January 2, 2021 11:33:41 am
Schalke won exactly one Bundesliga game in 2020, so its New Year’s resolutions are clear.
The German club, now on its fourth coach of the season, is desperate to end a 29-game winless run and dreams of avoiding relegation.
Its resolve will be tested Saturday when it visits Hertha Berlin, which has just one victory in its last six games.
Should Schalke fail to win in the German capital, possible ignominy awaits when it hosts Hoffenheim a week later. Tasmania Berlin holds the Bundesliga record of 31 games without a win from the 1965-66 season.
“Schalke will desperately want to end their negative run, but that’s not for us to discuss,” Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia said midweek.
“It’s important to be positive and play without the fear of defeat.”
Schalke’s last victory in the German top tier was Jan. 17 last year, when it beat Borussia M�nchengladbach 2-0.
When Schalke sporting director Jochen Schneider held the same post at Stuttgart, he hired Swiss coach Christian Gross halfway through the 2009-10 season with the team struggling. Stuttgart went on a run and finished sixth.
Gross is now on board with Schalke. Hired last week, he’s the fourth coach of the season after David Wagner, Manuel Baum and Huub Stevens.
“It’s about getting ourselves out of this situation together,” Gross said Wednesday. “Everyone has to be ready to give everything and to fight for the team.”
Schneider said the next five months will be about “managing to stay in the Bundesliga.”
Schalke is in last place with just four points after 13 rounds.
Schalke has added defender Sead Kolasinac from Arsenal, but the loan won’t take effect until Monday.
Former midfielder Gross had said in May that he was retiring from coaching. His third stint at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli ended in February. He also coached Cairo-based Zamalek in Egypt. His last coaching job in Europe was at Swiss side Young Boys in 2012. He coached Tottenham in 1997-98.
“Christian Gross is experienced and knows where he wants to improve the team,” Labbadia said. “I expect a hotly contested match because both teams need to win.”
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