Gelsenkirchen (AP) – The series of failures is getting longer, desperation in the fight against relegation is growing: only the home game against rival Arminia Bielefeld remains for FC Schalke 04 to start a course correction in the Bundesliga before Christmas.

Completely frustrated, Manuel Baum reacted to the next setback and the weak performance in the 2-0 draw against SC Freiburg. “We are incredibly disappointed,” said the coach, announcing a work-up. “We will definitely have to talk about the game.”

But the words of the 41-year-old football player seem unheard. Otherwise, the indisputable performance against the not overwhelming Breisgauer can hardly be explained. After the encouraging 2-2 in Augsburg, the sixth bankruptcy in the tenth game under Baum was a step backwards in terms of play and fighting. “When you talk to the players, you always feel like they understand,” the coach said desperately. They are paralyzed in the square.

Vulnerable on defense, ineffective on offense – Schalke is not ready for the Bundesliga in any part of the team. Baum’s plan “that with Rabbi Matondo and Benito Raman we have fast players on the flanks and get behind the triple defense” did not work. “In defense, we wanted to be compact and have a moment of change. That didn’t work at all,” the coach admitted. “In the offensive we were too harmless for the entire game in the last third. Then you have to defend your own goal in any case.”

But even an opening pass from Vincenzo Grifo was enough to get around the defense, which was stable only half the time. With his double strike in the 50th and 68th minutes, Roland Sallai gave the Royal Blues the knockout blow. “After admitting we struggled extremely hard. We have to work on our problems and improve,” said Schalke captain Omar Mascarell.

Four points after twelve match days, 8:35 goals are a terrible result. Only eight teams in Bundesliga history had four or fewer points at this point, only Hamburger SV managed to stay in its class in the 2016/17 season.

Baum is now a much sought-after psychologist. The game against Bielefeld on Saturday has the character of a final. Until then, he has to get the troubled team back on its feet. His own fate is not important to Baum, nor are the statistics that he was the first Schalke coach to fail to win the first ten Bundesliga matches. “I don’t care. The main thing is that Schalke will play in the Bundesliga next year. I will keep moving forward. I am a servant of the club.”

It is not guaranteed that a new coach change will have an effect. The team simply lacks quality when top performers such as Mark Uth also fail. He is in good contact with the also criticized sports director Jochen Schneider regarding the selection of the team, says Baum. But the club can hardly afford major reinforcements in the coming transfer period. “We also know that the financial situation is not so rosy. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll get it done together with the team,” said Baum.

So there is only hope for a liberation against Bielefeld and a winning streak in the new year. If that fails, the relegation scenario will become increasingly realistic. “We have to win on Saturday, then the mistakes we made today cannot happen to us,” said Mascarell. “We’re not giving up.”

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