Sunday, June 4, 2023

Time For Schalke To Kick On After A More Than Decent Transfer Window

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Amit Mishra
Former Editor at The 4th Official. Liverpool and Schalke make my life miserable.

If you ask a Schalke fan what went wrong in their team’s opening Bundesliga game against Eintracht Frankfurt, a very familiar shrug awaits you. It was a sense of Déjà vu from last season as the team looked like Chuck Noland trying to figure out a way to get by a deserted Island. How the game finished only 1-0 is still a mystery.  In fact, so bad was the performance that many would tell you the season actually starts after the international break. Having said that, facing Bayern seems like a daunting task considering how good the Holders were against Bremen who didn’t know what hit them.

But is the future that bleak? The Schalke fans have been used to a bit of mediocrity ever since that horrendous spell that led to Jens Keller’s demise. Performances simply haven’t been good enough, but you could argue that they never had a team good enough to consistently churn out results that could keep the club at the same level with Bayern and Dortmund.

The truth is, the fans will see a lot better. With new players like Stambouli, Bentaleb and more recently Yevhen Konoplyanka, there is hope for the Royal Blues of Gelsenkirchen. A lot was expected when Christian Heidel was announced as the Sporting Director earlier this year and frankly, he has delivered in the last few months.

There have been departures of course, but the signings of prominent names is what has kept the fans’ spirits up. Leroy Sane’s departure will have hurt, but Konoplyanka one his day is a handful. Besides, the Schalke fans won’t complain too much about the fee they have received for a lad who at times last season, was good enough only for the bench. Konoplyanka, on loan from Sevilla, once had Liverpool clamouring for his signature and he’ll look to find a new home at the Veltins Arena. Naldo is no saint at the backline, but the fans will hope Weinzierl can milk the best out of the Brazilian. Kurt Zouma’s addition would have strengthened the defence, but nevermind now.

The core of the team could well be changed in a few weeks’ time. Johannes Geis could sadly be a casualty if he doesn’t raise his game as Stambouli and Bentaleb come with their own impressive pedigree. A new striker would have been nice, considering how the Hunter is pretty much past his peak and Chupo-Moting is yet to give the managers he’s worked under enough reasons to deploy him as an out and out striker. The less said about Di Santo, the better. It hasn’t been a fantastic window, but one that’s acceptable than the previous ones.

All eyes will be on Breel Embolo, who was signed for hefty money. The Swiss is still raw, but Schalke beat a lot of top sides for his signature which shows how higly rated he is. Weinzierl does have a tough task of finding out his best position, though.

The defensive recruits were Baba Rahman and Coke and they will strengthen the team. Although Baba didn’t have the best of times at Chelsea, his reunion with Weinzierl could turn out to be a good thing.

As for the gaffer, well, you can’t really complain too much after just one game, can you? The Schalke fans have seen much worse under Di Matteo and Breitenreiter. Part of Heidel’s success at Mainz was giving the coach ample time and his own space and that’s what Markus Weinzierl will get in the coming months. The performances will get better as the team gels and so will the results, so there isn’t a need to even go near the panic button, let alone press it.

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