BA lot of strange things have happened at FC Schalke 04, the absurdities of the Royal Blues fill entire books. A new chapter has now been added to this turbulent week: Schalke 04 has accomplished the difficult feat of paying a fee of allegedly around 300,000 euros for a coach who was fired at another club. And that too in an economic situation that is so precarious that this coach had to help finance the deal himself.
Nevertheless, Thomas Reis was in a good mood when he arrived at his new workplace on Thursday morning. “We’ve finally found each other,” said Schalke’s sporting director Peter Knäbel, relieved when the 49-year-old soccer coach was introduced.
The search for a coach had dragged on for almost two weeks, and when many of the club’s experts were expecting the candidate to be presented on Wednesday, the sudden resignation of sporting director Rouven Schröder intervened, who next Sunday (5:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on DAZN ) will still be painfully present in the game against SC Freiburg. This turn of events was also the first major topic on the day Thomas Reis arrived, who reported that he was “of course involved in the events early on”.
Not everyone was immediately convinced
The new coach had his first talks with Schröder, whose resignation took everyone by surprise. The fact that it was not possible to get through at least the two and a half weeks until the winter break is a clear indication of a certain degree of drama in the events. But internal conflicts are not the reason for resignation, Knäbel assured, Schröder was not only an employee, but also became “a friend”. “He’s missing,” said the sports director, “he will also be missing in our heads for a long time, everyone knows from their private lives the feeling of loss, fear, pain and the eternal question: why?” Only Schröder himself can give a well-founded answer give.
There are reports of a close friend of Schröder’s who was seriously ill and of a certain exhaustion. “That was the right moment for Rouven, and we have to respect that,” said Knäbel, who then preferred to look ahead. With Reis, the team finally has the coach that Schröder would have liked to have hired before the season started. At that time, the plan failed due to the veto of Reis’ employer at the time, VfL Bochum, who fired Reis in September after six defeats at the start of the season.
“Of course I’m happy, after turbulent days for me too, that it finally worked out that I can go back to my job,” said Reis, radiating a lot of positive energy. The situation is difficult, of course, but he will “try to develop this fun and this greed again, to get the desire in my head that winning the ball is also a partial success”.
Schalke may have a squad full of major weaknesses, which were made even worse by a number of injuries, but Reis should achieve what he also did in Bochum: activate the energies of a very passionate football location in order to offset the footballing superiority of the competition. The fact that Schalke took so long to finally decide in favor of Reis and that not everyone in the club management was immediately convinced of this football coach did not deter Reis. “If I’m presented as a plan B, C or D, I don’t care. I sit here and no one else. I have been given this honorable task.”
Schalke had previously asked Bruno Labbadia and Domenico Tedesco, among others, but had been rejected. Reis used the fact that he was helping fund his move from Bochum to Gelsenkirchen to fight a claim that had weighed on him during his final weeks at VfL. There he was accused of greed because he had toyed with the idea of leaving his old heart club on Castroper Straße in the direction of Gelsenkirchen in the summer.
Although he would “not talk about money,” he said, he did reveal a few thoughts: “I tried to support, in what form it will remain between us. That was worth a lot to me, it’s easy to be accused of being too greedy. I’m greedy for success and for this club.”
In fact, this move to Schalke has other benefits that are rare in a coaching career. “I don’t need to move, I feel very comfortable in the Ruhr area, I just fit into the Ruhr area,” said Reis. The fact that he no longer has a sports director by his side didn’t seem to spoil his joy. For most Schalke, the loss of Schröder, who had recently become more and more the face of the club, weighs very heavily.
For the time being, sports director Knäbel will take on the duties of sports director, supported by sports coordinator René Grotus and chief scout André Hechelmann, who previously worked with Schröder for many years and was considered his right-hand man when it came to player transfers. A bit of Rouven Schröder will remain with Schalke, which doesn’t help that much if there is no money for transfers.