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Sport

Wagner's future in doubt as sinking Schalke host Werder

BERLIN (Reuters) - Schalke 04 coach David Wagner’s future at the club could be in jeopardy on Saturday when the Royal Blues host Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Bayern Munich v Schalke 04 - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - September 18, 2020 Schalke 04 coach David Wagner during the match REUTERS/Michael Dalder DFL regulations prohibit any use of photographs as image sequences and/or quasi-video

With the season only a matchday old, Schalke are already under enormous pressure following their 8-0 demolition by Bayern Munich in the opener last week, their 17th consecutive league game without a win.

“I am not one who will openly issue an ultimatum, that is not my style,” said Schalke sports director Jochen Schneider this week, refusing to be drawn into a discussion on Wagner’s future.

He did, however, demand an immediate turnaround.

“What is clear is that we have to perform differently. We cannot again present ourselves like that,” Schneider said. “It is not acceptable.

“The key question is if we can turn it around, if we can pull the cart out of the mud. That can only happen with a winning result because that brings confidence back.”

That is not the only thing that has been lacking in Wagner’s team, with the coach publicly expressing his frustration for his players “naive” behaviour of still attacking despite trailing 5-0 against Bayern.

The 48-year-old Wagner joined Schalke in 2019 and in the first half of last season lived up to fans’ expectations, with the club in Champions League contention, just seven points off the top and with only three defeats in 17 games.

They added, however, 10 more from their next 17 matches to end up 12th, just eight points above the relegation playoff spot.

Scoring goals has also become a rarity at Schalke these days and the team has not managed more than one goal in a league game since January.

Wagner, whose contract runs to 2022, hopes the arrival of Portuguese striker Goncalo Paciencia on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt will change that, starting against Werder, who needed a playoff last season to avoid relegation and also lost their season opener.

“Werder have also had a rough season and needed the playoff to stay up,” said the 26-year-old Paciencia, who scored 15 goals in 61 matches for Frankfurt.

“I expect a tough fight and we must give it all, run more and fight harder. My job as a striker is to score goals. That is why I am here.”

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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