Andre Breitenreiter takes over at Schalke and marks the 14th change of coach in a decade. DW's Ross Dunbar looks at his record in recruiting players and his success at Paderborn.
The revolving door at the Veltins Arena continues to spin as the 11th different head coach at Schalke in 10 years was presented to the media.
Andre Breitenreiter takes over what many regard to be a poisoned chalice. A dysfunctional club with a series of inadequate managers and chiefs, Schalke has surrendered its berth in the Champions League and now requires some significant groundwork to find its way back into the top-four.
Breitenreiter, 41, was the head coach of Paderborn last season, the tiny club who managed to stay in the hunt for survival under Matchday 34. He succeeds Roberto Di Matteo whose 10 month tenure in Gelsenkirchen came to an underwhelming climax at the end of the season.
"We have to find our unity again both on and off the pitch. Only then can we play successful football again," Breitenreiter told the German media. "I would like to see a team with the right mentality and a positive attitude on the pitch."
Sound transfer record
Despite suffering relegation, Paderborn's public perception was promising. On a meager budget, Breitenreiter's team played with purpose, enthusiasm and tempo, albeit lacking considerably in quality compared to other teams in the bottom-half of the league.
But the 41-year-old - a former striker in his playing days - has proven himself to be a shrewd operator in player recruitment, alongside Michael Börn at Paderborn. Breitenreiter has adjusted his strategy and tactics to suit the squad of players the club assembled.
In his first summer, several free transfers came on board. Uwe Hünemeier cost nothing and was club captain last season. Michael Heinloth was discarded at Nuremburg and proved a reliable enough full-back. Suleyman Koc signed for the best part of 50,000 euros and has resurrected his career.
Following a first-ever promotion to the Bundesliga, Breitenreiter continued to wheel-and-deal in the market. Lukas Rupp, Idir Ouali and Rafa Lopez, all regular features, were free transfers.
Marvin Bakalorz cost 150,000 euros and was first-pick in the middle of the pitch. Elias Kachunga was a 300,000 euros signing from Mönchengladbach and will command a seven-figure sum this summer after a decent season. Moritz Stoppelkamp, the most expensive addition at 700,000 euros, was Paderborn's best player this season.
Paderborn scored 31 goals last season, the highest number of goals scored by the bottom-placed club since MSV Duisburg (34) in 2005-06. Breitenreiter likes quick, direct attacking football and shares a similar thirst for goals as the Schalke fans do.
Onus still on Heldt
The most promising soundbites from the interview surrounded Benedikt Höwedes' future at the club. The Schalke skipper will remain on the club's books for the foreseeable future, turning down offers from England.
Elsewhere, the sense of urgency from Heldt in concluding the transfer of Mainz's Johannes Geis was noticeable. The 21-year-old midfielder is being courted by Europe's top clubs and would be an excellent recruit for Schalke considering they lost out to Juventus over Sami Khedira last week.
What's clear, though, is that the sporting director must earn his dollars this summer. Schalke's transfer activity in recent seasons is symbolized by expensive trades for the likes of suspended pair Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sidney Sam, and Adam Szalai who has since returned to Hoffenheim.
Heldt, under pressure from supporters and the media, has to deliver the goods for the man he has entrusted to take charge of the club on a two-year-deal. An unknown quantity he may be, but should he get the tools for his job, then Breitenreiter appears to be a safe pair of hands for the Royal Blues.
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