Otto rehhagel talks at schalke: the big sigh of relief

Schalke 04 reaches the Champions League quarterfinals. Felix Magath is nevertheless to be dismissed as quickly as possible, and Otto Rehhagel is being considered as his successor.

Otto Rehhagel in blue and white – but here in the kit of the Greek national coach. Photo: dpa

If Felix Magath were a man with a finer sense of the irony of history, he would have taken a lap of honor after Schalke 04’s 3-1 win over FC Valencia. Just as Ralf Rangnick once did as Schalke’s coach immediately before his dismissal.

The crowd would have cheered Magath as frenetically as Rangnick once did after the dramatic final phase and Jefferson Farfan’s liberating goal to make it 3-1, as the arena was immersed in a sweet Champions League frenzy. He could have staged an impressive statement against the Schalker supervisory board, but Magath has little use for such small historical allusions, and he’s not one for big feelings anyway. "After all, I had to go in and give interviews," Magath replied when asked why he let this replica of his impending dismissal slip by.

He would not have been able to dissuade the gentlemen who decide Magath’s fate from their decision anyway. According to the Bild-Zeitung, there was already a "secret meeting" of the supervisory board on Tuesday evening in Rheda-Wiedenbruck, where Clemens Tonnies, the head of the board, resides. Allegedly, the gentlemen’s group voted unanimously in favor of parting ways with Magath.

FC Schalke 04 – FC Valencia 3:1 (1:1)

UEFA statistics for the match

FC Schalke 04: Neuer – Uchida, Howedes, Metzelder, Escudero – Matip (60. Papadopoulos), Kluge (81. Sarpei) – Farfan, Jurado (76. Draxler) – Raúl, Gavranovic

Valencia FC: Guaita – Saltor, Navarro, Ricardo Costa, Mathieu – Topal, Ever (71. Tino Costa) – Joaquin, Mata, Pablo Hernandez (64. Soldado) – Aduriz (74. Jonas)

Referee: Eriksson (Sweden) – Spectators: 53 517

Goals: 0:1 Ricardo Costa (17.), 1:1 Farfan (40.), 2:1 Gavranovic (52.), 3:1 Farfan (90.+4)

Yellow cards: Escudero, Farfan, Kluge / Mathieu

Best players: Kluge, Farfan / Mathieu, Joaquin

Tonnies: "We have to pull the ripcord".

Tonnies told the sports magazine Kicker: "We have to pull the ripcord. Completely independent of the Champions League. The whole club is burning like a torch." The head of the supervisory board complains of "inhumane treatment" for which Magath and his staff are responsible. Much has happened in the turbulent history of Schalke 04, but the club has certainly never been as divided as it is now.

The club’s bylaws now stipulate that Magath, as a member of the executive board, must be informed of an impending dismissal and then be heard by the supervisory board three days after this announcement. Monday could be the day, but Magath’s predecessors Andreas Muller and Rudi Assauer decided to forego this opportunity for discussion and immediately took leave of absence.

But the big sigh of relief is approaching. Most recently, even captain Manuel Neuer is said to have spoken out in favor of a separation to the supervisory board. "I’m not the right person to determine that," the national goalkeeper said after the win over Valencia, but defending words for Magath were not heard from any of the players.

"This game showed that we could use an experienced coach," Neuer merely stated, and even that statement was probably only secondarily a final thank you to the outgoing coach. The goalkeeper was probably already alluding to Otto Rehhagel, to whom the supervisory board would like to entrust the team until the end of the season before a young coach then takes over.

At first glance, it may seem absurd to entrust a 72-year-old retiree with the mission of keeping the team in the league, but interim solutions are never flawless. Rehhagel cultivates a warm closeness to the players, which could have a liberating effect, plus he’s a child of the Ruhr and a coaching fox who fits in perfectly with Magath’s legacy.

Rehagel will already have three Bundesliga victories under his belt

The Essen native doesn’t work conceptually, but he has a keen eye for available players and shares Magath’s passion for personnel decisions that no one expects. Rehhagel would somehow bring in the three Bundesliga victories to keep the club in the league, and the DFB Cup final could be the crowning glory of a great coaching career.

With Werder Bremen, Rehhagel won the European Cup, with Kaiserslautern he became champion as a promoted team and with Greece he won the title of European champion. In this series, a Schalke Champions League triumph would not even be the biggest miracle. In any case, the quarterfinals would be "a celebration," said striker Raúl, who had once again worked hard and was among the best eight teams in Europe for the first time in six years. Even the old coach’s favorite did not want to make a plea for Magath.

The debate is coming at the wrong time, Raúl merely said. Only Felix Magath acted as if nothing had happened at all. "It’s about Schalke, I work for Schalke, and I will continue to do so," he said. All that was missing to complete the Schalke madness was the lap of honor.

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