Foundations are in place – focus turns to first competitive match of the season

After nine intensive days training in the Austrian alpine town of Mittersill, the Royal Blues few back to Gelsenkirchen on Saturday evening. Schalke head coach David Wagner gave a positive summary following the end of the pre-season training camp but turned his attentions to the forthcoming final days of pre-season back on home soil.

There are many factors off the pitch that come into play to ensure each day of a pre-season training camp goes to plan. These include needing the right training facilities, the best hotel, the right food and good weather. “These factors are important and worked well for us. It was good all round conditions for us,” praised Wagner the facilities at SC Mittersill as well as the Hotel Schloss Mittersill. This wasn’t just the case for the team but also for the many Royal Blues fans who followed the team to Austria, enjoying high temperatures in the summer sun. The occasional rain shower also didn’t dampen spirits. “It doesn’t influence us footballers,” says Wagner.

Royal Blues fulfill requirements from coaching team

Head coach Wagner was less impressed at seeing two of his brightest young talents, Jonas Carls and Rabbi Matondo, forced into leaving the training camp early with injury. Carls suffered a ligament injury and a bruised bone after a heavy collision in a friendly against Italian side Bologna while Matondo is recovering from a slowly healing wound sustained in Schalke’s friendly in the Netherland against FC Twente. “However, we also had several good moments,” said Wagner regarding a return to team training by long term absentees Alessandro Schöpf, Daniel Caligiuri and Mark Uth. “They played their first match minutes in a long time. Suat Serdar also played a big role during the training camp while Weston McKennie returned to full training too and is adapting more and more.” Additionally, the U23s players who travelled with the team also gave a good account of themselves.

This is also inevitable for sporting success. “This group get on really well and this is exactly what we need. We have to show emotion, excitement and aggression. That always has to be the foundation for our style of play,” explained the head coach. Despite some sore legs after the intensive training camp, the Royal Blues fulfilled all of the coaching team’s requirements.

They are getting used to the intensity we need to be playing at more and more

David Wagner

The Royal Blue players have also adapted more to the tactical demands set by the new coach. “The lads are accepting what they need to be doing,” praised Wagner, “they are getting used to the intensity we need to be playing at more and more.” Quick counter-attacks were worked on almost every day in training, as well as the ability to switch play to the other side of the pitch at pace.

Strong tackles and a fast-paced game were seen in the three friendlies against Bologna (3-2 loss), Alanyaspor (2-0 win) and Villarreal (3-1 win). “We are seeing more and more moments where the lads are doing exactly what we want them to be. You can also see that they are also enjoying it all too,” said Wagner, who still admits that there’s plenty of work to do. “We have only been working together for five weeks, which is enough time for us to grow together. Nevertheless, we’re not yet perfect and we have a lot more to do,” stressed the 47-year-old.

Not long until the first competitive game

The hard work will continue back in Gelsenkirchen over the next few days. “We have laid the foundations well in the training camp and now we want to carry on improving. We will recharge the batteries, so that we can recover both physically and mentally. The last five weeks have been very tiring.” S04 will now begin their preparations for the first competitive game of the season away at SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the DFB-Pokal (Saturday, 10th August).

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