From a Bundesliga staple to the worst team in the 2020/21 German Bundesliga season, it has been an earth-shattering descent for Schalke 04. culminating in the club’s demotion to 2. Bundesliga.
Two avoidable factors have contributed to Schalke 04’s current predicament, firstly their inability to produce consistent attacking returns. Not a single Schalke player has produced more than five league goals throughout the campaign so far. 19 year-old youngster, Mathew Hoppe, who coincidentally made his first team debut in November, remains their highest scorer with 5 goals in 19 Bundesliga games. Secondly and arguably more importantly, Schalke’s ability to concede goals at an abysmal, sometimes astonishing manner have resulted in the unescapable reality of relegation. They’ve conceded a staggering 80 goals in just 31 matches, with a goal differential of -60.
Their inability to maintain a stable managerial tenure this season is another reason for their failings, with new manager Dimitrios Grammozis appointed on 2nd of March 2021 as their fourth manager of the season. Schalke’s January transfer dealings have also proved to be shambolic, as the defensive acquisition of former fan favourite Sead Kolasinac and German World Cup winner Shkrodan Mustafi from Arsenal have failed to stop the defensive frailties that have characterized their season. Since the arrival of the two Arsenal men and the departure of Ozan Kabak, it could be argued things have gotten even worse for the Royal Blues.
Schalke 04 have a rich history in European football, and spent 30 consecutive years in the Bundesliga. They won the UEFA Cup against Inter Milan in 1996-97, and made it to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League on numerous occasions since the turn of the century. How things have taken such a disastrous turn is a bit unclear, but it is certainly one of the most devastating relegations the league has ever witnessed.
As for the 2. Bundesliga, Schalke have flirted with promotion and relegation in the distant past, particularly in the early 80s. Although signing Simon Terodde was a signal of intent, the fact that Schalke have only won two games this season may speak volumes about their chances of coming straight back up to the big time next season. The club may also witness a mass exodus this summer, with the likes of Mark Uth and Sebastian Rudy touted to return to 1899 Hoffenheim. Amine Harit and Suat Serdar have also been linked with moves away, having performed decently well throughout a tough season for the club. The Royal Blues will certainly need to turn their attention toward the transfer market for new additions, particularly in searching for 2. Bundesliga talents who understand the league and know what it takes to fight for promotion.
From German top-flight dominance in 1933-1945, winning eleven German league championships and appearing in fourteen of a possible eighteen national finals, Schalke have fallen from grace this season. One can only sadly whisper these words ”Oh. How the mighty have indeed fallen.”