Berlin (dpa) – Schalke on Sunday parted ways with coach Christian Gross and board member sport Jochen Schneider on Sunday in the wake of latest defeats and internal turmoil at the Bundesliga bottom club.
Schalke crashed 5-1 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday, a week after losing the derby match 4-0 against arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund and amid reports that some players had asked the club leadership to get rid of Gross who was appointed in late December.
The club said that apart from Gross and Schneider team manager Sascha Riether and fitness coach Werner Leuthard also have to go.
Academy chief Peter Knaebel has been put in charge of all sporting matters but a new coach yet to be named.
“The decisions taken were inevitable after the disappointing showings against Dortmund and Stuttgart,” supervisory board chief Jens Buchta said in a club statement after a telephone conference.
“The sporting situation is clear, so we have to think beyond the season for every personnel decision that has yet to be made.
“At the same time, the team is now obliged to play the last third of the current season as successfully as possible. The players owe that to the club and fans.”
Schalke face big debts of more than 200 million euros (241 million euros) and the first relegation since 1981 – just three years after they finished second behind Bayern Munich.
The club had on Saturday dismissed there had a been a players’ “revolt” against Gross. The team then played poorly in Stuttgart, with the Bild paper suggesting that “never has a team played against its coach in such a way.”
Schalke are nine points away from safety with just one season win – achieved in January – and nine points overall from 23 games.
Gross, 66, was their fourth coach, following David Wagner, Manuel Baum and brief caretaker Huub Stevens.
Schalke avoided relegation last season because of a good first half of the campaign. They then only won the first game of the second half after which they went 30 games without victory, narrow avoiding equalling Tasmania Berlin’s record 31 games without victory when they beat Hoffenheim 4-0 in January.
Wagner had to go after two games of the season they started with an 8-0 humiliation at champions Bayern Munich, Baum only lasted a few weeks, and Gross’ fate now also appears sealed.
January signings Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar were reportedly behind seeking Gross’ dismissal during the week, with Riether confirming talks with players but not revealing what was said.
The poor performance in Stuttgart included a missed penalty from Nabil Bentaleb who has been suspended six times at the club in the past and was seemingly not supposed to take the spot kick.
Gross himself had voiced disappointment over the alleged player demand to have him out, insisting that “you have to discuss things, in the right way, if there are conflicts.”