Sunderland manager hunt: The inside track on ex-Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel, his methods, style of play and Oakwell exit
Barnsley and Sunderland both sacked their managers on the same day, with ex-Oakwell boss Daniel Stendel quickly installed as one of the favourites to take charge at the Stadium of Light.
Stendel led the south-Yorkshire outfit to promotion from League One last season but they have struggled this season in the Championship and his departure was announced hours before Ross was handed the same fate at the Academy of Light.
The German coach was hugely popular at Barnsley among the fanbase, the young squad embracing his philosophy and 'gegenpress' tactics.
Ross was sacked just hours before the EFL Trophy victory over Grimsby Town with the Black Cats sixth in League One, already eight points adrift of league leaders Ipswich Town after just 11 games.
Sunderland don’t have a game this weekend as a result of the home game against Fleetwood Town being postponed due to international call-ups.
A chance, therefore, to take stock while Stewart Donald leads the recruitment process, with Sunderland next in action a week on Saturday when they travel to face Wycombe Wanderers.
Stendel, Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook and Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth are among the early favourites for the job.
We caught up with Yorkshire Post football writer Leon Wobschall to get the inside track on Stendel and whether he’d be a good fit for Sunderland – and vice-versa.
In terms of style of football, how did Stendel tend to operate? Were his teams on the front foot or more conservative?
LW) “Stendel's team successfully operated the 'gegenpress' tactics associated with many German coaches last season in helping Barnsley to an impressive promotion, with the players quickly buying into his ethos following his arrival in the summer of 2018.
“It helped that he had many young players who were willing to embrace his philosophy straightaway.
“It was full-throttle, quick transition football, based on getting the ball back quickly when out of possession.
“He is a manager who also likes control in central midfield and discipline and order defensively.
“Barnsley's defensive statistics were the best in the EFL last season, but following the departures of Adam Davies, Liam Lindsay and Ethan Pinnock, it has been a lot more problematic in that regard this term and has proved a major part in Barnsley's toils. “
Q) As a person, what was his managerial manner like and how was he to deal with?
LW) “Daniel is a really good guy who wears his heart on his sleeve as you can see on the touchline.
“Coming from the old East Germany - he learnt Russian as a child - his English was not the best initially, but has improved since if still not perfect.
“He quickly endeared himself to Barnsley fans by watching some of last year's World Cup games in a local pub and was a 'regular guy' in common parlance.
“He is humble, down-to-earth and with a ferocious work ethic to match.
“Day-to-day training was fun and enjoyable under him and the players really liked working with him. He is a very talented coach.”
Q)What were the key reasons for him leaving Barnsley?
“Recruitment. He struggled to conceal concerns in the summer about Barnsley's lack of experience and his fears have proved prophetic.
“He was desperate for the club - whose defined recruitment model is not to sign players over 23 and to purchase players to develop and sell on in the future - to be pragmatic and bring in two or three 'senior heads' to help the young players acclimatise to the unforgiving Championship.
“But his pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears. Results suffered and his frustrations grew.”
Q)Do you think he and Sunderland would be a good fit?
LW) “It will be interesting to see if it transpires.
“At Barnsley, his players were young and eager to embrace his philosophy after an incoherent time under the command of Jose Morais in the second half of 2017-18 and he had a pre-season to get his message across.
“He also had some players who were always likely to excel at League One level such as Lindsay, Pinnock and Alex Mowatt
“Philosophy is important, but at Sunderland it is all about results and getting out of the division, first and foremost.
“Stendel would quickly build an organisation and togetherness, that is for sure and understand who fits into his system and who does not.”
Q)Is a realistic candidate, or will he have his sights set higher?
LW) “Stendel has found English football to his liking and it seems like a natural home for him.
“He immediately took to the working-class surroundings of Yorkshire and would definitely do the same if he ends up at Sunderland, even though it is a considerably bigger club than Barnsley.”