Barnsley FC Head Coach, Gerhard Struber is targeting 'the next step' for his Reds side this season.
Speaking with the press ahead of the 20/21 Sky Bet Championship season opener against Luton Town this coming Saturday, Reds boss Gerhard Struber expressed his confidence in getting off to a good start.
But after a week of incoming and outgoing transfers at Oakwell, the Austrian first gave his thoughts on the departure of academy product Jacob Brown, who left for Stoke City on Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re in a very good situation, everyone is ready and on board for our first game against Luton." Struber began.
“But yes, Jacob Brown was a big player with his powerful brand of football and helped us last season. But it’s football and when our players develop, sometimes they quickly outgrow us.
“We are confident we have enough in our squad right now, to move forward, and we’ll have a few more players coming in also. We added two this week, so we will see. But it is my responsibility to find the right players.
“We are a smaller club at the level, with a small budget and it’s how we operate. This isn’t a surprise to anyone, there’s no stress here, we are in a good way and confident moving forward, confident of making more good decisions as a club in the next weeks.”
This week's additions, in the shape of Isaac Christie-Davies and Michal Helik have enthused the Reds' boss.
22-year-old Christie-Davies is a dynamic central midfielder who was previously with Liverpool and Chelsea, whilst defender Helik is fresh off cup success with Cracovia and put pen to paper on a three-year deal yesterday evening.
“I think Isaac is a player with big talent. He has very good technical skills and qualities.
“He will need time to get in shape, he had injury issues in the summer. Every player needs to learn my style too, so it’s about patience.
“I am very happy to get Isaac into the club and he’ll be a big player for us. He will offer us something new in midfield.
“Michal is big, he's powerful and he is ready to go.
"He’s in a good way physically and can plug straight into my style. A really experienced defender at a good age.
"I have a very good feeling about Helik.”
Perennially tipped to struggle at this level, Barnsley aren't being seen as pushovers this time around, with plenty of pundits and bookmakers alike predicting more pleasant campaigns for the Reds.
This isn't lost on Struber who admits that it is time to push on, and climb the table in 20/21.
“We have big self-confidence in the club right now." Gerhard effused.
“Our players who had to learn, they grew up last season. So our experience is greater for all of our time together last year.
“We aren’t dreamers.
“But we are not a relegation side and our eyes will be on greater goals this season. We have to take the next step as a a team and a club.
“If we are together, if we have the right energy in my style, it is then possible to achieve much bigger goals.
“Last season we learn, this season I am 100% convinced we are a very good Championship team. We believe in ourselves.”
The new campaign is set to kick off how the last season ended, with no supporters inside stadiums.
The behind-closed-doors element is suggested to have helped the Reds last term, but Gerhard is clear that football needs fans back at matches as soon as possible.
“I hope our supporters can come back to our home quickly, back to Oakwell.
“This is hopefully in the next month or so, where we can have their emotional backing in the stands.
“Last season was unbelievable how we achieved our goal, but we missed our fans. They supported us though, side-by-side from home, in the circumstances.
“Football needs its fans, we need our fans with us. We hope that isn’t far away.”
On Saturday, an old adversary is first up on Grove Street.
The Reds welcome the Hatters to Oakwell in a 3pm kick-off and Struber accepts that it won't be a simple challenge for his side if they are to get off to the ideal start in this season's Sky Bet Championship.
“Luton showed in the final nine games of last season that they are a top team when they are together, similar to us.
“They work well in transitions, but they are our opponents and we are confident of getting a good result to start our new season.
“It’s a big, long season. 46 games in the league. We must be prepared to give everything.
“On Saturday I am excited and looking forward to start at Oakwell.”