Dietmar Kuhbauer has been appointed as manager of Rapid Vienna, but who is he?
Outside of Austria, he certainly doesn’t have too much of a reputation. But in his homeland, he’s apparently a national treasure.
Having made over 200 appearances for Rapid during his playing days, he’s a legend in Vienna. Kuhbauer is nicknamed “Don Didi”, and won more than many in a Rapid jersey. During his five-year spell in Vienna, he won the Austrian Budesliga and Austrian Cup. He was also part of the side that reached the 1996 European Cup Winners’ Cup before losing out to PSG.
Rapid axed former manager Goran Djuricin after a string of terrible performances and fan discontent. This peaked during a match against rivals Austria Vienna, where Rapid lost 1-0 at home. This sparked crazy scenes involving riot police being forced to deal with angry Rapid supporters.
Rumours had also been doing the rounds that Djuricin stuck a crude gesture up at his own supporters after Saturday’s defeat to St Polten. Who was Polten’s manager that day? Kuhbauer.
He spent just one-and-a-half years at Polten, and is more experienced than his reputation would make you think. He’s been managing since 2008, but hasn’t left Austria during that time. Instead, he’s stayed in his homeland to manage Trenkwalder Admira, Admira Modling, Wolfsberger AC, and Polten before arriving at Rapid.
Difficult to know what to expect
So what should Rangers expect in terms of his style?
Kuhbauer preferred to play a 3-4-1-2 formation with his players at Polten. Whenever they faced the likes of Red Bull Salzburg, however, that quickly changed to a 5-4-1. Kuhbauer was known for being organised and difficult to break down against the better sides. He focused on a defensive game and packed his own defensive third to try and get points.
It’s highly doubtful he’ll arrive at Ibrox and look to do the same. He doesn’t know much about the Rapid squad as of yet, and will only have had a maximum of two or three training sessions before the match.
You should expect Rapid to line-up in something that mirrors the 3-4-1-2 he adored at Polten. Thomas Murg and Andrei Ivan will be expected to provide the service from the flanks in this system.
Goals have been a problem for Rapid, however. Deni Alar, their top striker and the man expected to lead the line in Glasgow, has just three goals to his name this season.
Kuhbauer won’t have much familiarity with the Rapid side, but may know enough to make Thursday a big challenge given he’s been in Austria throughout his career.
Come the next meeting between the sides in Vienna, we’ll know a lot more about how he views Rangers and likes to play. For now, Kuhbauer is probably pitching up at Ibrox more in hope rather than expectation.