FChristian Heidel is silent for a moment and enjoys the effect of his answer. Someone wants to know from the manager of FC Schalke 04, how great is the backing for coach Domenico Tedesco after the bad start of the season, Heidel replies: "Zero!" Then he looks amused into the baffled faces of his audience, before he some enlightening sentences appends. "Backing needs someone who is counted or uncertain for whatever reason," says Heidel, Tedesco said such supportive measures had never been necessary. This unconditional cohesion is perhaps one of the key reasons that FC Schalke 04 is recovering more and more.
On Tuesday evening, the district club in the match against Galatasaray Istanbul (21.00 clock in the FAZ live ticker for Champions League and Sky) the door to the knockout stages of the Champions League wide open, in the DFB Cup, the Schalke have reached the round of the last 16 teams , and in the Bundesliga they have recently collected ten points in five games. The trend is right, but many questions remain unanswered.
What are the reasons for the weak start of the season with five defeats in the Bundesliga? Why does the intent to play a faster-paced, more attractive football put the team in such serious trouble? Is Schalke with his squad actually a club that belongs to the four strongest teams in the league? These are questions that do not only concern the work of the trainer, Heidel is responsible for the management planning. Does his transfers possibly lack the required quality? A newspaper has recently calculated that only seven of the 23 players that the sports director has signed up to in his two-and-a-half years at Schalke will undoubtedly make the team better. Or is it the coach who does not exhaust the potential?
There are no coach change rituals anymore
All these considerations may be relevant, at FC Schalke in the year 2018 they can no longer be assigned to individual persons. Heidel and Tedesco form a coach-manager symbiosis, as they are rare in the league. He had "no doubt about him for a single second," said Heidel in an interview with the "kicker" about Tedesco, "I made that very clear to him, because I felt that it was important to him to know that Schalke from nobody disputes with the persons involved ".
The old coaching change rituals, which belonged to folklore at this location for decades, no longer exist. This not only ensures peace in the environment, it has established a new culture of communication. Journalists are no longer understood as hostile troublemakers, but as people who can be persuaded with arguments as well as the players. Thus, the once-feverish atmosphere in this club has changed fundamentally.
Again and again, there are situations in which Heidel and Tedesco mix for long talks about tactical subtleties, about individual players and football in general among the journalists. The club legend Klaus Fischer criticized Tedesco recently in an interview with the "Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung" massively, "my world is no more, this is not my football, only long balls from the defense to beat forward and then run after," says the 68-year-old. The coach responds to such statements not emotionally, but with technical arguments. "When we talk about detail, let's talk about it: how does it work?" Says Tedesco, explaining in detail how to crack opponents who play man-covering across the field. Or teams that base their strategy on midfield conquests.
He gives insights into his reflections, admits when something has not worked so well, and asks his listeners about their ideas and impressions. When 0: 0 in Leipzig, where otherwise lose all teams, he had intentionally renounced a constructive game structure to create the criticized by Klaus-Fischer midfielder chaos. With success. In other games, such as in Istanbul, where he aspires to a lot of possession, but missing "repeatedly the last pass," he says, "by a bad decision, by a bad last contact we often hang". Here lies the reason that Schalke scored so few goals that it rarely becomes spectacular when this team is on the pitch. "We just have to deal with the situation of being a favorite in almost every game," says Tedesco. "It's a maturing process that starts in the minds of the players, so we have to show even more character strength."
Of course, one can disagree with all these considerations, but the clarity and openness with which one argues and hears has changed Schalke 04. Under Tedesco's taciturn predecessor, Markus Weinzierl, things were different. Over the past few months, the trust between coach and manager and the openness that has been made possible have now become a characteristic of this club. For a young football teacher, there can hardly be a better environment to grow.
Probably it is no coincidence that Jürgen Klopp (today Liverpool FC) and Thomas Tuchel (Paris St. Germain) in Mainz were also by the influence of Heidel to great Champions League coaches. If this manager is convinced of the quality of a coach, then he leaves no doubt even in bad phases. "We have extended with Domenico in summer to 2022, because we are all convinced that there is no better coach for Schalke than him," says the sports director. "It's often said clubs would drop their coaches too fast, more clearly, as we did that internally, you can not be a coach."