With 10 points after five rounds, Schalke 04 is one of the 2019-20 season surprises, and behind the success is coach David Wagner.
The former Huddersfield Town manager understood he needs not only to focus on the team’s development on the pitch, but to ease the troubled relationship between squad and supporters.
“It is great to see the people back at our side. Hardly any fan-group has a similar power as ours,” Wagner said, adding fans empathy has always been a matter of survival for the most emotional football clubs.
Board-member Jochen Schneider said the club was looking for a “positive type, a soul catcher able to light up the house next to his idea of passionate forwarding football.”
Located in a worker’s region having to deal with significant changes in its industrial fields, Schalke remain “a working side as hard work is the people’s daily life,” the former Premier League coach said.
Wagner admits to having been adjusting several screws regarding “our squad, the philosophy, and the player’s attitude.”
“We get on in small steps, but it is important to develop sustainably to get this great club back on the international stage,” the 47-year-old coach said.
It remains an ambitious goal to return to international competition, but “we want to get back within the next three years.”
On the way, Schalke slowly develops from a reacting team to an operating side. At present, not many get carried away due to the team’s performance, but progress is obvious. “In a city like that you can’t play cautious football,” Schneider emphasizes.
Wagner increased training loads and demanded “increasing runs and aggressivity.” At present Schalke is ranked fourth on team run and first on sprints in the league.
The club hasn’t yet overcome last season’s crisis when narrowly escaping relegation. The number of goals needs to be increased shortly. But Wagner’s main target remains the team’s unity.