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Austrian Bundesliga: The Renaissance of Red Bull Salzburg

Article written by: @Selby147

Red Bull Salzburg have become the epítome of the desires they could have only dreamt about following their foundation back in 2005 after they were forced to re-brand, and following the change not only have they they have built a solid foundation for the future but they have also become the figurehead for Austrian football in Europe with their impressive infrastructure and noble aspirations. The fundamental aim for the Red Bulls was to recapture the hearts of the Austrian public from the glory days of the 1994 UEFA Cup campaign which seen Salzburg reach the final of the tournament, to heartbreakingly lose 2-0 to Internazionale over two legs. Now, with an impressive five league titles under their belt since the takeover, Red Bull Salzburg have revitalized into the destined team of 1993-1996. Historically, Salzburg have never experienced as much success as Rapid Vienna and Austria Vienna, with the two sides winning fifty six Championship titles between them over the last hundred years, however in the modern-day era, it seems like the tables are beginning to turn…

Red Bull Salzburg have become an established side in the Austrian Bundesliga with their financial power and disposal of European talent from the coaching staff to the first team line up. Red Bull’s ambitions since the takeover have been crystal clear, typified when veteran Italian headcoach Giovanni Trapattoni was brought in to manage the club alongside German World Cup winner Lothar Matthaus in which proved to be a surprising appointment after the Italian was dismissed at VfB Stuttgart. Consequently, the season proved to be a real success under Trapattoni where they ultimately won the Austrian Bundesliga in his debut season, their first Championship in ten years and most importantly since the football city of Salzburg divided.

Back in 2005, there had been major controversy over the takeover from Red Bull on the then-named ‘Austria Salzburg’ which seen the rise of two notorious fan groups, the ‘Red Whites’, the group in favour of the takeover, against the ‘Violet Whites’ who were keen to maintain the seventy two year tradition of the club, ultimately leading to the demise of the collective fan-base with the introduction of ‘SV Austria Salzburg’.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s tenure came to an end early in 2008 when he announced that he would take over Republic of Ireland which became the catalyst for a number of managerial changes to approach in the coming years with Co Adraiaanse, Huub Steevens and Ricardo Moniz all taking charge between 2008 and 2012 in Red Bull Salzburg’s most successful period on the pitch in the Austrian Bundesliga where they were crowned as champions for three out of the four seasons, despite the frequent change in management. The instrumental figure leading the front-line between Salzburg’s most prosperous years was Marc Janko, the 6ft 5 Austrian forward recorded an impressive feat of hitting seventy five goals in one hundred and seven games sending shock-waves all around the world in 2008 where his thirty nine goals in one single season saw the poacher become the worldwide top goalscorer for that season. Yet despite constant speculation linking the prolific striker with a move to the Premier League, Janko opted to stay with Salzburg until 2010 where he replaced Marko Arnautovic at FC Twente signing for a hefty fee of €7M.

Meanwhile, under Roger Schmidt, Red Bull Salzburg have continued to build on their success and have continued to bring in young talent which has proved to be an daunting but yet rewarding feat whereby Salzburg have produced an array of stars. Including, their latest captain, Jonatan Soriano who has hit seventy nine goals in just eighty nine games since arriving from Barcelona B back in 2012. The Spanish forward’s career has been an unlikely success story where his career seemed to be coming to a standstill where he only hit three goals in forty three appearances for Espanyol. Until he met current Barcelona manager Luis Enrique who was in charge of Barcelona B and helped to turn around his career where he found a new confidence that he had never experienced before at Espanyol.

Since, Jonatan Soriano has continued to flourish at Red Bull Salzburg amongst a wide group of attacking talent and has proved to be one of the best forwards in the history of the Austrian Bundesliga. A lot of responsibility goes down to Roger Schmidt who made a number of changes early in 2012 and financially has proved to be a great success. After leaving Paderborn to manage Red Bull Salzburg, Roger Schmidt bravely made many changes to a club that weren’t in need of drastic change after previously winning the league just months before his appointment.

Under his first season in charge of the Red Bulls, Schmidt came under some criticism after finishing 2nd behind Austria Vienna, however last season’s success proved to be one of Salzburg’s greatest seasons since the major takeover in 2005. In the 2013-2014 season, Red Bull Salzburg dominated the league, netting one hundred and ten goals in just thirty six games, subsequently beating Rapid Vienna to the title by an incredible eighteen points come the end of the season. Additionally, the season seen the birth of attacking football at the Red Bull Arena, with the power of their incredible quartet of Sadio Mané, Kevin Kampl, Alan and Jonatan Soriano. The outstanding work of Schmidt and co certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the heavyweights of World Football, with some of the biggest teams in Europe keeping a close eye on the Austrian front-runners. In the summer of 2014, Roger Schmidt decided to call an end on his stay in Austria for a return to Germany, this time with Bayer Leverkusen.

Subsequently, Schmidt’s departure has led to a mass exodus at the club with Sadio Mané, who hit thirty one goals under the German manager left for the Premier League to join Southampton for €15M. In addition, Slovenian hot prospect, Kevin Kampl joined 2013 Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund for €12M and most recently, Brazillian forward Alan has made the move away to Guangzhou in China on a four year-deal for a fee believed to be around €11.1M. A substantial income of around €40m was made alone on transfer sales over the last year for Salzburg and will continue to be put to good use with the development of the youth system producing young stars such as Valon Berisha who could easily be the next man to make a name for himself in Austria.

This season, under Adolf Hutter, Salzburg have continued to impress at the Red Bull Arena, admirably netting twenty nine goals in their first six games and been able to extend Jonatan Soriano’s deal until 2018. Red Bull have an impressive line of backroom staff with ex-Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick the current sporting-director of the club while Gerard Houllier continues as their Global Sports Director. Curently after nineteen games, they lead the Austrian Bundesliga with thirty eight points, significantly already eight points ahead of Wolfsberger AC and most importantly have eased past the group stage in the Europa League where they will meet Villarreal in their Round of 32 tie next week. It’s arguable, that last season Salzburg’s double under Schmidt had seen the Austrian side reach their peak, however with a solid campaign on track in the Europa League and heavy financial investment continuing to separate Salzburg from the rest of Austria, there is no reason why the renaissance will not continue to cultivate the city and possibly this could be the year they reach the final of the Europa League. They say red bull gives you wings, and Red Bull Salzburg certainly continue to fly.

Article written by: @Selby147

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