Earlier today, Gerhard Struber spoke with barnsleyfc.co.uk and the local media to give an update on his current wellbeing.
The Reds’ Head Coach is back home in Austria with his family, near Salzburg, and is in good health as he continues to follow government guidelines regarding social distancing and self-isolation.
Like the UK, Europe is under lockdown as we all try to do our utmost to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and Gerhard gave us an insight into conditions in his homeland.
“It’s very strict in Austria; social distancing is normal in Europe and the UK,” he said. “In Austria, we have a situation where we need masks when we are shopping for food, and we can only go out for medication or food.
“Many, many companies have closed and many employees are out of work; it’s a very difficult situation for the economy in Austria and it’s a big problem in the next few months – especially after the health crisis; there will be a big economic topic, not just in Austria but the whole world.
“It’s not so easy to help the companies, but our government is spending a lot of money to support them but, in the end, everyone in the country has to pay and I think this is not so easy.
“There’s a big solidarity, right now, between the people, but it’s not only difficult in football – it’s in every situation and I hope in the next few weeks we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, it’s the focus and concentration to stay at home, looking to the advice from the government and NHS – this is the most important thing right now.”
Football, naturally, was one of the main topics for discussion during the interview as supporters across the globe seek resolution over the coming weeks as to whether the current season will reach its conclusion.
The EFL set an original return date of 3 April, which has since been put back to 30 April, but our Head Coach feels that even this might be too soon for any sport to make a return.
“I think it’s not realistic,” admitted Gerhard. “This is my feeling – I’m not an expert – I think we need one month more time. I think maybe we can start in June; I hope so. But April or May is no chance for football; it’s too early. I think the biggest curve is coming in May – this is the media reports in Austria, maybe it’s another situation in the UK, but the reports here say the biggest curve is the middle of May.
“I think, after this situation, we can have more focus on football. Football is a role model and we need to handle this situation – it’s our duty and responsibility, and many people will look at what sport – especially football – do in the next weeks.”
Plenty of suggestions have been bandied around, with options of recommencing at a later date or cancelling altogether the apparent frontrunners.
In an ideal world, Gerhard would prefer for the remaining fixtures to be played, insisting he believes that Barnsley will secure their Sky Bet Championship status should play resume once more.
“I prefer that we can regulate on the field and play the nine games – we have the chance to come out of this zone and I trust my boys and I believe that we can do it,” asserted the Reds’ boss.
“But I think, if the league is cancelled, it’s clear that every result has no value and this is a hard situation for many clubs, but I think when we have a fair play situation it’s normal that the results until now have no value.”
Despite being almost 1,000 miles away from Barnsley, Gerhard is still in daily contact with his coaching staff and the players, who all have their individual training plans while away from the club.
Their activities are monitored digitally in the interest of everyone being in the best possible condition for when they arrive back at Oakwell.
“We stay in contact with WhatsApp and also with Skype conference,” said the Austrian. “I am in contact with my players – they all have a special plan right now to work on the basics like endurance and resilience.
“They will have a good conditioning when they come back and we can start with a high intensity.”