Dutchman Fred Rutten will leave the relative sanity of his homeland to enter the crazy world of the Bundesliga at the end of the season. The current FC Twente coach will lead Schalke 04's next quest for the league title.
Hands up if lack of job security and intense pressure to succeed don't bother you
It takes a brave man to take on the hopes and dreams of Schalke 04's emotional following. While Bayern Munich fans get upset when their team does not deliver the league title every season -- as is their apparent right -- Schalke fans start every campaign with an almost physical yearning for championship success after half-a-century of heartbreak.
Just ask recently departed coach Mirko Slomka. He may have taken Schalke to the brink of the Bundesliga title in 2007 and the Champions League quarter-finals this year, but the Holy Grail remained beyond him during his two seasons with the club. The 5-1 thrashing by Werder Bremen on April 12 may have been the last nail, but the coffin he was eventually shipped out in was constructed from championship failure.
Enter Fred Rutten. The name of the coach who will attempt to bring the title to Gelsenkirchen on the 51st anniversary of their last league success was formally announced by the club on Wednesday, April 23. When the Dutchman eventually arrives during the summer break, after his contract with Dutch league side FC Twente comes to an end, he would be wise to notice that the doors through which he enters are of the revolving kind and that they are well-oiled.
A long list of distinguished failures
Not close enough: Slomka was another Schalke nearly-man
Rutten is the latest in a long line of men to sip from the glittering but seemingly poisoned chalice offered by Schalke chairman Josef Schnusenberg.
Some succumbed to its deadly contents earlier than others. While Mirko Slomka lasted almost two years, his predecessor, the stop-gap manager Oliver Reck, failed to clock up a month. The incumbent before him, Ralf Rangnick, also held a two-year tenure but, despite a runners-up place in the league in 2005 and a DFB Cup win in the same campaign, he was sacked for his inability to land the coveted league title.
A coach's standing does not seem to make much difference to the outcome either. Jupp Heynkes, a World Cup and European Championship winner as a player with Germany, managed the club for two seasons but couldn't replicate the Bundesliga-winning formula he enjoyed as coach of Bayern Munich or European Cup success he had as Real Madrid chief.
The clock will be ticking, Fred
Bad results could speed Rutten to the end of his tenure
Fred Rutten may also want to take note of the significance of the recurring "two-year tenure" theme at this point. After Schalke paid half a million euros in compensation to FC Twente to take away their coach, the German club then offered Rutten -- you've guessed it -- a two-year contract. Schalke is a club which does not insist on immediate success but does put a limited timescale on those they employ to achieve it.
The question remains as to what Rutten, a coach with limited top job experience behind him at a Dutch first division side, can hope to achieve in that time span in one of the most demanding jobs in German soccer.