After a pithy "hiccup," peter knabel, as the new head of sports, laid out without further ado the course of action for the fallen traditional soccer club schalke 04.
"We are obliged to have ambitions. Schalke belongs in the bundesliga, and that’s where we want to go back," the 54-year-old said on wednesday at his presentation as the new board member for sports and communications. Words that will also benefit the 150.000 royal blue members would have liked to have heard. Next to knabel, jens buchta, under whose chairmanship the supervisory board voted unanimously in favor of knabel after a month of partly chaotic searching, sat with a satisfied expression.
Ralf rangnick was the desired candidate, who had been sponsored with much fanfare by an initiative and the resigned supervisory board member stefan gesenhues, but then turned down the appointment. Ex-mainz resident rouven schroder is also said to have turned down the offer. Supervisory board member buchta initially got a bloody nose in the search for a successor to the dismissed jochen schneider, to put it bluntly. The fact that he was second choice at best did not make knabel uncomfortable on this sunny day at schalke. "No problem at all," he said.
Knabel scored points for his realism. Nor did he build the airlocks that are sometimes popular at schalke, for example, to create a miracle in the last eight bundesliga games for the time being. He spoke of the 2. League, "pressure-resistant" players with schalker hearts, and he warned of a "herculean task".
Because the direct return to the bundesliga is not a self-runner. "But others have failed before. It’s important that we learn from this," he said, referring to his former club hamburger SV, which has already failed twice. Knabel did not comment on speculation that HSV striker and second-league specialist simon terodde was a possibility.
Knabel has his work cut out for him. Finally, a radical rebuilding of the squad is on the agenda following the relegation, which is hardly avoidable. As loyal helpers he had norbert elgert, mathias schober and mike buskens as club idols. The "squad planning task force" meets twice a week. In view of the high level of debt of around 240 million euros, a lot of ingenuity is needed, especially in the development of talent. Knabel has presided over the squeeze since 2018. First, however, the new head of sports is looking for a sports director, because the upcoming major task "cannot be handled alone".
Born in witten, former professional knabel, who after the end of his professional career was technical director at FC basel and the swiss fubball association and gained further experience as sports director at hamburger SV, takes up his new post with a handicap. Many fans had signed an online petition with more than 50.000 signatures for the return of former coach rangnick made strong.
It speaks for knabel that as sports director at HSV in 2015, he proved that you can stop a negative trend even with a slimmed-down budget. Although the budget for the professional squad was reduced by ten million euros, the hamburg team finished the season in a respectable tenth place after two years in the relegation zone. Nevertheless, the embarrassing "rucksack affair" signaled the premature end of his tenure on the elbe.