his country and support for Foda.
With the job officially open, Austria will have to look elsewhere. “I’m always honored to be mentioned as a candidate for this interesting position,” Struber told local media. “But at the moment it’s not an option for me. I have a great job here in New York and I want to continue working with a team on a daily basis and constantly developing it... To be responsible for choosing your country is a huge honor.”
While open to the “extremely interesting” job in the future, Struber would be a curious choice for a national team. He is a manager that thrives when working with players, expressing a preference for “day-to-day work on the training pitch.” Instead of constructing a machine, the international game is more akin to attempting to compile pieces from multiple different puzzles into a coherent mosaic. An ambitious professional with distinct tactics and personnel desires would be forced to tone down the unique accouterments in order to grind out results, which could be viewed as unappealing and a waste of ability.
Despite recent reported pursuit by Werder Bremen, Manchester United, and a variety of roles across Europe, Struber has remained with the Red Bulls and put forth some intriguing results to start the season. His current contract lasts through December of 2023. While another potential suitor has been turned down in public fashion, the next club or country could always be the right opportunity.