Massive Shake-Up At Schalke As Manager, Sporting Staff Fired

Christian Gross arrived at the Veltins-Arena nine weeks ago with one seemingly impossible task: keep Schalke in the Bundesliga.

He became the fourth manager of the season in the midst of a stretch that saw the team go without a league win for over a year. Huub Stevens had taken over before Christmas on an interim basis for a fourth turn at the helm of Schalke after Manuel Baum's three-month tenure brought six defeats and four draws. Before Baum was former USMNT player David Wagner, who spent 15 months in charge and on whose watch the winless streak began. 

Sporting director Jochen Schneider said of Gross to the club website upon his arrival, "For Schalke 04, the next five months will be all about managing to stay in the Bundesliga. Christian Gross has shown in both Germany and England that he can successfully take on challenges like this. He will give the team clear instructions and will set us on the right path with his unwavering expectations. We are sure of that." 

Gross and Schalke did finally manage to win a Bundesliga game at a time when a defeat would have seen it equal the league's longest winless streak of 31 games, held by Tasmania Berlin. Just two months after Schneider's introduction, though, both he and Gross are out of a job. 

"On Sunday, Schalke 04 dismissed head coach Christian Gross and his assistant Rainer Widmayer," the club announced on its website. Assistant manager and ex-Royal Blues player Sascha Riether was released as well, along with Schneider and head of performance Werner Leuthard.

Schalke remains rooted to the bottom of the table and will now become the first club in Bundesliga history to be led by five different coaches in the course of a single season. 

Gross admitted following a draw with Union Berlin earlier this month that "it's clear that we don't have much time left" in the battle against the drop. The next two results ensured a premature end to Gross' effort to save the Miners. A 4-0 derby defeat to rivals Borussia Dortmund was followed by a resounding 5-1 loss to Stuttgart.

The arrivals late in the transfer window of Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi have evidently done little to help the struggling Schalke backline — the Bundesliga's most porous, with 61 goals conceded so far. In fact, reports from Germany — which have been denied by the club — state that the new arrivals from Arsenal led a "player revolt" against manager Gross.

The utter chaos which has engulfed Schalke from the top down has all but ensured the storied club's first relegation since 1988. The past few seasons have seen Schalke sign a number of players who have failed to have an impact on the club, and earlier this year Vedad Ibišević was released after having only joined in the summer. In addition, Nabil Bentaleb was suspended by the club as it announced the ex-Spurs man would depart no later than summer 2021. 

The Royal Blues next take on Mainz, one place above in 17th, though eight points ahead.

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