The full-time whistle in Saxony signalled the end of the road for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga. It had been a valiant effort given their precarious position at the end of the Hindrunde. But in the end, they left their survival bid a little too late.
In many ways, it was symbolic of their journey over the last three seasons. From down and out, to fighting back. But in the end, the disparity in quality shone through and it will be another season in the 2. Bundesliga for Schalke. However, positives can be taken away, so, where do Schalke go from here?
The need for patience under Thomas Reis
When Thomas Reis was appointed Schalke manager in October 2022, the Royal Blues were languishing at the bottom of the Bundesliga table with just a solitary victory to their name. Having conceded 26 goals, they were the league’s second leakiest defence, and their chances of survival were beginning to look thin. However, the World Cup break allowed Reis to alter the dynamic of the squad. The improvements that followed as Schalke entered the Rückrunde were evident to see.
Eight games into the Rückrunde and Schalke were unbeaten. Only four goals had been conceded while the league began to take note of the remarkable work accomplished by Reis. However, while goals were not being conceded, they were not flowing in the other direction either. It is a run of games that nearly saved Schalke, but their lack of quality in the forward areas prevented them from earning the required points to stay afloat.
Reis had worked his magic, but ultimately, it was too little too late. Nevertheless, he has installed a hunger and a belief that has not been evident in a Schalke side for some time. They have won back the support of the fans and it is clear to see that if they remain patient under his stewardship, Die Königsblauen will return to the Bundesliga.
Take inspiration from the likes of Union Berlin
With a manager in charge that can this proud club back in a positive direction, all that is required now is a playing squad that can also resemble that. The financial situation at Schalke is far from perfect. In fact, it is still quite damning and relegation will not help that. However, it is manageable and profits have been made over the last few years.
Building a squad with quality and desire does not require a ridiculous financial investment. The path has been set by sides and no more than Union Berlin. A club that very recently had nothing now finds itself in a position where it could have everything. While sacrifices will have to be made, it is imperative that Schalke find a way out of their visionless cycle.
The top goalscorer from their promotion campaign Simon Terodde will be leaving in the summer along with many others that have fought for the Royal Blues this season. However, they have not been good enough and this is an opportunity to rebuild the club. A few seasons in the 2. Bundesliga may be required, but it will act as a platform to build upon. Creating a new side with ambition and desire will resonate with the fans, and a new Schalke side may enter the Bundesliga to return to the lofty heights where they belong.
GGFN | Will Shopland