Scout report: The Barnsley insight that could prove a worry for Jonathan Woodgate and Middlesbrough
The last thing Jonathan Woodgate may need right now is a battle with a manager who has already masterminded a thrashing of the current German Bundesliga leaders this season.
Yes, Gerhard Struber arrives at the Riverside tomorrow now in charge of a Barnsley side even worse off than Boro at the wrong end of the Championship.
The Tykes’ last league win came on the season’s opening day, and their last away victory in the Championship was in February 2018.
But having famously upset the odds in steering Austrian minnows Wolfsberger to a stunning 4-0 Europa League victory away at Borussia Monchengladbach in September, Struber will fancy doing so again.
So how will Barnsley set up - and what specific threats will they pose - in only their new Austria manager’s second game in English football?
Here’s our scouting report on the Tykes ahead of tomorrow’s relegation six-pointer.
Who IS Barnsley’s manager?
Struber, only appointed on November 20, saw his new side beaten 3-2 at Blackburn in his maiden game in charge on Saturday.
But that was a rare low point in a season which saw him lead Wolfsberger to third place in the Austrian Bundesliga - and that famous win over Monchengladbach - after only arriving at the club in the summer.
Wolfsberger lost only three times (twice to leaders Red Bull Salzburg) and scored in 12 of 14 league games under Struber.
Having spent most of his coaching career at Red Bull, Struber was in charge of their feeder team Liefering FC immediately before taking the Wolfsberger job.
What system will Barnsley play?
The Tykes have operated with a three-man defence in their last six games, including in Struber’s first game in charge.
The Austrian, though, fielded a 4-3-1-2 formation in most of his games at Wolfsberger and, with a fully fit squad, has the option to change to that system for the trip to the Riverside.
Barnsley’s late, late show
Barnsley have come alive late in games this season, scoring seven of their 18 goals (39%) in the final 20 minutes of matches.
Combine that stat with the fact that Boro have conceded 35% of their goals in the final 20 minutes this season - including two as Hull battled back from 2-0 down on Sunday - and the need for Woodgate’s men to see the job through tomorrow night is clear.
Conversely, Boro may look to hit Barnsley hard just after the hour mark, with 33% of the Teessiders’ goals this season coming between the 60th and 70th minutes - and Barnsley conceding 25% of their goals in that same period.
Barnsley’s key men?
Cauley Woodrow is the Tykes’ top scorer, averaging just under a goal every other game, with six in 13 so far, but the striker has only hit two on the road.
But it may be Alex Mowatt’s creativity from midfield - from both set pieces and open play - which Boro should perhaps watch out for most, as he lies joint fifth in the Championship assists table this season.