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Sports

Online Reactions From Armchair Coaches

It's no surprise when a soccer team's play leaves something to be desired, that the coach will land on the hot seat. Fans vent their frustations online and club coaches sometimes get an earful.

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Schalke fans are loyal and don't hesitate to vent their frustrations

The entertainment value of Bundesliga soccer is indisputable and the numbers prove it: Almost 40,000 spectators are making their way to nine stadiums per week so far, almost 2,000 more than last season. Call it early season optimism, but fans make sure that the players on the pitch can hear their fans when they are spurring them on, or that the pros get wind of their displeasure.

When the performance on the pitch doesn't meet that of the fans' expectations, then one of the first persons to feel their wrath is the coach. The supporters vent their frustrations over a coach's failure on the sideline online. At the moment, Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick is feeling the heat.

Schalke Trainer Ralf Rangnick jubelt

Schalke's coach Ralf Rangnick, happy in this photo from last season, is less so after a slow start in the 2005/06 campaign

"It's incomprehensible," wrote "Eizy1701" on S04 Fanforum, a fan club of Schalke. "After everyone wondered why Ralf Rangnick left his best striker on the bench until the 65th minute. In the game against Nuremberg he then goes in his pants and decides to start just one striker, that being Kevin Kuranyi. How long do we have to watch this?"

Disasters on the road

After the 1-1 draw against Nuremberg, a team that everyone has on their list of strong relegation candidates, the criticism is reaching a crescendo at the S04 Fanforum. The anger is rising in Gelsenkirchen, the Ruhr Valley home of Schalke, against the coach who many feel is too cerebral. "Jörg" complained that the game is won on the pitch and "not on the blackboard."

Arena Auf Schalke

The Arena "Auf Schalke" exists largely due to Rudi Assauer's efforts and the club director wants to see a championship come to Gelsenkirchen

Club director Rudi Assauer, whose heart beats true royal blue, the team's colors, is also outraged at the team's paltry record so far of just two wins and four draws, leaving them eight points back of Bayern Munich. After Schalke's uninspiring 1-0 loss at Eindhoven in the European Champions League, the cigar-chomping Assauer exploded saying that how the club played was unacceptable and "that he would have a word with each player and the coach."

Sympathy for "Auge"

So far, Rangnick has kept his post. That much cannot be said for Klaus Augenthaler. Last week, he was the first coach to be given the pink slip following Bayer Leverkusen's worst start in 23 years. Former German national coach Rudi Völler is filling "Auge's" shoes on an interim basis. The players have reacted by giving him two victories, including one over their hated rival, FC Cologne.

Klaus Augenthaler

Fans don't blame ex-Leverkusen coach Klaus Augenthaler for the team's poor play

Völler, who also was a feared striker with Leverkusen, is beloved by the supporters. But Augenthaler was also a fan-favorite and has been given almost nothing but condolences. In a kicker sport magazine poll, only 8.5 percent pointed their fingers at the former coach for the team's poor play up to last week, which included an embarrassing home defeat in the UEFA cup to Sofia.

The players and management are taking the brunt of the abuse.

"I don't understand the world anymore. The players are too dumb and the trainer has to work it out," wrote "Baerchen" at the lev-rhineland.de Web site and who then goes onto criticize the current club leadership, calling for the return of Rainer "Calli" Calmund, the former club director now more famous for his size, to straighten things out.

For B04Leverkusen, the biggest problem lies in the mentality of the team, one that he calls a "civil servant" mentality.

"They do just as much as they have to and that's all," the fan wrote.

Unfortunately not all the fan Web site forums are accessible. Coaches like Giovanni Trappatoni in Stuttgart and Holger Fach in Wolfsburg more than likely are also getting a thrashing after mediocre starts. But only the die-hard fans can read about what they already know.

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