Opinion: The Di Matteo reign was a taxing - and expensive - exercise | Bundesliga | DW | 26.05.2015
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Opinion: The Di Matteo reign was a taxing - and expensive - exercise

Another week goes by, another coach departs from Schalke. This time though, DW's Ross Dunbar believes that Schalke's decision to take on, and then basically force out, Roberto Di Matteo could have been avoided.

As Schalke's under-19 side romped to the national German championship on Monday, the message from the fans to the club's first team was clear: "You see this guys; this is how it's done."

A feeble end to the season didn't go entirely unrewarded: Schalke still scraped a place in next season's UEFA Europa League, but fell a long way off the fourth UEFA Champions League position.

Two matches featuring fan protests didn't necessarily end the tenure of Roberto Di Matteo, but the fact they were aimed at Schalke's key players in the boardroom - sporting director Horst Heldt and chairman Clements Tönnies - forced the pair down the obvious path of putting pressure on their coach.

But Schalke's ills don't just sit with Di Matteo. Under the guidance of Heldt, the Royal Blues have been just a nudge away from falling into a trap of power-struggles and poor decisions. Amid consistent pressure from outside, despite Schalke's best second-half of the season ever in 2014, Heldt wielded the axe on Jens Keller.

That move might've worked had someone like Thomas Tuchel come in, but the appointment of Di Matteo as Keller's successor in October was bound for catastrophe.

The wrong style

The former Chelsea boss - who managed to win the Champions League with the Blues - was never a sound fit for the Gelsenkirchen side. There were only very rare displays of passion from the Swiss coach, something that has formed a bond between arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund, with the same working-class heritage, and their most successful coach of all time, Jürgen Klopp.

Even in Di Matteo's preferred style of football, there was an obvious mismatch. In the Bundesliga, there won't be many sides that can boast the craft and poise of the attacking options at his disposal - notably, Max Meyer, Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Finishing outside of the top-four was unthinkable for the 44-year-old whose position might've been safe had the fans not put pressure on those calling the shots. At a time when the Royal Blues could be looking to invest in the playing squad, to complement the excellent talent coming through the ranks, Heldt will be counting the cost of some unnecessary blunders.

A pay-off for Di Matteo could cost the Royal Blues around 5.3 million euros ($5.78 million), should reports be believed. Without Champions League income - which has kept Schalke on a steady financial path lately - resources are limited for RDM's successor to bridge what appears to be a big gap to the current top-four, plus Borussia Dortmund.

Re-establishing the Royal Blues as one of Germany's top-four sides leaves no room for error, when Heldt picks the team's next coach. And by the way: When he does, it will be the 14th coach change for Schalke in 10 seasons.

Do you agree? Join the conversation below. Who should be Roberto Di Matteo's successor at Schalke?