FC Schalke have recovered remarkably following a summer transfer window that largely consisted of offloading their most-prized players. Although they’re significantly below German Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich; the Royal Blues are embarking on another promising chapter in their history.
The Gelsenkirchen club were one of the most dominant teams in Germany during the pre-Bundesliga era, winning a total of seven German Championships. The Bundesliga era has been less successful for Die Knappen and they’re still searching for that elusive Bundesliga title, despite finishing runners-up on seven occasions.
Die Königsblauen have long been underachievers in German football due to their failure to restrain fan-favourites from leaving the Veltins-Arena. They’ve allowed the likes of Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Howedes, Joel Matip, Sead Kolasinac, Leroy Sane, Mezut Ozil, Ivan Rakitic, Julian Draxler and Ilkay Gundagon to move elsewhere in recent seasons.
Their last period of success tracks back to only 2011, when they followed their runners-up finish in the German Bundesliga with their fifth DFB-Pokal Cup and a semi-finals spot in the UEFA Champions League. They did, however, subsidise their performance in the Bundesliga for European and DFB-Pokal Cup success.
Schalke slumped to a 14th place finish, which led to the sackings of both Felix Magath and Ralf Ragnick during the 2010/11 campaign. They were lionised in Europe for beating Valencia and defending champions Inter Milan on their route to the semi-finals, but were subsequently knocked out by Manchester United.
This has largely contributed to their failure to form a consistent run of form and achieve long-term success. It’s become incredibly frustrating and tedious for fans of the Royal Blues. It seemingly felt as if they were about to enter another phase of decline due to the departures of Howedes and Kolasinac in the summer transfer window.
Even more concerning was the appointment of new manager Domenico Tedesco. Former manager Markus Weinzierl was dismissed at the end of his solitary campaign in Gelsenkirchen but many eyebrows were raised by the appointment of the unknown 32-year-old.
Fortunately, Tedesco has inspired FC Schalke 04 to a run of just three defeats in their first 17 Bundesliga games, to send them into the winter break in second-place. The inevitable departure of Leon Goretzka may force them to rebuild again in the summer but they should be able to maintain their form if they stick to their club philosophy of replacing outgoing stars with talented young players.
Who is Domenico Tedesco?
Only the most educated and intimate German football spectators would’ve had any knowledge that Domenico Tedesco even existed. Six months later, he’s making waves in the top flight of German football and nearly every German football fan acknowledges his qualities, especially FC Schalke 04 supporters.
His route to prosperity is one of the rarest cases in modern football due to his lack of experience in professional football. Firstly, the 32-year-old has minimal experience in playing the beautiful game and his history largely lies in business and engineering rather than football.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in business engineering, a master’s in innovation management and speaks five languages, according to These Football Times. The Italian-German coach also topped his German football federation coaching class, which included Hoffenheim’s 29-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann.
Germany have expanded on their scheme of producing young players by paving the way for young aspiring German managers to succeed at the highest level. Nagelsmann was the pioneer by becoming the youngest manager in the history of the Bundesliga, when he took charge of Hoffenheim aged just 28-years-old. However, Tedesco has potentially exceeded the achievements of Nagelsmann with his explosion onto the scene in such a significantly short period of time.
He previously coached VfB Stuttgart under-17s and Hoffenheim under-19s and also enjoyed a successful stint with FC Erzgebirge Aue, where he rescued them from relegation to the third tier. Tedesco impressed the public when unveiling his vision of the game and his future plans for the club. However, he still had a lot to prove and it would be a mounting task considering his lack of experience…
How Has Tedesco Brought Stability to FC Schalke 04?
Tedesco has brought stability and continuity to FC Schalke 04 since taking the reins in June. He’s applied his trust in youth, with the regular inclusion of 19-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie and 21-year-old defender Thilo Kehrer in the starting line-up.
He demonstrated his high level of perception by offloading fan-favourite Benedikt Howedes and Bosnian international Sead Kolasinac in the summer transfer window. Was he leading Die Knappen into further turmoil or would it prove a secretive masterstroke?
The supporters inevitably awaited an imminent replacement for two of the club’s biggest stars but Tedesco remained insistent on hurling young Kehrer into their back-three. Oczipka arrived from Eintracht Frankfurt to replace Kolasinac but the supporters’ nerves were jangling due to the uncertainty of having a 21-year-old replace one of the most trusted figures in the back-line.
FC Schalke have sharpened up defensively this season, making an average of 17.5 interceptions and 20.5 tackles per game in the German Bundesliga. They have also conceded the most fouls, which shows their determination to thwart the opposition and their commitment to Tedesco’s project. Their famous comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby in November was evidential of the team’s diehard and resilient attitude, which will benefit them as the season reaches its climax.
The 32-year-old has introduced a possession-based style, which requires efficiency and high levels of organisation, concentration and fitness. He’s also relied upon a familiar starting line-up, which has brought cohesion, continuity and stability to the club. If they can continue the momentum, they’ll guarantee a place in the UEFA Champions League but it’ll be incredibly difficult to catch Bayern Munich in the second part of the Bundesliga campaign.