Possible Candidates for Schalke Job Abound

Now that the media and fans have given their sympathy and respects to Ralf Rangnick’s health concerns, serious consideration for the next coach at Schalke 04 is underway. And it appears everyone has an opinion. The media are throwing out names like Thorsten Fink, Christian Gross and Michael Büskens. Fans have their hearts set on others — Huub Stevens or Otto Rehhagel.

Let’s do a quick review of the candidates. DerWesten.de is touting Thorsten Fink as a major candidate and also mentions Mike Büskens, Franco Foda and Michal Skibbe.

Fink is a former Bayern Munich midfielder who is currently manager of FC Basel. He previously coached FC Ingolstadt 04 before heading to Basel, following fellow candidate Christian Gross.

A former midfielder for Fortuna Düsseldorft and Schalke 04, Büskens was a manager and assistant manager for Schalke 04 II, served various times as interim and/or assistant for Schalke 04 (between 2008-2009) and is now manager at Gruether Fürth (currently top of the table in 2. Bundesliga).

Büskens is also a favorite of Heinz Geldermann, a Schalke 04 fan in Gelsenkirchen who writes the blog,  http://neunzehnhundertvier.wordpress.com/. Geldermann cites Büskens’ “aggressive football style,” the fact that he is rooted in the region and his acceptance by the fans as characteristics that make Büskens an ideal candidate for the job.

Fodo is a German defender who played for a variety of Bundesliga teams as well as FC Basel and Sturm Graz. Since moving to coaching, he has worked in various positions at Sturm Graz, where he is currently manager. Skibbe played two seasons for Schalke 04, then coached Schalke’s youth team. He has also coached a variety of Bundesliga teams and is now manager at Eskisehirspor in Turkey.

Christian Gross’ name has also been bandied about by some. Gross currently manages Young Boys Bern. He has also managed VfB Stuttgart (where he was sacked in October 2010), then managed FC Basel for 10 years.

One candidate mentioned briefly was Hansi Flick, the assistant coach for Germany’s national team. However, Flick has apparently already said he is not interested (goal.com).

Another favorite, at least among the fans, who appears to already be out of the running is Huub Stevens. Stevens, the Dutch defender who previously managed Schalke (along with a variety of other Bundesliga teams) is apparently just moments away from a final deal with Hamburg (and may have already signed on the dotted line by the time this post is made).

However, @FitzeFatz picked Stevens early on because he is “well-liked by the fans, in need of an assignment and he speaks German, exactly what the club wants.” @Schalke_usa, an American fan, was also seriously hoping to have Stevens at Veltins Arena. Why? “Charisma! Defense! Defense! Defense! Integrity! Silverware! Gravitas! Results!” All good reasons — which is probably why bottom-of-the-table Hamburg has him all but signed.

@Schalke_usa did have a backup candidate, though: Otto Rehhagel. The former manager of the Greece national team (he resigned in 2010 following Greece’s elimination in the World Cup) has managed a variety of clubs including Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. @Schalke_usa’s reasoning: “Defense again! Plus: experience, dedication and determination.”

Seppo Eichkorn is interim manager for the team and general manager Horst Heldt apparently has no timetable in place for replacing Rangnick. @Schalke_UK says the club’s target should be “to have a coach in for the Kaiserslautern game on October 15. That gives Heldt around 3 weeks to find someone.”

Juggling Europa League play (which resumes this week) and a shaky 5th place in the Bundesliga, the team is in dire need of some stability, and soon, although Schalke’s 4-2 win over Freiburg Saturday, with goals by Farfan, Huntelaar, Holtby and Raul should ease the anxiety of Royal Blues supporters.  Schalke host Maccabi Haifa at the Veltins on Thursday.

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Jody Strauch teaches mass media at Northwest Missouri State University. She's fairly new to Bundesliga but has been a rabid fan since the 2006 World Cup. You can follow her on Twitter @jodelld. She tweets FC Schalke 04, FC Fulham, and Sporting Kansas City.

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  1. I think the main problem with Magath was that he bought and sold lots of players and fans didn’t recognize their team anymore. Van Gaal mainly worked with what players he had and included a lot of youth players in the team. I don’t see too much similarities between them actually.
    But that’s a moot point now anyways.

  2. Excellent story, Jody. Keep up the good work. I totally disagree with you about Huub Stevens, though. He wouldn’t be a “same old, same old” kind of head coach despite having led FC Schalke 04 in the past. Huub would provide a fresh defensive perspective for a team that has one of the worst defenses in the league. And even though Stevens is an older man, he would bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to a Schalke club that lacks in both departments currently. Huub Stevens is deservedly well-loved and respected by us long-time Schalke supporters. If S04 hires him again, I most certainly will be on cloud nine. With Stevens back in charge of the Royal Blues, a Bundesliga title will eventually become more than just a dream. Now let’s just hope and pray that Tonnies and Heldt do the right thing and bring Stevens back to Gelsenkirchen. If not him, then Otto Rehhagel at least.

    Benjamin: Bringing Louis van Gaal to FC Schalke 04 would be a huge mistake. I don’t think there’s even the slightest chance that will happen and that’s a very good thing. Louis van Gaal is too much like Felix Magath and the S04 supporters will NEVER accept such a move!

  3. Hearing this morning that Hamburg has pulled out of talks with Stevens, and that Heldt called Stevens. I was really hoping Schalke might try something new and different, but it appears the ‘same old-same old’ might be the plan.

  4. I don’t think Schalke should buy a trainer out of a contract, only to fire him half a year later anyways. There’s enough trainers without a job. They should ask van Gaal. 🙂

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