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Schalke this season's surprise Bundesliga package

Wednesday 10th January 2018

Schalke 04 can enjoy the winter break. The Royal Blues trail only Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga table, looking down on Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Leverkusen and RB Leipzig. Die Konigsblauen finished last season on 43 points, good for tenth. With 17 games remaining in this campaign, Domenico Tedesco's side is just a baker's dozen from matching that mark. What has been behind the turnaround?

Managerial gamble pays off

Schalke took a real punt on Tedesco. The 32-year-old was previously an assistant and manager with Vfl Stuttgart U17s before taking charge of Hoffenheim's U19s, then Erzgebirge Aue. The Gelsenkirchen outfit lined him up to replace Markus Weinzierl at the Veltins-Arena. The decision has paid dividends..

Tedesco has already served up a defining moment, making the correct adjustments to reverse a 4-0 deficit to Dortmund at half-time, turning disaster into a 4-4 draw. He won the Bundesliga’s Man of Matchday 13 for the achievement and boasts a 55% win ratio as coach.

This is Schalke’s best start to a season since 2011/12 when Huub Stevens amassed 34 points from 17 games. That club sat third. It’s been 17 years since Schalke were in better position at this stage of the season. Its manager is rightly receiving the credit

Recruitment

Shrewd summer acquisitions certainly helped Tedesco's cause. Schalke lost many players over the summer. More than 10 were shown the door. Six went out on loan. In exchange, eight players were brought in with a net spend of £40 million. The new arrivals have played their part in Schalke’s success this season.

Sold: 

Felix Platte SV Darmnstadt £720k
Fabian Giefer Augsburg £675k

Left on free:

Sidney Sam Bochum Atsuto Uchida Union Berlin
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting Stoke Sead Kolasinac Arsenal
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Ajax Timon Wellenreuther Willem II
Dennis Aogo Stuttgart Phil Neumann Ingolstadt

Loaned out:

Benedikt Howedes Juventus Johannes Geis Sevilla
Coke Levante Haji Wright Sevilla
Bernard Tekpetey Rheindorf Altach Luke Hemmerich Bochum

Bought:

Nabil Bentaleb Tottenham £17.1 million
Yevhen Konoplyanka Sevilla £11.25 million
Amine Harit Nantes £7.2 million
Bastian Oczipka Eintracht Frankfurt £4.05 million
Pablo Insua Deportivo de La Coruña £3.15 million
Cedric Teuchert Nuremberg £900k

Loaned in:

Marko Pjaca Juventus

Signed on a free:

Michael Langer Norrköping

 

Second to only Bayern Munich, Schalke have lost just three games from 17 in the league, boasting the second-best defence in the top seven. Bastian Oczipka has replaced Sead Kolasinac, and he’s one of many who has impressed in his debut season. New-boy Nabil Bentaleb scored three goals in his first six games. Yehven Konoplyanka has made four assists in his last five appearances. Amine Harit has contributed eight league goals. 

The kids are alright

The new arrivals are playing their part in a fast start to the campaign, but the existing youngsters also deserve thanks. Schalke’s average age is 25, with ten players younger.

Leon Goretzka, 22, has been making waves on the wider stage. The midfielder has been linked with Liverpool, Arsenal, and Bayern Munich. Max Meyer and Breel Embolo have also been tipped for moves after stellar play.

There’s still a long way to go but Schalke have a real opportunity to get back into the Champions League for the first time since 2014/15.  

Eleven points off Bayern, the Royal Blues are unlikely to win a first title in 50 years but Tedesco just arrived. Give it time.

Crippy Cooke

Crippy is a long-suffering Aston Villa supporter and weekly football accumulator enthusiast.

Stealing a living, the balding 27-year-old boasts a wealth of writing experience - Telegraph, Independent, Huffington Post, Zoo Magazine, Daily Mail, ITV Football, MSN Sport, Yahoo Sport, London 24 and Bleacher Report.


Total articles: 318

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