After reports surfaced on Saturday morning that a number of leading players had publicly called for Coach Christian Gross to be sacked, citing concerns at the training methods he was employing, it was clear that his spell in charge in Schalke was coming to an end. The team’s lacklustre performance in the 5-1 defeat at VfB Stuttgart yesterday afternoon made his dismissal merely a matter of time.
On Sunday morning the club leadership duly announced his departure, along with those of a number of his back room staff and the team manager. Gross was already the fourth coach to lead Schalke this season and had only been in charge since December. It draws yet another period of woeful underachievement to a close for the team who, lest we forget, were in the European qualifying places in January 2020. The last twelve months have been an utter disaster and there is no sense at all this is coming to an end.
Jochen Schneider, the club’s head of sport, was due to leave at the end of the season, but he was included in the raft of departures announced this morning. He had staked everything on the appointment of Gross , but this proved as ill-fated as his selection of the previous incumbents of the position. The rot at Schalke goes beyond this though. There now appears a total vacuum at every level of the club. Facing financial chaos ever since matches had to be played in empty stadiums, the situation has only deteriorated with Schneider’s recruitment policy failing to have any impact on the performances on the pitch.
Cut adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga, relegation appears inevitable, as it has ever since that first game of the season, when they lost 8-0 at Bayern Munich. Nothing has been able to reverse their fortunes and planning has now begun for life in Bundesliga 2. With the constraints in which they are forced to operate, it would be a very brave pundit who would predict Schalke’s fortunes improving next season. Indeed it looks likely that the club’s decline has some way to go yet.