Welcome home, Didi Kühbauer!
Following the decision to release Goran Djuricin from his duties as head coach of SK Rapid Vienna, there was an important point to discuss on the agenda at the most recent board meeting. On Monday evening the club leadership convened, with SK Rapid President Michael Krammer being joined by Sporting Director Fredy Bickel and Finance Director Christoph Peschek.
After clearing up other important items on the usual schedule, Fredy Bickel delivered an in-depth analysis of the last weeks and months and presented his recommendations on how to proceed with regards the position of Head Coach of the SK Rapid first team. Bickel's recommendations were met with universal approval, and so it was that on Tuesday that one of the club's favourite sons Dietmar Kühbauer was installed in the vacant role. For the 47-year old, the move represents a romantic return to the club after an absence of almost two decades. Between 1992 and 1997 Kühbauer (176 appearances/39 goals; Austrian cup winner 1995; Austrian league winner 1996; UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup) was an integral part of a highly successful Rapid side before moving abroad to represent San Sebastian’s Real Sociedad and German side VFL Wolfsburg. He played out the final years of his career as one of the leading architects of the SV Mattersburg fairy-tale rise trough Austrian football.
Kühbauer began his career as a trainer at another of his former clubs in December 2008, when he took over as the head coach of Admira reserves. He was handed the first team reins two years later, guiding his team into the Austrian top flight in 2011. In Admira's first season back in the big time, they finished in an impressive third place qualifying for Europe in the process. Kühbauer departed the Mödling club in June 2013, taking over at Wolfsberger AC three months later, where he guided them – for the first time in the club's history - into European competition. In November 2015, 95 matches later, Kühbauer and Wolfsberg parted company. In April this year he was back in the management hot seat, this time at SKN St. Pölten, where he quickly moulded a struggling outfit at the foot of the table into a decent team that would go on to finish in the top half of the table. After taking just one point from their opening 5 games, St. Pölten went on to take an average of 1.9 points per game across the rest of the season, losing only once in the final 16 games!
Fredy Bickel had the following to say on the appointment: "I've had a very high opinion of Didi for a long time and had a lot of positive conversations with him well before his successful stint at St. Pölten. I’m convinced that he is just what we are looking for in our current situation and I’m delighted that he has decided to accept our offer despite how well St. Pölten are currently performing. Kühbauer has signed a contract tying him Rapid until summer 2021, and of course we’re happy for him to bring his assistant with him into the current trainer team", said Bickel. The Assistant in question is Kühbauer's long serving right hand man Manfred Nastl, who worked with him at Admira, WAC and SKN St. Pölten. He replaces the highly respected Martin Bernhard, who has been offered another position within the club. Bernhard has quite rightly asked for time to consider the offer. The rest of the coaching staff will remain unchanged.
On his new role at SK Rapid, Dietmar Kühbauer had the following to say: "I never made a great secret of the fact that my goal has always been to become head coach of Rapid Vienna. I’m delighted that this trust has been put in me. Together we have this hugely challenging and difficult task before us, but I have a burning desire to rise to it", said the 47-year old.