Thomas Reis tried not to appear annoyed. The 3-1 defeat at FC St. Pauli had already taken its toll on the FC Schalke 04 coach. Now the 49-year-old had to answer questions about the more or less open criticism of his defense chief Timo Baumgartl in the press conference after the second division game in Hamburg. The 27-year-old had expressed doubts about Reis’s tactics just minutes earlier in an interview with the pay TV channel Sky. On the one hand, he hadn’t seen the interview, replied the trainer. “On the other hand, I am the first to touch my own nose. And I expect the same from my players,” he added with a hint of irritation.
Baumgartl had doubted the tactics given by his coach with the man-oriented game. “Sometimes we run after men, then there are positions on top of each other – there is no compactness. That’s our big problem,” criticized the former Bundesliga professional from VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Union Berlin. “We are always a step too late.” The risky style of play is “the coach’s philosophy, he tells us that and that’s why we do it as a team,” added Baumgartl.
15 goals conceded is “madness”
Things were a bit better in the second half against FC St. Pauli, “but of course we are also playing with fire. If you come a step too late, it’s brutal to defend,” said the central defender and spoke of a “risky thing”. “And then it just happens that you keep conceding goals. That’s simply a fact because you can’t defend everything.” Reis gives them a plan, “but it’s also difficult for us to see it that way and do it that way. Because of course we keep running into these situations,” said Baumgartl. In training you work on these things “meticulously” with the coach, but conceding 15 goals after seven games is “crazy”.
Reis cannot understand the criticism that he plays too man-oriented. He saw the duel in Hamburg as proof. “As soon as we were active, as soon as we played more man-oriented, we won the duels and prevented Pauli from building up the game well,” he emphasized. As soon as the players fell into passivity, they ran after the opponents.
The club punished Baumgartl on Sunday. The player was transferred to the U23s for the training week starting on Monday and the central defender also has to pay a fine. The amount of the fine was not disclosed. According to the club, Baumgartl accepted the sanctions. In a conversation with sports director Andre Hechelmann and coach Reis, he was accused of violating internal rules of conduct.
“I’m the first to touch my own nose”: Schalke coach Thomas Reis : Image: dpa
“The sporting management and the coaching team are always ready for a constructive and critical dialogue with the team, as the past few weeks have shown. The prerequisite for this is that this takes place internally – because only then can it be solution-oriented,” said Hechelmann. Baumgartl “showed himself to be insightful in the conversation, admitted his mistake right at the beginning and asked for an apology. We accepted this,” said Hechelmann.
What he triggered with his statements was not my intention and should not happen to a player with my experience. That’s why I asked Thomas Reis and Andre Hechelmann to apologize and I’m very happy that they accepted it. I know that I am now challenged,” Baumgartl was quoted as saying by the Royal Blues.
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The dispute between coach and defense organizer fits into the overall picture of Royal Blue and shows a difficult relationship between Reis and the team. After relegation from the Bundesliga, the personnel upheaval was enormous. The people of Gelsenkirchen are far from unity. The unrest is growing. Schalke believed they were on the right track after a draw (1-1 in Wiesbaden) and a win (4-3 against Magdeburg).
After the seventh matchday they are now six points behind the promotion relegation place and in the bottom of the table. Only the last team, VfL Osnabrück (18 goals conceded), had conceded more goals than the traditional club before Sunday’s games. In their last second division season two years ago, Schalke were in eleventh place in the table after seven match days and were three points clear of third place. At the end of the season there was promotion.
Sports director André Hechelmann is still publicly supporting his coach. One thing is certain: the games will be on Friday (6:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the 2nd Bundesliga and on Sky) at SC Paderborn and on October 8th (1:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the 2nd Bundesliga and on Sky) against co-relegated Hertha BSC be groundbreaking for the club and Reis. “We don’t need to look up. We have seven points,” says the coach. “We have to bake smaller rolls.”