MARKUS Schopp’s first summer as Barnsley head coach has not been ‘perfect’ but the Austrian believes the club has found ‘a good way forward’ on the eve of the new season.
The Reds begin their Championship campaign at Cardiff City tomorrow, hoping to emulate or better their extraordinary 2020/21 campaign which saw them finish fifth and reach the play-offs for the first time in 21 years before losing to Swansea City in the semi-final.
Schopp – recruited from SV Hartberg after Valerien Ismael’s move to West Bromwich Albion – will be without star centre-back Mads Andersen for the opening weeks while several others have also had injury problems.
The Reds have brought in four new players, and are looking for ‘one or two’ more, while they have not sold any star players but lost Daryl Dike and Alex Mowatt at the end of their contracts.
Schopp told the Chronicle: “There are not many coaches who say everything is perfect in pre-season from the first day.
“You don’t always get all the players you want to have, and sometimes players get injured.
“It’s always tough.
“But I think we have had found a good way forward.
“We have had couple of problems like probably every other club.
“But nothing else counts other than the match on Saturday.
“I don’t complain about anything.”
He added: “The good thing about last season is everyone believes a bit more in the team and their own ability.
“But in soccer you always have to go forward. My plan is to keep going but add a couple of things.
“We want to give the fans a picture of the way we want to play, which will be a nice way.”
The Reds played a very direct style under Ismael, with the most long balls in the Championship, whereas Schopp has encouraged his side to pass the ball out from the back.
Schopp told the Chronicle: “It should be a good mix. It’s all about finding the best solutions against each team.
“We definitely want to add some ideas in possession but a lot of the time it will be what the team did last season, especially off the ball.
“We are right now at the beginning, we still have to figure out a couple of things.”
Schopp has used Ismael’s 3-4-3 formation in every friendly, but says that could change.
He told the Chronicle: “It’s always depending. The team did a really good job in that system last season.
“For me, it’s a situation where we can start in that formation and, depending on the players, we will definitely go in different directions.”
Schopp – who has only previously managed in Austria after a playing career which also took him to Germany, Italy and the USA – is looking forward to his first season in English football.
“England is the Mecca for everyone around the world. The Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world. To be part of this is a big thing and I want to contribute with everything I have to get Barnsley to their goals.
“Everybody, including myself, always has the goal of winning every game.
“The Championship is a tough league and we will focus on Cardiff then every game after that. But we will have a team on the pitch that is ready to fight from the first game.”
Barnsley brought in Aaron Leya Iseka on Monday from Toulouse, making him the second Belgian striker to arrive within a week after Obbi Oulare.
“Obbi is a player who has a lot of quality, especially in the air, but he offers solutions on the ground.
“Hopefully we can help him to break through in his career.
“Aaron came in this week, after joining one session last week. He can play on the wings, he has good technical ability.
“He has qualities that we don’t have in other players.
“If they adapt to how we want to play, they will be good players for us.”
Central midfielder Josh Benson joined from Premier League Burnley. Schopp said: “He gives us something different. He has a lot of ability in possession and he gives some something with creativity. It is a process of getting to know him better. His set pieces were definitely one of the reasons to sign him. With Alex (Mowatt) we lost a player who knew where to put the ball and Josh has this ability. It is another of his strengths.”
Schopp enjoyed meeting up with his former Brescia team-mate Pep Guardiola whose Manchester City side beat Barnsley 4-0 in a friendly on Saturday.
“It was nice meeting him. It was a tough game for us but it was good to talk to him because he’s a good coach but a really good person.”