The chaos at FC Schalke 04 is getting bigger and bigger. Two players are suspended, a new addition has to go. In addition, there is the separation from the squad planner. Only the fans are still fighting. Schalke, what just ruined you?
A walk on the Schalke Meile, that would be something. Just walk past frit smiths and drinking halls. Just lift your eyes and see the 1000 fires. The grate of the old mines. Just feel the past and present of the city. The city of Gelsenkirchen, which has been hard at work for decades, and which has fought for a good future. Despite all the hard setbacks. For many people in Germany (most of them were certainly not there), the city has become a synonym for sadness and high unemployment. A synonym for left behind and given up. A stroll over this Schalke Mile would be something for footballers like Nabil Bentaleb and Amine Harit.
The Schalker Meile, because it also stands for another Gelsenkirchen. Despite the irreversible traces of the hard past. The mile where cars drive to the left and right, the tram in the middle, represents the passion of the city, for pride. The pride of FC Schalke 04, their FC Schalke 04. The street, it is a blue and white open-air museum. A place of pilgrimage for the fans. The walk to the stadium is celebrated here. Here you can get Weg beer, currywurst and schnitzel. For decades. Only this year hardly or not at all. And that is by no means due to the never-ending sporting horror of the team of 24 league games without a win (!). This is mainly due to the corona pandemic, which is preventing people from going to the stadium.
Because despite a phase that no FC Schalke 04 footballer had ever experienced before, the supporters would come. They would suffer, they would whistle, they would scold. But they would fight. Probably no club in Germany, not even the neighboring BVB, has built such a deep and crisis-proof connection to its fans over 116 years as the Gelsenkirchen team. All the more it will bring each and every one of them to an inner escalation if the dearly paid players do not indulge themselves absolutely in this club. Just as Harit and Bentaleb are accused of. You are now suspended.
“Schalke is dead, I don’t want to live there either”
How excessive and in parts also dramatically exaggerated this love for Schalke is told by a sad story from 1981. Schalke will play against 1. FC Nürnberg on matchday 32 at home. After the 1: 1 the situation is almost hopeless. It’s almost decided: The Royal Blues will have to go down to the second division. That’s too much for an 18-year-old trailer. In his desperation, he throws himself from a bridge onto the tram tracks right at the Park Stadium. He dies the next day. The police found a note in his jacket pocket: “Schalke is dead, I don’t want to live there either.”
The club’s identity is the fans. You wear the pride. FC Schalke 04 is simply inconceivable without its supporters. And that is exactly what makes the situation so dramatic at the moment. At Ernst-Kuzorra-Weg 1 on Berger Feld, they are working almost undisturbed these days. There is no strong corrective, no strong veteran, no strong real Schalke, who washes the heads of the gentlemen managing directors around the ailing sports director Jochen Schneider. And there are also no fans, no training ground retirees who call the grievances by name with their honest snouts.
When Schalke actually relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in 1981, it was a disaster for this club. At that time there was an anchor, a face inward and outward, the unicum Charly Neumann. Every royal blue still knows the pictures from Kaiserslautern’s Betzenberg when Neumann was petted and cuddled by ex-Schalke Hannes “Spargeltarzan” Bongartz after his final descent. Charly stammered through tears: “I would never have believed it!” Then he stretched his arms pleadingly towards the sky, took a young Schalke in his strong arm, who unrestrainedly pressed all the misery in the world out of his eyes, and preached loudly and with conviction: “We will rise again, we will not go under!” Pure feelings. Whether real or a little staged – it doesn’t matter!
“Clemens, take care of Schalke!”
Exactly these emotions are missing at Schalke at the moment. You may not imagine that the Royal Blues will actually have to move into the second division for the fourth time, but what would be even worse than relegation: This time it would be a farewell without much drama. The fans, who would make this decline into a real tragedy, are not allowed into the stadium, not for training, not even on the mile, where their bars and restaurants are in lockdown. You suffer at home. Quiet.
The bitter irony of this tragedy is exaggerated by the fact that in the summer it was the fans of all people who chased a longstanding leader out of the house. Whether, deep down, Clemens Tönnies always had only the welfare of the club in mind is at least doubtful. The reasons for his forced departure were overwhelming, but Tönnies had an emotional bond with the club. His brother Bernd, who was still only thinking about the club in the hospital (“I’ve already recruited a good dozen new Schalke members. I immediately told the doctors: Nobody is allowed to put a hand on me here if they don’t sign up immediately signs. That worked “), Clemens is said to have said in his last conversation on his deathbed:” Take care of Schalke! ” And that’s what he did from then on.
But it was also Clemens Tönnies who played a key role in the resignation of the last great figure of identification, Rudi Assauer. Tönnies almost single-handedly filled the vacuum that Assauer left behind after his resignation in 2006. Now, after the meat producer from Rheda-Wiedenbrück left the club, the royal blues have a huge gap. And this emptiness is brutal. Because even if the club is not leaderless in the classic sense, it is still on the verge of an exodus. Because much worse than a club without a leader is a club that has to survive on the rough seas of the Bundesliga without a felt or experienced identity. This plan can really only go wrong.
Don’t keep the ashes, pass the fire on
Someone who knows what this club lacks most in these sad days is the native Schalke (“born on Gelsenkirchen coal”) Olivier Kruschinski: “For many years I have been working with head, heart and hand to prevent them Ashes are preserved, but the fire is passed on. True to the motto ‘Only those who know the past can understand the present’ “. Men like Kruschinski know the club and the city inside out. They know that football at Schalke is much more than just a pastime. For the Gelsenkircheners, their club was and is the purpose of life. Olivier Kruschinski regularly brings this special Schalke feeling to life on his legendary “Mythos Tours”.
That special Schalke feeling. It connects. Even the grandma always knew everything. Most of the time the phone call started with the line-up, goals and results, only then was the question: “Un ‘sons’ so boy, how is it?” “Oh, I have to.” There was a schnapps, whether in victory or defeat. Good luck for.
Sky made a promotional video five years ago. At the oldest fan club in Germany. Of course the clip is staged. Trimmed for emotions. 80- and 90-year-olds who make the pilgrimage to the old venue with the rollator, share their passionate memories, their pride. This clip conveys the realities of Schalke life. Anyone who knows an old Schalke player knows: Isso! Really. Old Schalke players, most of the club’s footballers don’t know them. At best, you know the curve, the force and the anger it can develop. Without this corrective, the team breaks into a sea of egoists. When was the last time there was a gathering of eleven players who are so busy with themselves, who quarrel, curse and dismiss. That surrender instead of fighting. Who, with all willingness, let themselves be infected by the chief egoists.
Bentaleb and Harit are out. They were disrespectful to the coach Manuel Baum. Vedad Ibisevic also had no future. The 36-year-old striker should do this at least in the short term. As a fighter on the field, as a leader next to it. As a bridge for a new generation that should grow from the young team in the face of the existentially threatening financial situation (if relegation threatens the worst case scenario). Had to grow. Releases are currently difficult for the club to cope with, salaries may no longer exceed a limit of around 2.5 million euros (it is said). More than ever, more than with the relegations, the Schalke team are challenged to defend themselves with their values, their passion, their pride.
After the turbulence of the past few weeks, which began with the anger interview by Mark Uth and the two suspensions and two layoffs (in addition to Ibisevic, squad planner Michael Reschke also has to leave), coach Baum has announced a new line: “All that matters is eleven To get players on the field who fill the whole thing with heart and soul, “he said:” If at the end of the day there are many from the U19 or U23, then it will be so. ” It finally sounds like “Get up if you’re Schalke.” And the fans are getting up again. Some groups announced their displeasure with banners on Thursday. “Shameful public image, haphazard board and characterless team. The result of your years of mismanagement” and “One thing is certain, you will see: we will not let our club go under without a fight!”
The influential Supporters Club fan club wrote to the footballer in an open letter that “you can no longer watch in silence” “as you are driving our club to death!” The demand in view of the sporting horror: “Tear yourselves apart on the square for the royal blue colors, fight until you are completely exhausted!” In the last few months the team had “all missed” these virtues, “you surrender to self-pity and egoism”. Another video was released on Friday. From fans. For the players. Emotional, not reproachful. Motivating, not accusatory.
It is the last fight of Schalke. The fight against “luck out”.