Insured Schalke seek quick return to Bundesliga under Mike Büskens


Things are starting to turn for Royal Blue in Bundesliga 2 with Schalke top of the table and with recently installed caretaker manager Mike Büskens at the helm, a return to the promised land of the Bundesliga is within reach as Die Knappen enters in the last straight season.

Relegated in daunting style as the bottom of the elite last season after just three wins throughout the campaign, the Gelsenkirchen giants were keen to turn things around quickly as they looked to bounce back. Still, the Second Division is a fiercely competitive hunting ground and after the team had been pushed around and pushed around throughout their first experience in the Second Division for over 30 years, the club hierarchy felt a change was needed. necessary. It happened as recently as March, when Schalke sat in sixth place, eight points out of first place and on a downward curve at a crucial moment.

Coach Dimitrios Grammozis gave way to Büskens, a man with blue blood in his veins after a successful playing career at Schalke during a time when the team won the 1997 UEFA Cup and two consecutive DFB Cups in 2001 and 2002 The 54-year-old has only been in charge for four games so far, but under the Duesseldorf native, To die Konigsblauen have won all four and lead the league for the first time this season. Indeed, the last time Schalke reached the top of the Bundesliga 2 was 31 years ago when they became second division champions.

Watch: Schalke win big against Heidenheim

Ingolstadt, Hanover, Dynamo Dresden and Heidenheim have all fallen to a resurgent Schalke side in recent weeks and with the likes of Second Division top scorer Simon Terodde and Ko Itakura, Rodrigo Zalazar and Dominick Drexler all in fascinating form, the he Büskens team is well prepared for what is going to be a tough race as they take on several of their fellow promotion challengers.

“We have made some important changes,” explained Drexler, transformed under Büskens, when asked what the difference has been compared to the last games. “We are more variable and have a different mix on the pitch. Sometimes it’s that simple in football.” Those “simple” tweaks – like switching to a back four and putting more emphasis on width of attack – paid off. Drexler, for example, has two goals and two assists in Schalke’s last four wins.

Former Schalke player and current caretaker manager Mike Büskens was in good spirits last weekend. – imago pictures

Japan international Itakura, meanwhile, has reveled in a slightly more advanced role in defensive midfield, with the 25-year-old also scoring a few goals in Schalke’s recent run. “I play wherever I can be most useful to the team,” the 25-year-old told the club’s official website. “Whether it’s in defense or in midfield, it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll be a striker in the next game,” the player on loan from Manchester City laughed. “Jokes aside, we have great strikers in our squad who know how to score,” he added. Strikers like Terodde, for example, the division’s top scorer with 22 goals and all-time top scorer in Bundesliga 2.

The next stop for confident miners is Darmstadt. Sitting fourth and just two points behind the leaders, Sunday’s Matchday 30 encounter presents a significant challenge to Schalke’s ambitions for automatic promotion. And the difficulty does not end there. The following weekend, the Royal Blues host Werder Bremen, the team with whom they are currently level on points at the top of the table. Throw St. Pauli and Nuremberg into the mix as the season reaches its peak, and it’s easy to see why those in the Gelsenkirchen-based team are taking nothing for granted, despite their superb form.

Marius Bülter (l.), Ko Itakura (c.) and Darko Churlinov (r.) enjoy the victory against Heidenheim. – IMAGO/Tim Rehbein/RHR-FOTO/IMAGO/RHR-Foto

“It’s only Matchday 29, which we can’t forget. We have to keep doing our job in every game,” warned Itakura. “The league table looks good, and the win [against Heidenheim] gives us an even better feeling – nothing is decided yet, however,” Drexler added. Coach Büskens also insisted his side would be foolish to get too far ahead of themselves at this crucial stage. one-on-one and prove you’re in, otherwise you’ll land on your back,” the man affectionately nicknamed Buyo mentioned. “We have to work hard for this dream, and we will,” added the tactician.

Another crucial factor Schalke may have on their side is their incredible home support. More than 57,000 fans packed the VELTINS-Arena to create a spellbinding atmosphere during last weekend’s victory and, for one man, all involved in Schalke’s setup, insisted that the huge presence of the loyal Royal Blues fans made a monumental difference. “They really carry us. I always get goosebumps when we celebrate in front of Nordkurve after a game, it’s just amazing,” Itakura said.

With fans like these: Schalke prepare for kick-off at the VELTINS-Arena. – imago pictures

“The fans played a big role in our victory,” continued coach Büskens. “I’ve known Schalke for 30 years, and the club’s emotions set it apart: the positive energy, the last support you need to cross the line,” added the former Schalke midfielder.

“Fans can feel that we have a group of guys on the pitch who will do anything for the club. We have to keep that passion going for our last five games of the season.” With the momentum and Büskens on their side, Schalke are in a good position as they look to come back at the big time from the first call.


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