With five newcomers, but also clear gaps in the squad, new coach Frank Kramer starts training for the Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 for relegation - greeted by friendly applause from around 1000 football fans in the Parkstadion.
The first impression delighted the new coach. Around 1,000 fans in the sunshine in the Parkstadion, friendly applause as a welcome: Frank Kramer began his difficult mission at Bundesliga returnees Schalke 04 in a good mood. "So many people in such great weather, it's heart-breaking," admitted the 50-year-old after the first practice session with the Royal Blues.
The coach was able to examine the first newcomers at the start of training 46 days after the promotion, but the squad still revealed significant gaps. "We're not just making a wish here," Kramer replied when asked about possible further reinforcements. Especially in defence, the need for promoted players is still great. "We are in talks to strengthen ourselves further," said sports director Rouven Schröder, whose financial framework at the heavily indebted traditional club is tight: "It's like in America with the salary cap, you have to deal with it."
Most recently, Schröder had signed striker Sebastian Polter from regional rivals VfL Bochum for an estimated 1.5 million euros. The 31-year-old is to support and relieve second division record scorer Simon Terodde. "I think they can play well together," said Kramer, "Simon is more of a sneak, Polti is more of a force." Polter approaches the new task with self-confidence. "I'm in the prime of footballing age," he said, "I've always scored my goals too." In Bochum, he contributed to staying up in the league with ten Bundesliga goals.
The attacker was one of five newcomers who started sweating in the first session - alongside goalkeepers Alexander Schwolow (Hertha BSC) and Justin Heekeren (Rot-Weiß Oberhausen) and field players Ibrahima Cisse (KAA Gent) and Tobias Mohr (1. FC Heidenheim). On the other hand, Leo Greiml (Rapid Vienna/individual training), U21 international Tom Krauß (RB Leipzig/vacation) and Florent Mollet (Montpellier/private reasons) were still missing.
Schröder has the same problems putting together the squad as last year: This time too, several overpriced players from the relegation season, such as Amine Harit or Ozan Kabak, have not yet been sold or loaned out. He also does not know whether he has further financial possibilities for reinforcements. "Groundhog Day," said the manager with a grin: "It's a gamble." With a further 183.5 million euros in liabilities, Schalke, who were still in the Champions League a good three years ago, must first "bake small rolls", as newcomer Polter stated. Or as Schröder put it: "The year will be extremely difficult."