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Schalke have gone from Germany’s ‘best of the rest’ to the brink of relegation in less than a year

Schalke finished eight points above Borussia Dortmund last season

The Champions League is supposed to be the creme de la creme.

So it is still embarrassing if you go out losing 7-0 in the last-16, even if it is to one of the favourites.

But should conceding seven away to Man City be enough to sack your young manager, who inspired the team to second in the Bundesliga less than 12 months ago?

It was all looking so good at 2-0 up in the first leg

Reuters
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It was all looking so good at 2-0 up in the first leg

In itself absolutely not, but when you look at the wider picture of Schalke’s season you can see why the drastic action was necessary.

It’s all a far cry from the jubilation in Gelsenkirchen last May when Schalke finished the season as Germany’s best of the rest, second in the league and a full eight points ahead of Dortmund.

Tedesco had been plucked out of obscurity to reignite Schalke and lead them to their first Champions League finish in three years.

So how, just under a year later, has the innovator been sacked and the club left teetering on the brink of relegation?

Mood

EPA
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Mood

In addition to their unceremonious removal from the Champions League, Schalke have lost six games in a row, they haven’t won in the league since Jan 20 and they find themselves in 15th spot in the table, just three points above the Bundesliga’s relegation play-off spot.

This season started off like a grenade going off in Tedesco’s face from the very beginning.

All the good feeling from last season instantly disappeared as the league campaign started with five straight defeats.

They managed a draw against Porto in the Champions League, but Schalke didn’t register a victory until the end of September, by which point they were bottom of the table.

They spent a lot of time getting the ball out of the net against City

Getty - Contributor
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They spent a lot of time getting the ball out of the net against City

Schalke’s rag tag mix of experienced heads and exciting youngsters were way off the form they showed last term, although admittedly the team had been torn apart in the summer.

Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka both left on a free in the summer, 36-year-old Naldo joind Monaco and Thilo Kehrer was sold to PSG for £33million.

They managed to steady the ship in the league with two wins in a row but they would only go on to win three points on five occassions before Christmas.

However, the players were saving their best performances for Europe, with three wins, two draws and a single defeat in the group stage.

Good times.

AP:Associated Press
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Good times.

But the catastrophic league form was becoming all-consuming as the season progressed.

A 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich in February was understandable but it sparked a downward spiral that may yet be unrecoverable.

Mainz 05 shocked everyone by hammering in three an unanswered goals, before that unthinkable defeat was followed up with yet another unthinkable defeat, going down 4-0 at home to Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Although the final act of Tedesco’s Schalke career came against Man City, the writing had been on the wall from the moment Fortuna scored their fourth goal.

Talk about fan favourite

Getty - Contributor
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Talk about fan favourite

And sacking Tedesco doesn’t appear to have made any instant impact when it comes to turning the fortunes around.

Interim coach Huub Stevens oversaw a 1-0 home defeat to RB Leipzig, compounded by Stuttgart closing the gap to just three points with a draw against Hoffenheim.

Then, topscorer Nabil Bentaleb (on six goals for the season) has been dropped to the U23s due to ‘disciplinary reasons’.

With eight games of the season left to play Stevens will hope that he isn’t the one to oversee Schalke’s first relegation since 1983.

There’s only three points separating Schalke and Stuttgart right now and the former is sinking like the Titanic.


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