Kevin Thelwell on Gerard Struber: “My understanding is that he’s very happy here. We’re very happy with him.”
By Michael Lewis
As Red Bulls sporting director Kevin Thelwell said on Tuesday, “good clubs want good people,” so it shouldn’t be surprising that at least one team reportedly has expressed interest in his head coach, Gerard Struber.
Werder Bremen, which was demoted to the second tier of German soccer from the Bundesliga earlier this year, is searching for a new coach and Struber reportedly on the list of possible successors. Bremen recently sacked Markus Anfang, who reportedly falsified his COVID-19 vaccination card.
Given what Struber accomplished during the stretch run of the MLS regular season, in which the Red Bulls went from a non-playoff contender to a seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference, he could be a “hot coach” out there. The Red Bulls were eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs by the second-seeded Philadelphia Union on a 123rd-minute goal, 1-0.
Thelwell said that the team was “very happy” with Struber and wanted him back for the 2022 season, although the wildcard was interest from other clubs.
“We’ve been very happy with Gerhard and the coaching team,” Thelwell said during a media Zoom call on Tuesday morning, adding “that the climatization process was very difficult.”
Here is a link to Werder Bremen’s interest to Struber:
Thelwell noted that the team had but 2 1/2 games of preseason preparation, “which was just no preparation at all. So he found himself coming into an into a new league into a new situation into the middle of the pandemic.
“I’ve been able to deal with all these situations but little by little we worked very well together, worked very, very hard. … We’re learning about the group and learning about the space. If I signpost you to the last 13-14 games, I think we ended up with a 1.92 points per game average, which in anybody’s perspective should be very, very good form. So it’s clear that we’ve got a clear, very good identity. It’s clear that there’s still some work to do. But I think he’s proven to be a very, very good head coach.”
But as the MLS enters its silly season with players transfer rumors and coaches getting fired in the soccer universe, stuff happens.
“Now what happens out there in the ether is that good clubs want good people,” Thelwell said. “So I’m not surprised that he’s attracted attention to the work that he’s done. But my understanding is that he’s very happy here. We’re very happy with him. We’re hopefully on the same page in terms of building something, building strong strategy. I’m very much looking forward to next year and hoping to continue some of that form that we’ve had at the end of this season.
Thelwell, who has been around the block and then some in the soccer/football business, realized life can throw a curve ball or two at anyone.
“Never say never, of course,” he said, because we all know what soccer is like.”