SPORTS Multiple sackings as Schalke plunges into chaos


Multiple sackings as Schalke plunges into chaos


09:23, March 01, 2021

Bastian Oczipka (L) of Schalke 04 vies with Karim Onisiwo of Mainz during a German Bundesliga match between FSV Mainz 05 and FC Schalke 04 in Mainz, Germany, Feb. 16, 2020. (Photo by Joachim Bywaletz/Xinhua)

The Bundesliga's bottom side Schalke 04 is plunging into unmanageable chaos. While relegation appears inevitable after 22 rounds of matches, the Royal Blues seem to have lost control on all levels.

A devastating 5-1 defeat against Stuttgart triggered a wave of layoffs. The following day, the club announced the departures of head of sport Jochen Schneider, team manager Sascha Riether, head coach Christian Gross and athletic coach Werner Leuthard.

Gross was Schalke's fourth coach this season. The 66-year-old got the sack after only two months in charge with a record of one win in ten games.

As if the total of nine points and goal difference of 16-61 wasn't disastrous enough, a reported revolt against coach Gross last week increased turmoil around one of Germany's most prominent clubs.

Former Arsenal players Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac were said to be leading the rebellion against Gross, along with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. While Schalke backed Gross in advance of the Stuttgart game, the team's poor performance was interpreted as a clear vote against the coach.

The players accused Gross of bad training methods and complained about him mispronouncing their names. Leuthard is blamed for the large number of injuries among the club's players.

Schalke keeper Michael Langer called Gross "the poorest fellow" in the club's fatal malaise.

The player's action had triggered a wave of outrage among fans. Many called it embarrassing to support the club and spoke of the aforementioned players as traitors.

After last week's derby defeat against Borussia Dortmund, hundreds of fans tried to invade the club's stadium, with police having to protect the club's property.

Technical director Peter Knaebel is set to take over Schneider's job, while new coaching staff must be found. Former Schalke player Mike Bueskens and talent coach Norbert Elgert are possible options until the end of the season.

Others speak of former Schalke coach Peter Neururer as possibly taking over.

Television footage showed Gross leaving his hotel on Sunday morning with packed suitcases.

The club's latest struggles seem to endanger all efforts to set up rescue plans and achieve a quick return to the first tier, as a debt burden of up to 240 million euros is in the way.

Attempts to rejuvenate the team in the last winter break failed, with the arrival of several aging players. David Wagner, Manuel Baum, Huub Stevens, and Gross all failed in their respective spells as head coach.

Schalke's unbalanced selected squad was said to be untrainable. Several players were suspended but later returned to action.

Should Schalke fall into Germany's second tier, it would represent their fourth such demotion after 1981, 1983 and 1988.

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