David Wagner’s torrid time at Schalke looks to be at an end after their latest slip-up in the Bundesliga.
On Sunday, Schalke scored for only the second time in their last five Bundesliga outings to rescue a 1-1 draw at Union Berlin, but in the process they equalled a club record by going 12 consecutive league games without a win and continued their downward spiral under their under-pressure coach.
Wagner had been touted as the ‘next big thing’ in football management well before he took over at success-starved Schalke at the start of the season. He had been an eager student and understudy during Jurgen Klopp’s successful time at Borussia Dortmund and many were tipping him to follow in his fellow German’s footsteps to the very top of the game.
He returned to Germany after guiding an unlikely mob of players at Huddersfield Town to the English Premier League in 2017 and keeping them there the following season before his return to Germany with the task of taking Schalke back to their glory days.
After a promising start at the helm, it now looks like the unemployment line may be beckoning for a coach that promised so much.
Wagner had them riding high after years of struggles and they were in contention for the Champions League spots midway through the COVID-19-interupted season.
But they have now failed to win since January 17, and things just got worse on Sunday.
A confidence-shot Schalke were chasing the game against Union after only 11 minutes when Robert Andrich was sent clear by Anthony Ujah to beat keeper Alexander Nuebel and open the scoring. A leveller came from defender Jonjoe Kenny as Schalke’s misfiring frontline once again failed to deliver and only a late brilliant stop from Nuebel allowed them to escape with a point.
A point that will do little to help Wagner’s prospects of staying in the hotseat for much longer, with his side languishing down in 10th and well out of the reckoning for European football next season.
Elsewhere, Werder Bremen’s relegation fears increased on Sunday following a 1-0 home defeat by Wolfsburg on a day that saw a renewed show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Wout Weghorst headed home the decisive goal eight minutes before the end to push Wolfsburg back up to sixth place and the Europa League spots.
The match began after both sides’ starting players gathered around the centre circle at the Weser Stadium before dropping to one knee, echoing a gesture made by Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin players and Mainz midfielder Pierre Kunde Malong on Saturday.
Union Berlin and Schalke players then did the same.
With protests against police brutality and for racial equality taking place around the world on Sunday, the Bundesliga has become a stage for tributes to Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last month at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich players also wore messages in honour of Floyd.
Werder Bremen 0 Wolfsburg 1
Union Berlin 1 Schalke 1
B Leverkusen 2 Bayern Munich 4
Frankfurt 0 Mainz 2
Dusseldorf 2 Hoffenheim 2
RB Leipzig 1 Paderborn 1