David Wagner: Playing the kind of football that has long defined us
During a press conference on Wednesday (1/7), head coach David Wagner took stock of the 2019/20 season. The 48-year-old stated that there are clear reasons to be found for the team’s successful Hinrunde as well as for the recently ended second half of the season. Wagner is taking an optimistic approach to the future.
“We played with two different teams this season, more or less,” said Wagner, who hinted at a sharp decline following both matches against Hertha BSC (in the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal) at the end of January/early February. Several key players fell victim to injury and were out for lengthy spells, while others had to go through rehab for a much longer period of time than initially thought. “Benji Stambouli needed six months longer than we had thought, and Salif Sané needed an additional two months,” said Wagner.
After a successful start to the season, Schalke’s goalkeeping duo also struggled at times. “We had a pair of goalkeepers that were extremely reliable up until mid-February. After that, we had some issues at that position as well,” he said. The club was also unable to adequately fill these gaps during the January transfer window.
A lack of competition due to injury problems
Wagner added that he had hoped that the enforced break brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic would help with his side’s injury problems. However, despite the extra recovery time, certain players were unable to recover in time to be able to return and help out the team. To top it all off, the enforced break only added to Schalke’s injury issues. “We had three to four months where the quality in training was poor and where there was a lack of competition within the squad. That can contribute to even veteran players not performing at the level at which they can perform at,” said Wagner.
We have some exciting players there that we will continue to support and develop, not just because of the current financial situation, but also because we believe in them.
Nonetheless, this phase of the season also allowed the coach to draw several conclusions. “The cooperation with the Knappenschmiede continues to be very good. We have some exciting players there that we will continue to support and develop, not just because of the current financial situation, but also because we believe in them. That will continue to be one of Schalke 04’s key philosophies as a club,” said Wagner.
Now, it’s time to analyse the situation and to get back to playing the kind of football that the team had proven themselves capable of bringing to the pitch prior to February. One with “high intensity, lots of enthusiasm, courage and a strong team spirit,” according to Wagner. “For a while, it was evident that what we were doing can be successful,” he said. “If we have our full team together, then we can manage to do the same again. I’m 100 per cent convinced of that.”