The Rangnick Effect At Schalke

Posted on April 7, 2011

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It was widely expected at the beginning of the season that Schalke, with Felix Magath in charge, would be challenging at the summit of the Bundesliga.

Magath was arriving in Gelsenkirchen off the back of a sensational title triumph with VfL Wolfsburg the season previously and the lucrative four-year contract with Schalke represented the start of a new long-term project at the club.

The 57-year-old’s medicine balls and heavy fitness schedules had a positive effect on Schalke as they finished 2nd in the Bundesliga and sealing a Champions League position for season 2010-2011. But as expected, Magath’s impact was only short-term at the Veltins Arena and Die Königsblauen’s form dipped and by March, they found themselves on the verge of a relegation battle with several other under-performing sides.

Drastic action was indeed taken and Magath took his ‘balls’ and swapped his post at Schalke for his old job at the Volkswagen Arena.

Sporting director Horst Heldt was quick to appoint former Hoffenheim supremo Ralf Rangnick who left the club after a bitter dispute following Luis Gustavo’s move to FC Bayern.

Rangnick signed a four-year contract at Schalke and, just a few weeks in to his new role, is already having the desired effect on the playing staff.

His first game in the Schalke technical area was last Friday as his side dispatched St Pauli by two goals before the game was abruptly brought to a close after the linesman was struck by a cup of beer from the home fans. Rangnick’s second game in charge will go down as a memorable night in Schalke’s European history with the German side thumping the holders of the Champions League 5-2 in the San Siro in an enthralling match.

Rangnick looked on as Goncalves Edu brushed aside what was a formidable defensive-line last season to score twice in the victory, with Raul and 19-year-old Joel Matip also on the scoresheet.

One stand out aspect of Schalke’s performance on Wednesday was the defensive performance, despite conceding two goals on the night. Removing 34-year-old Hans Sarpei from the equation, it was a very inexperienced backline at such a high level with Howedes and Uchida 23-years-old and Papadopolous just 19.

Given the extremely competitive nature of the Bundesliga, Die Knappen are still realistically in a relegation battle with just six points separating them and VfB Stuttgart who are one place outside the relegation positions. On the other hand, 10th-placed Schalke are just six points off Nurnberg who are in 6th.

The second stat will be encouraging to Schalke fans and with six domestic games remaining, catching Nurnberg is not impossible. Rangnick’s first match at the Veltins Arena will be against Wolfsburg – coached by Magath – on Saturday afternoon.

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Posted in: Feature