David Wagner: Stick to our principles regardless of opponent

The 2019/20 season is almost upon us, as the Royal Blues prepare for Saturday’s DFB-Pokal clash against SV Drochtersen/Assel (15:30 CEST). Head coach David Wagner shares his thoughts ahead to match at the fourth-tier club.

“The mood if full of anticipation. We are all really excited to get going,” Wagner told reporters ahead of his competitive debut in the S04 dugout. The 47-year-old head coach has been happy with his team’s preparations this summer. “Not everything will work straight away, for sure, but I believe my players are making good progress,” he told.

The team is open to the coaching team’s ideas and have shown complete willingness to continue working on them. “I told them all that it’s okay to make mistakes,” the former USA international emphasised. “It’s absolutely not a problem when we learn from these quickly, so that nobody can ever accuse us of not having the drive and determination to address the issues.”

Wagner justifies captaincy decision

Wagner also explained his decision to hand Alexander Nübel the captain’s armband, as well as naming Benjamin Stambouli and Omar Mascarell as vice-captains. “Social skills are very important for me. Furthermore, you should also be recognisable within the club,” explains the head coach, who saw many suitable candidates for the role. “I consciously chose to share the load of responsibilities among several players.” It’s about “leaving the comfort zone and supporting players like Daniel Caligiuri and Guido Burgstaller.”

I consciously chose to share the load of responsibility among several players.

David Wagner

Dass der Vertrag von Mannschaftskapitän Alexander Nübel im Sommer 2020 auslaufe, habe bei seiner Entscheidung keinerlei Rolle gespielt. „Alex hat nichts falsch gemacht. Wir sind sehr glücklich, dass er in dieser Saison bei uns im Tor steht, denn wir haben einen der besten Keeper Deutschlands bei uns im Team“, sagt Wagner. „Es gilt, diesen Jungen so gut es geht zu unterstützen. Er ist ein wahnsinnig guter Torwart und wir hoffen, dass er noch viele Jahre bei uns spielt.“

Deliver on the pitch and reach the next round

Naturally, the Clemens Tönnies case has been a topic within the team this week and Wagner emphasises that he respects the opinion of every fan, “however, there comes a moment when the only thing that matters is supporting the team.”  The team can expect a “crazily interesting game” in Drochtersen, one to look forward to but fully focus on. “Our biggest task is to deliver on the pitch and reach the next round,” said Wagner, adding: “It has always been a great strength of Schalke’s to show solidarity during difficult moments.”

Caligiuri fit, Raman uncertain

The matchday squad for the Royal Blues is still to be decided. Daniel Caligiuri will be back in the squad, but questions remain over the fitness of new signing Benito Raman, who suffered an ankle injury in training on Tuesday. “If he trains Friday without any pain, he’ll travel with the squad,” Wagner clarified.

Alessandro Schöpf and Mark Uth are still not ready for action, however. The pair will stay at home, as will teammates Rabbi Matondo, Ozan Kabak, Jonas Carls and Salif Sané. The latter only returned to training on Tuesday and will continue with his personal training programme.

We must stick to our principles regardless of the opponent.

David Wagner

Wagner, who has seen a few games of Saturday’s opponents, added that his team must treat SV Drochtersen/Assel like any other competitive fixture. It is important to play our own game, a match plan that applies for this and subsequent opponents equally. “Of course, a few small things may be different, but we must stick to our own principles regardless of the opponent. We want to show that on Saturday in our first competitive match of the season.”

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