No end in sight for Schalke’s nightmare season

April 3, 2009

Schalke 04 had high hopes for the 2008/09 season but after only a few weeks it was clear the pre-season favourites, with only three wins in the first nine league matches, were just non-starters.

Coach Fred Rutten saw things go even worse as they were eliminated from the Champions League, then the UEFA Cup and were even dumped out of the German Cup by second-division Mainz.

Schalke fans, among the most fervent supporters in Germany, were fuming and demanding the sacking of manager Andreas Mueller and coach Fred Rutten. “Rutten Raus” and “Mueller Raus” chants taunted the pair in almost every match following the winter break.

Even when Schalke scored, their fans would jeer and whistle. Mueller was sent packing in March and a 2-1 defeat against Hamburg sealed Rutten’s fate as well.

But Schalke’s woes were far from over. With no chance of gaining a UEFA Cup spot and forced to take a budget cut with no Champions League revenues next season, the club went in search of a manager with former Bayern Munich keeper Oliver Kahn seen as the frontrunner.

But Kahn, who met Schalke officials to discuss his 30-page concept for the club, surprisingly turned down the offer saying it was too early for him. “They need someone who can be there 100 percent. Time-wise that is not possible for me at this point,” Kahn said.

So back to the search for Schalke, who are looking for an interim manager to steer them through nine remaining league matches with the team stagnant in eighth place, plus a coach for next season and a manager.

The only problem is the new manager is supposed to approve the new coach, and as long as there is no new manager there is no new coach

Meanwhile Bayern Munich are grinning in the corner as yet another recent competitor to their Bundesliga dominance fades into the background for the time being at least.

PHOTO: Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer dives during their Bundesliga match against Hamburg SV in Gelsenkirchen, March 22, 2009. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

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