David Wagner: Making progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done

FC Schalke 04 fell to a 3-2 friendly defeat on Monday against Italian Serie A side FC Bologna but the result wasn’t the most frustrating outcome in the match for Royal Blues head coach David Wagner. Instead, Wagner was disappointed with the rough aggression showed by Bologna in the second half. This resulted in Jonas Carls suffering an injury.

“Everyone saw that the entire match was too physical,” said David Wagner regarding the 90 minute friendly in Kitzbühel’s Stadion Langau. “The injury is extremely frustrating and this has got on my nerves,” said the 47-year-old head coach, vocally expressing his anger at Bologna’s Musa Juwara who fouled Royal Blue Jonas Carls. Schalke’s left-back had to be substituted from the match as a result of a ligament injury.

We stand together and that was clear to see today.”

David Wagner

This was a disappointing and unnecessary moment in the match. However, moments after the collision, the players stood up to the Bologna player to defend Carls. “There isn’t really a better example of team building than what you saw in these matches. You can stand together and say: We defended ourselves,” stressed Wagner and added: “Regardless of what was said last season about the team’s poor mentality and lack ofdesire to work, we stand together and that was clear to see today.”

Positives to take out of Monday’s friendly

Despite the 3-2 full time scoreline, the 47 year-old was satisfied with the majority of his team’s performance in Kitzbühel, Austria. “We are continuing to make progress, it was a good friendly for us,” said Wagner reflecting on the match against the Serie A side. However, the American admitted his side conceded “very stupid” goals but he is prioritising other things from the match. “It was a very important match because we were able to give players returning from injury match time. For example, Alessandro Schöpf played his first match for six months,” said Wagner regarding his protégé and added that his side showed good structural movements in attack against Bologna.

The build-up play for the goal was fantastic.

David Wagner

The Royal Blues head coach praised his side for the build-up play to the opening goal of the friendly. “If you win the ball and then immediately play the ball vertically up the pitch, you are sometimes able to break through on goal after just two more passes,” explained Wagner succinctly and added: “The build-up play for this goal was fantastic. However, the result isn’t what the coach would’ve wanted as Schalke lost the friendly, “but the result really isn’t that important as we are still only in pre-season. I was impressed with the manner in which the team battled back today,” said the coach.

A month into pre-season preparations for the new season, the 47 year-old is pleased with the progress his side are making. “We’re making progress in the right direction but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Wagner. The head coach added his side are showing exactly the right readiness and mentality to work. “We can build on this platform but that will be our basis.”

High hopes for attacking players to return

The Royal Blues are currently half way through their pre-season training camp in Mittersill and will conclude their preparations in Austria with two friendlies on Friday against Turkish side Alanyaspor (14:00 CEST) and Spanish side Villarreal (18:00 CEST). Wagner hopes to welcome back attackers Guido Burgstaller, Ahmed Kutucu and new signing Benito Raman to training ahead of these friendlies. Similarly to Daniel Caligiuri and Alessandro Schöpf, who both returned to feature against Bologna, another long term absentee could make his comeback on Friday. “We hope to welcome back Mark Uth on Friday and he will hopefully feature for part of the friendlies at least,” said a optimistic Wagner who also added at the same time: “It more important, however, for the players to stay healthy throughout pre-season. As a result, you cannot risk anything unnecessary.”

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