Will Andre Breitenreiter Be a Good Fit as the Head Coach at Schalke 04?
While Schalke 04 ended up in sixth place on the 2014 – 2015 Bundesliga, qualifying for the 2015 – 2016 Europa League, and even beating the previous season’s runner-up, Borussia Dortmund, it was still a rocky year for the football club. On October 14th following a loss against Hoffenheim, Jens Keller, head coach at Schalke 04, was sacked by officials. Keller had only been with the club since 2012, but he had enjoyed some decent results, including a third place finish in 2013 – 2014, and a fourth place finish the year before.
Keller was replaced by Swiss coach Roberto Di Matteo, but Di Matteo couldn’t turn things around, and resigned at the end of the season. In the final 10 games of the season, Di Matteo’s soccer squad had only managed to tally two wins, costing them a place in the Champions League, and making Schalke 04 arguably the second biggest letdown of the 2014 – 2015 Bundesliga, after Borussia Dortmund.
Now, another new manager is setting up shop at Veltins-Arena: Andre Breitenreiter, most recently of SC Paderborn 07. The German-born manager will be Schalke 04’s 14th head coach in the past decade, and will hopefully be able to establish a system that works for the organization on a consistent basis.
As a player, Andre Breitenreiter played for nine different soccer clubs, and while many of them were German squads, he never played at Schalke 04. Serving as an attacking midfielder or striker, Breitenreiter played for Hannover 96, Hamburger SV, Wolfsburg, Unterhachling, SC Langenhagen, Hessen Kassel, Holstein Kiel, BV Cloppenburg, and TSV Havelse in his 19-year career, which last from 1991 to 2010.
After retiring as a player, Andre moved right into coaching. His first major job was the head coaching position at the football club where he had closed out his career, TSV Havelse. A fourth-tier football club, TSV Havelse was never going to reach the Bundesliga. However, Breitenreiter did coach the squad to a runner-up finish in the Regionalliga Nord in 2013—an outcome that earned him the attention of a team that would have a chance at reaching the Bundesliga: Paderborn 07.
When Breitenreiter came to Paderborn, the club was playing in the 2. Bundesliga division, and had finished 12th during the 2012 – 2013 season. Andre almost singlehandedly turned things around, coaching the team to a record of 18 wins, eight draws, and eight losses—good enough to push them into second. It was the first time in history that SC Paderborn 07 had earned promotion to Germany’s top-tier soccer division.
Unfortunately, Paderborn’s run in the Bundesliga wasn’t the Cinderella story many had been hoping for. Things started off well: Breitenreiter’s squad went undefeated in the first four weeks of competition, and was ranked at the top of the table after week four. In the end, though, Paderborn’s record of seven wins, 10 draws, and 17 losses—not to mention their dismal goal difference rating of -34—landed the football club in last place.
Schalke 04: A Good Fit for Breitenreiter?
Now, SC Paderborn 07 are headed back to the second tier of German soccer, but Andre Breitenreiter will get an opportunity to stick around in the Bundesliga, thanks to his new job as the head coach at Schalke 04. But will Breitenreiter be a good fit for the Miners? Or will he merely be the latest in a revolving door of managers at Veltins-Arena?
For his part, Horst Heldt (Schalke’s sporting director) believes that Andre is “the right coach” for the Miners. Heldt praised Breitenreiter’s hard work and success at Paderborn “in spite of extreme means,” and explained his criteria for appointing a new head coach this time around.
“After the departure of Roberto Di Matteo, I have emphasized what we expect from our new coach: attractive, passionate attacking football and a team spirit, which will match the enthusiasm of our supporters,” Heldt said.”Andre Breitenreiter convinced those responsible that he’s the right fit for our goals. He’s a young, bold coach, who isn’t frightened to make tricky decisions. He showed at Paderborn that he can develop talent and understands how to discipline, build and improve a team.”
Heldt also said that, during early talks with Breitenreiter, the former Paderborn manager explained in detail how he plans to “bring success” and play exciting football at Schalke 04. In other words, Andre has some big plans for his new club, and those plans clearly resonated with those in charge at Schalke. That fact alone should get fans excited to see what happens in 2015 – 2016.
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