There's panic in Gelsenkirchen after two defeats in two for Schalke - and Gladbach and Bayern to come. But looking at the bigger picture, there's no need to worry, writes DW's Matt Ford.
A missed penalty, a late red card, a 2-0 defeat and zero points from their opening two games – it's not the start that Schalke were hoping for, and the vultures are already circling in some quarters as we head into the first international break of the season.
"They have huge deficiencies," commented former Bayern Munich midfielder and current Sky television pundit Dietmar Hamann after the Royal Blues' shock home defeat to Hertha Berlin this weekend.
"I really am worried about Schalke. They were so harmless that I don't know where the improvements are going to come from. Tedesco has a lot of work on his hands."
Panic on the streets of Gelsenkirchen, Tedesco out, sack the board!
Fortunately for Schalke, in coach Domenico Tedesco and sporting director Christian Heidel, the club have two men who will keep calm heads while everyone around them in the emotional Ruhrpott pressure cooker is losing his – and that's not something you could always say about Schalke.
Despite last season's second-place finish, there were still a few muffled murmurs of discontent regarding Tedesco's overly cautious playing style as Schalke found the net fewer times than any other side in the top six – such are the expectations at one of Germany's biggest clubs.
But they also had the third-best defense in the Bundesliga as Tedesco set about correcting the previous season's 10th-place disaster under Markus Weinzierl. There are no quick fixes, and the current regime at the Veltins-Arena knows that.
Long term planning - a new phenomenon at Schalke
Last week in Wolfsburg, Schalke struggled to get a grip on the midfield – which is why Heidel and Tedesco moved quickly to sign Sebastian Rudy from Bayern Munich. The 28-year-old was substituted 51 minutes into his debut but there will surely be more to come from the German international who has the potential to become the driving force in Schalke's midfield.
- Read more: Why Schalke and Sebastian Rudy are a perfect match
Up front, the arrivals of Mark Uth from Hoffenheim and Steven Skrzybski from Union Berlin should boost Schalke's threat in front of goal, but it will understandably take time for the new arrivals to get in sync with each other. The same applies to Salif Sané at the back – one of the Bundesliga's stand-out defenders with Hannover last year.
"When we don't take the lead, we make life difficult for ourselves," Tedesco said post-match. Indeed, it would have been a different game had Daniel Caligiuri converted his first-half penalty just 76 seconds before Hertha took the lead.
Whether Schalke's signings are of the required quality to replace the departed Leon Goretzka, Max Meyer and Thilo Kehrer remains to be seen. Tedesco's coaching and Heidel's scouting will be judged upon their progress.
But two defeats from two games doesn't change Schalke's stated aim for the season – not replicating or bettering second place but consolidating their status as a top-four, Champions League side.
"It's only a false start for Schalke," commented local newspaper WAZ – "nothing more."
Schalke are finally planning for the long-term, so there's no need for short-term panic.