Schalke sack Christian Gross, their fourth manager of the season. How did it come to this?

To put Schalke’s plight in perspective – this is a club that three seasons ago finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in Bundesliga.

Now Schalke are eighteenth, rock bottom of the league, one win in the season, nine points from safety.

Currently Deloitte Football Money League have Schalke sitting 16th in the richest football clubs in the world, three spots behind La Liga leaders Athletico Madrid and a spot a head of Everton.

Schalke were last in the UEFA Champions League two seasons ago losing 10-2 to Manchester City in the last 16 and, only as long ago as 2014/15, beat Real Madrid 4-3 at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Schalke relieved Gross of his duties after the weekend’s 5-1 loss to Stuttgart

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What has gone so astronomically wrong at Veltins-Arena?

The loss of a legend and a trigger happy board.

It was Domenico Tedesco who led Schalke to the runners-up spot in Bundesliga in 2017/18. Six months later the young Italian was sacked after a 7-0 loss to Man City in the Champions League the proceeding season.

In between these events Schalke lost a legend in club captian Benedikt Höwedes – the youngest player in Schalke’s list of top ten club appearances with 240 games.

From this point the club went into freefall.

Former Spurs boss Christian Gross only took over at Schalke on January 2nd

Former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner came in and led the club to sixteen games without victory. In this instance it was Clemens Tönnies who got it in the neck, stepping down as chairman.

Wagner survived two games of the current season. After an opening day 8–0 thrashing to Bayern followed by a 3-1 loss at home to Bremen, Wagner was replaced by Manuel Baum – who didn’t win a game in the league as Schalke boss.

Club legend Hubb Stevens stepped in to fill the void again – 4th stint as coach. Stevens is a club legend in Gelsenkirchen bringing back the UEFA Cup in 96/97, so none of this plight will be put at the feet of the no-nonsense Dutchman.

Stevens saw the club to the winter break and then came in Christian Gross – fabled as the man that survived half a season as coach of Tottenham Hotspurs.

Domenico Tedesco, now Spartak Moscow manager, led Schalke to runners-up in Bundesliga in 2018 **Photo CC BY-SA 3.0

This publication said at the beginning that Gross’ appointment was uninspiring if solid. We were wrong in our estimations.

There has been nothing solid about Gross’ tenure, which was responsible for seven losses in ten games including the dismal showing in the second Revierderby of the season.

In a spooky twist of fate, Gross was given his marching orders under the exact same scoreline and to the exact same team Lucien Favre lost his job at arch rivals Dortmund earlier in the season.

The club have got rid of Gross, along with assistant Rainer Widmayer, first team coordinator Sascha Riether, fitness coach Werner Leuthard and Head of Sport and Communication Jochen Schneider.

Now development director Peter Knäbel and U23s manager and former player Gerald Asamoah take the reins.

Unavoidable, unambiguous, and no need to beat around the bush. Extraordinary statement from a club in turmoil

Jens Buchta, Chairman of the Supervisory Board on Gross’ dismissal: “Following the two disappointing displays against Dortmund and Stuttgart, these decisions were unavoidable. There’s no need to beat around the bush here: the sporting situation is unambiguous, so we have to think beyond the end of the season with regard to these still outstanding personnel changes. At the same time, responsibility now falls on the team to try and be as successful as possible in the remaining third of the season. The players owe that to the club and to the fans. I would like to thank Jochen Schneider for his tireless efforts with Schalke 04. We wish him, Christian Gross, Sascha Riether, Werner Leuthard and Rainer Widmayer all the best in their personal and professional lives.”

A club that shouldn’t be where they are

This is a club that pre covid was valued at close to 500m Euros. A founding member of Bundesliga. One of the powerhouses of German football.

With European pedigree and modern greats such as Raul and Huntelaar in the legends lists, and being a production ground of talent including half the Bayern team – Leroy Sane and Manuel Neuer’s early careers were formed at the club – this should not be happening, but it is.

Sadly for the loyal and passionate Gelsenkirchen fan base, due to board meddling, it looks highly likely Schalke will be spending a year in Bundesliga 2.

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