- Schalke ended the season in fifth place.
- Andre Breitenreiter's departure as coach has been confirmed after just one season.
- Further change afoot as Christian Heidel will replace Horst Heldt as sporting director.
After their best start to a league season in 44 years, FC Schalke 04 appeared to struggle through 2015/16, despite ending the season in fifth and qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. bundesliga.com looks back at the Royal Blues' campaign as a whole.
Season in a nutshell
It has been another season of upheaval and change in Gelsenkirchen. The club enjoyed their best start to a league season for 44 years following the appointment of Andre Breitenreiter as coach, but performances and results suffered as the campaign progressed. The Royal Blues were knocked out of the DFB Cup in round two at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach and well beaten by FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League.
To their credit, however, Breitenreiter's men came up with some big results by beating Gladbach in the league and taking a point off high-flying rivals Borussia Dortmund, eventually finishing fifth thanks to a handsome 4-1 win at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on the final day. Incoming sporting director Christian Heidel has already sealed the signing of experienced defender Naldo on a free transfer, although a new coach is yet to be appointed. Supporters will hope whoever the new man is can get the very most out of a squad packed full of talent.
Top three games
MD25: 1. FC Köln 1-3 FC Schalke 04
In a topsy-turvy match that could have ended 5-5, Max Meyer’s well-taken double kept Schalke on course for a European finish.
MD27: FC Schalke 04 2-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
After losing at Hertha Berlin, Schalke got back on the horse with a hugely significant – if slightly fortuitous – win at home to the Foals, exacting revenge for their DFB Cup exit.
MD29: FC Schalke 04 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Breitenreiter’s team twice responded after going behind to maintain their momentum in the season’s final straight and dent Dortmund’s title push.
Leroy Sane once again underlined his tremendous potential in 2015/16. He scored the deciding goal in three consecutive matches between Matchdays 4 and 6 and netted against Dortmund, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Hoffenheim in the final weeks of the campaign. There is every chance he will improve on his final tally of eight goals and six assists next season.
What comes next?
Schalke head to China for a pre-season tour between 2 and 9 July, where they will play friendlies against Guangzhou R & F and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande. A friendly against 3. Liga side Holstein Kiel has been arranged for 22 July, while the team will have their summer training camp in Mittersill, Austria, from 31 July until 8 August.
Horst Heldt, who will leave Schalke as sporting director after six years at the end of June, knows all too well the frustration of Schalke supporters after a disappointing season. As bundesliga.com reporter Dietmar Nolte noted, however, the 46-year-old also believes the club's passionate fan base could propel the club to something big: "There's an unbelievable strength here that can move mountains."