Huub Stevens becomes coach of FC Schalke 04 for the fourth time – proving his unbridled love for the club. Nevertheless, the club’s management will have to listen to reproaches.
Huub Stevens is the new coach of FC Schalke 04.
No, it’s not 1996, nor are we in 2011 or 2019. It’s December 18, 2020 – and yes, Stevens is indeed taking over for the fourth time at the club whose fans voted him the “coach of the century” years ago.
It is remarkable, even admirable, how much guts the Dutchman has mustered with this decision. Not only because Schalke has only a pitiful four points after twelve match days and is bottom of the Bundesliga table. But also because the now 67-year-old Stevens doesn’t seem to care at all that he’s putting his impeccable reputation at Schalke on the line with his firefighting efforts.
Such thoughts don’t even occur to the Uefa Cup winner and two-time DFB Cup winner, who has become a legend as the “Growler of Kerkrade”. He loves FC Schalke 04 too much for that. He would do anything for the good of the Königsblauen. And that means taking over a completely paralyzed team with just one day’s preparation and convincing it that it has what it takes to finally win its first Bundesliga match in almost a year.
With Stevens, Schalke slides straight into the next problem
The charming and authoritarian Stevens could certainly be trusted to instill a will to win and self-confidence in the royal blue pile of shit for tomorrow’s game against Arminia Bielefeld (3:30 p.m., in the live ticker at t-online).
But wouldn’t that send Schalke straight into the next problem?
What if Stevens were to make his two-game comeback before Christmas, first by beating promoted Bielefeld 3-0 at the Veltins Arena and then by beating regional league team Ulm in the DFB Cup and entering the round of 16 with a broad chest? It’s naive to think that both the team and the fans would then shrug off Stevens’ (well-deserved) return to coaching retirement. After all, no team in the world wants to let a successful, empathetic coach go.
Sports director Schneider presents himself as haphazard
So the obvious yet surprising move with Stevens only shows how haphazardly Schalke’s sports director Jochen Schneider is currently acting. With David Wagner and Manuel Baum, Königsblau now has two coaches on its payroll who were hired and fired by Swabia. Schneider does not seem to have a serious, medium-term solution after Stevens.
Now, both the Schalke professionals and the fans have no choice but to wait and see. Wait and see whether Stevens can actually revive the footballingly dead team within a week – and if he succeeds, whether his coaching intermezzo will be extended.
What is clear, at least, is this: Schneider is now under more pressure than ever. With Stevens, he may have soothed the fans’ souls in the short term, but the time for panicked knee-jerk reactions has long since expired at Schalke. If he fails to find an adequate solution to the coaching problem over the holidays and between the years, his tenure at Schalke is likely to come to an end. And in the worst-case scenario, this would also mean the end of the royal blue Bundesliga era.