Wed, Sep 21, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Schalke’s Weinzierl feeling the pressure after three defeats

AFP, BERLIN

Schalke 04 head coach Markus Weinzierl watches his side play Hertha BSC in their Bundesliga match at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, on Sunday.

Photo: AP

Schalke 04’s Markus Weinzierl is under growing pressure ahead of today’s Bundesliga clash at home to Cologne after becoming the first Konigsblauen coach to lose his opening three league games.

With his side second from bottom of the table, Schalke host Cologne in Gelsenkirchen desperate for points following defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich and Hertha BSC, who beat them 2-0 on Sunday.

The historic start to the season — Schalke had never before lost their opening three games — comes after a busy summer of change at the Veltins-Arena.

Swiss striker Breel Embolo, 19, was signed from Basel for 22 million euros (US$24.5 million), defender Abdul Rahman Baba was signed on loan from Chelsea, while midfielder Max Mayer was away in Rio de Janeiro, impressing as he captained Germany to Olympic silver.

Weinzierl was poached from Augsburg and new sports director Christian Heidel was recruited from FSV Mainz 05, but they have had a dreadful start.

Schalke won their opening UEFA Europa League match on Thursday last week 1-0 at OGC Nice, but the new-look Konigsblauen are struggling with the old problem of finding form in Germany’s top flight.

“Now we face Cologne under even more pressure and must turn them over,” Heidel said. “Talk of unrest is being carried by the media, which is the way it always is at Schalke and we have to live with that. Internally, there is no unrest here.”

However, the Schalke players are restless following the opening results.

“I didn’t sleep much,” midfielder Leon Goretzka said on Monday after the defeat in Berlin. “There is no point sticking our heads in the sand.”

Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes spoke to traveling Schalke fans after the Hertha defeat — and got a round of applause.

“I told them that we didn’t play well, but we all have to stay calm,” the Schalke captain said. “That’s the only way we’ll get out of this together.”

Heidel praised the fans for their reaction at Berlin’s Olympiastadion: “Hats off, that could have gone very differently,” but he knows only a win against Cologne will sooth growing tensions.

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