Längenfeld (dpa) – The series of problems at FC Schalke 04 does not end, even in the training camp in Längenfeld, Austria.
In an interview with the German news agency, sports director Jochen Schneider in the Ötztal speaks about the possible return of fans, the goals of the club and the pressure on coach David Wagner.
The return of fans to Bundesliga stadiums is a hot topic. What do you think about this and what significance would it have for Schalke?
Jochen Schneider: The return of the fans is of enormous importance for football as a whole and of course for Schalke 04 with the special atmosphere in the Veltins-Arena in particular. It is good that football is being played again. But at some point you have to force yourself to watch the games, because the atmosphere is simply missing. Even if you have the privilege of being part of the ghost games in quotes, it’s not really fun. So I hope that, in consultation with the authorities and if the contamination rate allows, we can get the spectators back to the arenas as soon as possible. Limited, of course. And that we can then gradually increase the number with the right experience.
As a club you have to calculate whether only a certain number of spectators can see whether it pays off. Would Schalke also accept losses?
Schneider: Yes, of course. Simply because football is not really fun without fans. Every spectator in our Veltins Arena is great. If we start with a relatively small number and are allowed to increase that gradually, that can certainly be a good rule.
Schalke’s coaching legend and commissioner Huub Stevens has suggested not spending a season goal for now, so as not to give the players an alibi or too much pressure. Do you see it the same way?
Schneider: I see it the same way. Of course we have goals, but you don’t have to record the goals exclusively in a specific place in the table. The goal is that we show competitive football again, that we play successfully and that we regain the qualities that are in our team and that we showed especially in the first seven months of last season.
If you look at the table, do you have to say that Europe will not be a problem for Schalke in the coming years?
Schneider: Football is a dynamic sport, things are changing in both directions. Why give up the leagues you can reach for years? I do not think so. It is true that we no longer link our budget planning to reaching the European Cup. It’s about economic common sense. This commercial decision is the only correct one in our current situation. But of course we want to achieve a sporting development so that we can play more attractive and successful football again.
You have a great opening schedule with away games in Munich, Leipzig and Dortmund – to what extent are you worried that David Wagner will come under tremendous pressure?
Schneider: The Bundesliga is always busy. Let’s play the games first. Then of course it depends on the results, but also on the way we perform. I look forward to the new season. If our team is fit and stable and has saved major injuries, then we have a good team. Obviously the focus is on Schalke, but not just David Wagner, but all of us, the coach is never alone. We already know we have to perform – with performance and results.
You have always been behind David Wagner.
Schneider: Of course. And I will continue to do so. We work together with confidence, we give everything for Schalke 04 every day. We are a team. And I support him 100 percent. It is important that we judge the situation rationally and do not let ourselves be guided by the emotions and headlines. But watch things get done and things go in the right direction. That is the point. If we get nervous about every head, we’re in the wrong position. We must act with conviction. David Wagner is the right coach for Schalke 04.
About the person: At the end of February 2019, Jochen Schneider (49) became sports director and successor to Christian Heidel at Bundesliga football club FC Schalke 04. Before that, he was team coordinator at RB Leipzig. Schneider gained his first experience from 1999 to 2017 in the management of VfB Stuttgart.