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The big mistake with Dimitrios Grammozis

FC Schalke 04 no longer believed that Dimitrios Grammozis would be able to get promoted back to the Bundesliga. The sacking of the coach is consistent, but also raises the question of whether the club was ever really convinced of him.

A cross from the (left) side, a goal by Simon Terodde. This is how FC Schalke 04 plays football. This extremely limited view of his tactical master plan became coach Dimitrios Grammozis’ sporting undoing on Sunday, after a 3:4 home defeat against the relegation candidate Hansa Rostock, which was rated as very embarrassing.

The native of Wuppertal was relieved of responsibility by the club authorities in order to still achieve the goal for the season. That means: immediate return to the Bundesliga. It was said offensively in the message about the coach’s end. That, i.e. the clarity of the goals, was not always the case.

“We are still convinced of the quality of the squad. But in order to be successful in the fight for the top positions, we need continuous development, which we discussed but didn’t see,” said sports director Peter Knäbel in the announcement on the coach’s release .

“We were no longer convinced that our target, given the current constellation, still had a sufficiently high probability,” added sporting director Rouven Schröder.

FC Schalke 04 are missing Gazprom millions

A return to the upper house would not only be extremely important from a sporting point of view, but also financially – above all because the millions in payments from long-term sponsor Gazprom will not materialise.

The Russian state-owned company has been the most important financier of the traditional club, which has liabilities of around 200 million euros, since 2007. As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Schalke 04 ended the cooperation. The Gelsenkirchen-based company quickly presented a new financier and sponsor in the housing company Vivawest. But the revenues from the “temporary partnership” are likely to be well below those of the Gazprom era.

The news of Grammozis’ dismissal is anything but a surprise. In his entire time with the “Royal Blues” he was a coach who actually could never win. Although he had achieved something in the past few days that sounds almost epic by the (younger) Schalke standards, he had held office for a year, but above all he was a man who did not eliminate the constant doubts about his work could. Not on the way to the 2nd league, which he can hardly be blamed for.

Not in this season, which should just end with the direct resurgence. With this coach, the Gelsenkirchener never got peace in the club. Not during Major League Horror, not in Project Rebuild.

FC Schalke 04 frighteningly haphazard

The fact that Grammozis has to give way after this 25th matchday is a problem with the announcement. The burden of the crash weighed too heavily on his shoulders.

Even if he was much less responsible for the football misfortune than his four desperate predecessors and the sporting management, who had handed him a squad as chaos that could not be sorted. In hindsight, many things are easier to question.

Did it really make sense to hire a coach who had to bridge the gap between horror and hope? Wouldn’t a complete restart on all levels have made much more sense? Just as he had succeeded with Schröder in the relevant position of sports director and squad builder?

At the beginning of March 2022 you have to say: Yes, it would have been better. But unloading the sole blame for the sporting situation on Grammozis would be too easy. What’s true: For weeks, the team has (much) made too little of the opportunities that this squad seems to give. An establishing and evolving idea of ​​the trainer could not be seen on the field. His footballers were neither dominant nor did they rely on quick switching games.

Schalke seemed too hesitant and unorganized at crucial moments. How the goals conceded against Rostock were frightening. Frighteningly haphazard.

Hardly any dreams of promotion at FC Schalke 04

But what is also part of the truth: Schalke never actually made it possible for their coach to get out of their position of weakness after relegation.

Grammozis was already counted in the summer. He had lost the fans’ trust, there was no improvement, no change compared to his predecessors. After taking office on July 1, 2022, Schröder is said to have had doubts as to whether the trainer was the right one for the difficult mission.

The fact that the name of the emotional T-shirt trainer Steffen Baumgart was always haunted by the orphaned pits of the working-class city and fueled wild fantasies did not strengthen Grammozis’ position.

The 43-year-old only had a moment of strength, not invulnerability, during his time with the Royal Blues, on January 22 of this year. With 5: 0 Schalke had rushed over an overwhelmed opponent in the miner’s duel at Erzgebirge Aue. New signing Andreas Vindheim, who scored one goal himself and prepared three more, let the best dreams of promotion mature that evening.

But (much too) quickly they burst again. That is the marmot story of FC Schalke 04. Instead of the great liberation, there were tough victories against Regensburg (2:1) and Paderborn (2:0), a terrible performance against Düsseldorf (1:2), a bitter draw against Karlsruhe ( 1:1), when Marvin Pieringer missed a mega chance to win in stoppage time, and the embarrassment against Hansa Rostock.

FC Schalke 04 needs “consistency”

“The team has lacked the necessary consistency since the beginning of the year, both in terms of the result and in particular the central performance parameters,” said Sport Director Peter Knäbel, who had pushed through the opportunity for Grammozis to rebuild the team in the summer: “It’s It is precisely this consistency that teams that want to move up need.”

And it’s also a plan B that a team always needs when the preferred tactical approach doesn’t work. After the games, the coach was often able to explain what wasn’t good and what could have been done better. He was always able to explain controversial and failed personnel decisions somehow.

But despite all the announcements that there was progress after international game breaks or the winter break, there were hardly any further developments. After successfully stabilizing the team after a weak start to the season, Grammozis never reached the next level that would have been important for Schalke’s success.

A new man should now quickly secure him. Who will it be? Still unclear, but it may already be presented this Monday. The rumors range from Friedhelm Funkel and Uwe Neuhaus to Daniel Farke, who only stopped a few days ago in Krasnodar as a reaction to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

The mission for the new man is clearly defined: lead Schalke to promotion. Nine game days remain for this, nine game days in which the top four of the league, i.e. Werder Bremen, SV Darmstadt 98, FC St. Pauli and 1. FC Nuremberg are still up against. Goals from Simon Terodde are welcome, but even more in Plan B.

Tobias Nordmann

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