The Reds have one of the youngest squads in England after mainly signing under 25s but, with them bottom of the Championship, the head coach wants to recruit older players next month. Struber told the Chronicle: “For our goal to stay in the league, we need experience. Our big challenge in the next weeks is to bring experience into the team, and also quality. This is what we can do. With the right players in January, we have a very, very good chance to stay in this league.”
Struber added: “In this difficult situation, we need a top mentality and no egos in the team. We have now the right characters in the team and, in the next transfer window when we buy or loan players, the character is also important. If we can get one, two or three players in January, that can help us stay in the league.”
Barnsley will hope to avoid equalling their worst ever first half of a 46-game season tomorrow. The last-placed Reds are currently on 16 points from 22 matches and defeat at Millwall would leave them level with the 2013/14 side which had 16 points at the midway stage and was relegated to League One. The only lower points tally was 14 in the 1997/98 Premiership campaign in which they played 38 games. Barnsley are due to visit the in-form London club tomorrow before hosting Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion on Thursday for a Boxing Day fixture.
Struber’s side won 5-3 over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday to cut the gap between them and safety from seven points to four while they are two behind second-bottom Wigan Athletic. They have won three of 22 matches so far but two of those victories have come in the last four games.
Struber, who has seven points from six games as head coach, said: “We grow up every day in training and the boys are really listening and concentrating on my style. They develop every day and we are making good progress in the right direction. The table is not so interesting to me, I need to develop the team and, if I do that, we will stay in the league. “My focus is on the performance, not on the result. Normally the performance has the big decision on the result.”
Barnsley have been working on defending in training this week after conceding three goals on Saturday which disappointed the head coach. He said: “We have spent a lot of time working on the defence this week and I am very hopeful that we can have a good game in Millwall and have a lot of stability.”
Whereas the Austrian Bundesliga – which Struber managed in with Wolfsberger before moving to Barnsley last month – began a two-month winter break this week, the Reds will play five times in the next 16 days. After the games tomorrow and on Thursday, they are set to visit Swansea City on December 29, Derby County on January 2 and Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup on January 5.
Struber said: “I think it is crazy but I like it. It’s the first Boxing Day football for me and it will be special. Normally, at Christmas, we have free time and family time in Austria but now it is time for football and I like it. I would normally be skiing at this time of year. The players will have Christmas Day off for time with the family which is important for the boys ahead of a very important match the next day.
“We have a lot of games and I have a big wish that we have a run of wins. It is good for our self-confidence when we win. The next games are very difficult for us but I have a big conviction that we will get the points we need.”
Struber is having English lessons every day and admits improving communication with his players is vital. He said: “I must improve my English. In Austria, I can tell stories to my players but it is more difficult here. I am learning every day and I hope I can improve quickly.”
Struber also praised the Barnsley supporters who have sung his name in recent matches. He said: “We have good fans who give us a good energy in the club and this is maybe our X-factor.”