Goal disallowed, red card conceded and unfortunate loss: After the unfortunate 3-1 defeat in Cologne, the blue and whites are at odds with the referee, who has his video assistant correct him three times.
Rouven Schröder had a lot to say when referee Robert Schröder asked both teams to go to the dressing room in the Bundesliga duel between 1. FC Köln and FC Schalke 04 late on Sunday afternoon. Side by side, the namesakes strode from the square, and almost certainly the two were exploring by no means possible family ties. Rather, there were two game scenes in which the video assistant could have put the blue and whites at a decisive disadvantage from the point of view of the Gelsenkirchen guests, the central theme of this grass walk. "I'm going home today with a really bad feeling," said the sporting director of the newly promoted team from Gelsenkirchen after the end of the game, about the way the Kölner Keller had worked with the hosts beforehand. "Tough decisions that weren't clearly wrong decisions were corrected. That upsets me."
It was a frustrating evening that the traditional club and everyone who supported it experienced in Cologne. Not given a goal, received at least a controversial red card, conceded the deficit after a cross ball from Jonas Hector, which the former national player scraped out of the open according to his opponent Cedric Brunner and, last but not least, when the VAR for the third time made a decision of the Referees overturned and Sargis Adamayan helped Cologne to make it 2-0 - at the end of an extremely unfortunate evening, Schalke felt they had lost the reward for their commitment, especially since three of the four decisions could have turned out differently. The discretion to do so was there. "We were disadvantaged today," Schröder said logically. And further: "What we need is a video assistant, but not a referee."
But the Rhinelanders, who not only had to do without the injured Mark Uth, but also had to do without striker Anthony Modeste for a short time, who is approaching Borussia Dortmund, a mixed performance was enough to end this fight against a decimated opponent in the end with 3: 1 (0:0) to win. The guests were 442 days after the last first division game - by the way also at 1. FC Köln (0: 1) - from the beginning highly concentrated and clearly clearer in the actions than the host FC. The miners, who started with a total of seven newcomers and without striker Simon Terodde, prepared their attacks carefully and did what coach Frank Kramer had asked of his team: "Stand high and hammer against them early on".
In this respect, the mood of the more than 10,000 fans of the Gelsenkirchen Bundesliga club who had traveled the short distance of 70 kilometers to experience the return to the 1st division in an atmospheric way was great. And if the video assistant hadn't intervened, the guests from Gelsenkirchen would have taken the well-deserved lead after just ten minutes. Zalazar had thrown a rebound from 16 meters straight into the corner, but the referees thought Schalke's Japanese Maya Yoshida was passively offside after a three-minute struggle for the correct interpretation of the scene. At least a debatable point of view. "In my opinion, a clear wrong decision," said Kramer according to the TV images. "The goalkeeper had a clear view of the ball."
Worse was VAR's intervention in the 35th minute after ex-Cologne Dominick Drexler stepped on the calf of his Cologne counterpart Jonas Hector. The two participants did not seem agitated after the action. Only after the shake hands was the referee asked to the edge of the field for an assessment and, after looking at the picture, dismissed Schalke from the field. "Too hard," said ex-national player Michael Ballack, probably representing the opinion of many experts. Ex-Schalke player Mark Uth, who was unable to play due to injury, also added: "I'm having a hard time with this decision, even if it was in our favour." And even Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart did not agree with this decision and added: "Anyone who knows Drexler knows that this is not an unfair player at all." And Kramer fumed cynically: "The referee came out of the corner again."
Either way: Schalke's heart was broken after this scene. "That moment pulled the plug on us," said keeper Alexander Schwolow. The returnees held the 0-0 lead until half-time, but after the change of sides it became clear who was promoted and who was taking part in an international competition. Luca Killian (49th), Florian Kainz (62nd) and the outstanding Dejan Ljubicic (80th) scored for the home side and skilfully used the one-hour majority game and the unstable security architecture of the S04 defense. Marius Bülter shortened after a standard to 1: 2 (76th).
Despite this at least initially committed, later unfortunate performance, in Gelsenkirchen, after the trip to the Rhine, the only thing left is to avoid the descent - that's what it's all about. "Now we have to do better against Gladbach next week," said Kramer after the end of the game. "We have to get up and do something about it again."
It is still unclear whether there will be further help from the executive floor in the form of other players. Ultimately, the clammy blue and whites, who will continue their consolidation course in league one, simply lack the money. The sale of midfield jewel Amine Harit is the last treasure that Schalke can still lift. But it could be much smaller than expected. The 25-year-old Moroccan, for whom there have been disappointing offers in the lower single-digit million range, has become quiet again in recent days.
The competition could acquire this fine technician at the closing price. Schalke's sporting director Rouven Schröder would have nothing against a hefty transfer fee, but would be happy just to be able to remove the highly paid professional from the payroll. With an estimated 500,000 euros per month, Harit Schalke is by far the best-paid employee. Only if the Gelsenkircheners get rid of him can the club management top up the transfer market again. According to Schröder, the trend is "clearly towards sales". Because the following still applies: If you want good circus, you have to be able to pay the acrobats accordingly. And Schröder meaningfully: "The transfer window is open until the end of August …"