Bayer 04 Leverkusen have made the decision to dismiss Coach Roger Schmidt following the club’s third consecutive loss this weekend, a 6-2 beatdown administered by Borussia Dortmund. Club executive Michael Schade commented
After detailed analysis and discussions, we reached the conclusion that in view of the current sporting trend, parting company [with Schmidt] would be painful but necessary for the further development of Bayer 04 to enable us to achieve our aims
Schmidt, 49, took over the coaching reins with Die Werkself in June, 2014 after guiding Red Bull Salzburg to the Austrian Bundesliga title. He has a record of 62 wins, 29 draws and 37 losses with Leverkusen in league play and has guided the club to European competition each season in charge. Nevertheless, the talent level at the club results in higher expectations than a current 10 place berth in the table, a losing record (9-3-11) and a negative 2 goal differential, a betrayal of the amount of attacking talent on Schmidt’s squad. A replacement for Schmidt, rumored to take over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, will be announced soon.
Most of us have been enamored of Leverkusen’s high-pressing style that looked to achieve turnovers deep in the opponent’s third of the field. It is a visually exciting style that demands complete commitment and a great deal of stamina from the Werkself players, and should result in boatloads of Leverkusen goals.
But that has not happened this season. The suspension of Hakan Calhanoglu for the remainder of this season, the lengthy injury absence of Karim Bellarabi and the current sidelining of central defender Jonathan Tah have created too many defensive lapses and not enough quality in attack for Schmidt’s style to be successful. It has been my thought that even a few short-term injury/suspension absences seem to derail Leverkusen more than any other Bundesliga Champions League squad, despite the depth of the club’s roster, particularly on the attacking end. Why this is true, I am not sure, but perhaps the teamwork needed to implement Schmidt’s tactics requires a more exacting level of teamwork, and that the absence of one or two players, even when ably replaced, seems to throw Leverkusen’s attacking flow into the dumpster.
I like what Roger Schmidt brought to Leverkusen and the league. I personally saw his kindness and generosity of spirit shared with youngsters at the Florida Cup this January. I never saw any signs of squad discontent evident at the three Florida trips the club has made the last three January training camps and will continue to root for Schmidt’s success. But in many senses, I can see that circumstances demanded a change on the sidelines for Die Werkself, and unfortunately, that is modern football.