Fresh from becoming Barnsley FC's third signing of the January transfer window, Michael Sollbauer spoke exclusively about his decision to join the Reds.
After a decade of service to Wolfsberger AC, latest signing for the Reds, Michael Sollbauer says he was excited at the prospect of a ‘big’ move to England.
The 29-year-old Austrian joined compatriot and former coach Gerhard Struber at Oakwell when putting pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year deal this week.
“This is a big decision and a big step for me, to come to Barnsley.” Sollbauer explained.
“It’s the first time in my football career that I made a transfer like this, I have been at Wolfsberger for such a long time and this wasn’t an easy move for me but it felt right and I’m happy to be here.
“I am very happy to be a part of this new team for me and I’m here to have success.”
Captain of his former club under Struber’s guidance, Sollbauer is the experienced player that the Reds boss has craved, and Sollbauer believes their intimate working relationship can only be a positive as Barnsley look to kick on and sail to safety this season in a tough first campaign back in the second tier.
“He is a trainer who knows me,” he told us. “He knows my game and what I can bring to the team, out there on the grass and away from games also. I am a leader, I have played over 300 games of professional football.
“Having that relationship with the coach is good for both parties. I understand what he expects from myself and from the team. We all need to work together and then we achieve our goals.”
It’s not only the Head Coach who Michael recognised upon arriving on Grove Street.
The central defender played alongside or against a number of Reds players in his native Austria and whilst he’s keen to forge relationships with all of the squad at Oakwell, he admits the presence of so many familiar faces will only help him settle into life in Barnsley.
“It’s much easier to make the transition knowing the coach and some of the team. I played with Marcel Ritzmaier for two seasons, I know Sami Radlinger from the Austrian U21 team and I’ve played against Pipo Schmidt also.
“Then there’s Max Senft who was my coach also in Wolfsberger.
“I’m an open man, I’m happy to be seeing all of the team and it’s exciting because it’s a new challenge for me. But it has to be helpful if there are familiar faces who can help you if necessary.”
Back-to-back defeats have dealt the Reds a blow in their attempts to climb out of trouble.
Sollbauer says that he’s seen it all before and is confident that with good focus and everyone on the same page, Championship survival is attainable and he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t think he could help Barnsley in their quest to finish clear of trouble.
“I know I’m coming into a tough situation.” Michael stated. “I’m an experienced player, I’ve seen a lot, I was captain for many years. So I know what this is like, I’ve been there before.
“The most important thing is to be clear in the head.
“It’s a big challenge, but I’ve spoken to Gerhard, I speak with the players and people in the club and I know it’s not impossible.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe. I believe in this team, the staff and the club.
"Barnsley have shown great faith and trust in me - I intend to repay it.”