The Miners in the darkest depth: Winless Schalke in gloomy company

The Miners in the darkest depth: Winless Schalke in gloomy company

Proudly boasting their mining history, particularly awe-inspiringly with their stadium tunnel looking like a mine shaft, the Gelsenkirchen club of Schalke isn't enjoying the darkness it has found itself in. The Miners have dug themself to the depth of the 25 games without a win in the league, placing them in a very tough crowd of clubs in the 21st century.

Schalke is the fourth-worst team in this regard looking at league streaks in the 21st century and certainly the biggest club of the infamous top 10. Having won the German league seven times, only behind Bayern Munich, Nurnberg, and rivals Borussia Dortmund. While winning the German Cup five times, on two occasions in this century. At the same time having international success for Germany with the UEFA Cup in 1997, and the Intertoto Cup in 2003 and 2004.

Schalke's winless streak

The German side is only behind the Perugia team from the 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 seasons that didn't win for 26 games, the first in their sights. But also behind the 2003/2004 Ancona side and the memorable bad Derby County side from 2007/2008 that didn't win in 32 games in a row!

Schalke's terrible streak started at the start of the year following their last win, against a respectable opponent - Borussia Monchengladbach. Since then, the club hasn't won in 25 games and actually lost 16 of them. Many with insanely hard to swallow scores.

The row of fruitless results started with a 5:0 mauling at the hand of Bayern Munich, which isn't that surprising in Germany when facing the Bavarians, even for the bigger sides. But the same result came at home against RB Leipzig while the fans were still in attendance.

Possibly even worse than these two 5:0 trashings was the 4:0 defeat to rivals from Dortmund. In the summer even Wolfsburg defeated the Royal Blues 4:1 too, followed by Freiburg 4:0.

The new season began with a historic 8:0 destruction at the hands of Bayern, with RB Leipzig scoring half that in October. BVB stopped at 3:0 in this season, while the latest Schalke embarrassment came against the team they last beat - Monchengladbach 4:1

To paint a picture of just how bad this Schalke side is, we need to mention the other clubs from European top five leagues that found their place on the longest winless runs in the 21st century. It's Hellas Verona, Arles-Avignon in France, Cagliari, Pescara, Kaiserslautern, and Osasuna.

To put it another way, the club is in a bad state whenever it's always mentioned in the challenges Football Manager players should take in a new game.

Schalke’s road down the hole

So how did it go so wrong for Schalke so quick? Because the team finished the 2017/2018 season second behind Bayern, with eight points more than the third-placed team.

Then in the last two seasons, the Miners have found themselves in the bottom of the 18-team table. First, they finished 14th, their worst placing in 25 years, and then they finished the last season 12th. Having started quite well with only two defeats in the first 13 games, and only three in the first 18 games. 

But then the mining car started going downhill and no one is able to stop it.

Yet, the sight is peculiar for all to see as this team was one of Germany's mainstays in Europe.

Before the last two deplorable years, Schalke was placed outside the top six on only two occasions in the past 10 seasons, in 2011 and 2017. While finishing second five times in the 21st century, and third three times.

The Royal Blues played in the group stages of the Champions League four times in the last ten years, reaching the semifinals in 2011, and quarter-finals in 2017.

Manager David Wagner was sacked after more than a year at the helm of the club following an 18-match winless run. His win ratio was that of 30%. His replacement Manuel Baum has that of 14.29% after seven games and one win in the German Cup, he signed a two-season deal with the miners having led youth sides of Germany and Augsburg before it.

Yet, the managers are possibly just symptoms of the troubles that has found its way into the Arena AufSchalke.

As the technical director Michael Reschke was sacked some 10 days ago, having been at the point of some peculiar transfers.

While the turbulence didn't avoid the playing staff, as the striker Vedad Ibisevic will have his contract terminated on December 31st due to a verbal exchange with Baum's assistant Naldo during training. While two important players Nabil Bentaleb and Amine Harit will train individually until further notice.

Harit left the manager hanging when exiting the game while Bentaleb has been a publically missed transfer, even though great expectations were on his shoulders following his early career. As testified by the sports director Jochen Schneider.

"He is undisputedly an excellent footballer, there are no two opinions. However, we have to state that Schalke and Nabil Bentaleb obviously do not go together. There was not that one moment, but it was a process. By summer 2021 at the latest they will separate paths," said Schneider.

The issues might've started symbolically and atmospherically when the club legend Benedikt Howedes was allowed to leave in 2017 on loan to Juve first. Following then a transfer for mere €5,000,000 with Lokomotiv Moscow paying the sum, having played 335 games for the club. Much to the disappointment of the Schalke faithful.

Now the club is also facing financial troubles even though they had the fifth-highest operating income in Europe in 2014. 

Schalke 2020/2021 season

Besides getting bullied by Bayern, RB Leipzig, and Borussia again, the team has truly been struggling. Last season was devoided of a relegation battle due to the terrific start of the season, now it is inevitable.

After nine games in the German Bundesliga, Schalke has just three points, from the three draws they managed to squeeze out. The Miners are at the very bottom of the table with Arminia Bielefield and Mainz ahead of them.

With mere six goals scored by the whole team, Robert Lewandowski (12), Erling Haaland (10), Lucas Alario (7), Andrej Kramaric (7), Jean-Philippe Mateta (7), and Andre Silva (7) have all scored more goals than Schalke.

The goal difference of -22 is far worse than that of the other relegation zone teams Arminia (-13) and Mainz (-11), as the side already conceded 28 goals.

Yet, there is still some sense left at the club of the greatness of the Royal Blues. With the loanee Goncalo Paciencia stating it after one hard-fought draw.

"If we think it was a bad thing, the draw, of course, we have to think big because we're in a big club, but at least we have to take the positive things in the game, in football," stated the Portuguese striker.

Schalke will get two great chances to get that first win in the league on December 16th and 19th, against Freiburg and Bielefeld at home. Also teams that are struggling with form.

Until the Miners dig up a W in their struggles, they can comfort themselves by looking at the last campaign and how one good half-season can nullify the terrible other one, with spring hopefully shining some light into the hole they find themselves in.


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