Keller’s baptism of fire: schalke expects to reach quarterfinals

Keller's baptism of fire: Schalke expects to reach quarterfinals

"This is an enormously important game for us. We want to win the cup," manager horst heldt said before tuesday’s eighth-final match against FSV mainz 05 at the veltins arena. "The foreground focus is on presenting results."

But it’s not just the sporting goals of the two clubs that make this duel with mainz a tricky one. Because of all things, the 05 football coach thomas tuchel is considered at schalke in the medium term as a desired coach. Even though the konigsblauen management emphasized after the surprising appointment of the former U17 coach keller that he would "definitely work until the end of the season" (head of the supervisory board clemens tonnies).

Because of the speculation, tuchel even felt compelled on monday to deny contacts to gelsenkirchen. "The topic must be finished. To date, there have been no talks with anyone from schalke, either as a youth coach or now with the professionals. I have publicly committed myself to mainz on several occasions and do so on a daily basis with my work," tuchel emphasized.

Although it is not to be excluded that the swabian keller can recommend himself with a good bundesliga-ruckrunde for a longer contract. But even the "emperor" is sure that tuchel, like one of his predecessors (jurgen klopp in dortmund), will soon end up on the beat. "At some point, tuchel will leave mainz, strive for higher things, and schalke has completely different possibilities than mainz. The prospects are great," stressed sky expert franz beckenbauer.

Tuchel himself had even fuelled such speculation as a guest on ZDF’s "aktuelle sportstudio" on saturday evening by avoiding making any clear statements when asked about his plans for the future. "I can’t say that I’ll definitely stay until 2015. I cannot look into the future. Of course I want to play for titles, to be in the champions league," explained tuchel. But then a "rough overall package" would have to be right, after all, he would be able to realize his ideas about soccer in mainz in peace and quiet.

Mainz manager christian heidel is already vehemently defending himself against any advances from gelsenkirchen. Lionel messi would rather come to mainz than tuchel go to schalke in the summer. "In that case i’m not ready to talk. There is no cancellation of the contract neither in winter nor in summer. Even if one 30, 60 or 70 million euros was offered," said heidel before the duel at schalke.

Heldt’s candidate keller, whom he learned to appreciate during their time together in stuttgart, may also have a hard time in gelsenkirchen because he is following in the rough footsteps of stalker’s "century coach" stevens, who is so immensely popular with fans.

Short-term surveys show that keller cannot rely on many advance praises. The question "keller for stevens – the right decision" posed by the trade magazine "kicker" (monday) on the internet?"Only 17.4 percent of the 10,987 participants answered "yes". On the other hand, 82.6 percent said "no" – a clear vote.

Nevertheless, keller is trusted to get the sinking schalke tanker afloat again for the time being. The new coach with experience of only nine bundesliga games so far (as interim coach of vfb stuttgart/2 wins, 4 defeats) had just two training sessions to give the team a motivational boost and tickle out the last reserves of strength.

Keller can’t change much in such a short time, especially since there are still a lot of injured players to mourn. Only marco hoger could replace atsuto uchida with a face mask despite a broken cheekbone. So for now, keller sees himself in demand as a psychologist: "the psychological aspect is important for tomorrow. We do not have many units. I have to remind the guys of their strong. We have to be brave and hope for positive support from the fans. All together for success!"