Younes Belhanda has lavished praise on FC Schalke 04’s outstanding support and believes improvement is imminent despite the Royal Blues' disappointing defeat on Matchday 18.
The new signing from Ukrainian champions FC Dynamo Kyiv made his Bundesliga debut as a 60th-minute substitute in the 3-1 home loss to struggling SV Werder Bremen, but savoured the atmosphere inside the VELTINS Arena in spite of the result.
"It was my first game in the VELTINS Arena as a Schalke player," Belhanda told the club's official website. "I already knew the stadium because I had played here with Montpellier a few years ago in the Champions League, so I had an idea of how good the atmosphere is. It's really good fun to play in front of these fans and I'm looking forward to celebrating my first win on home turf."
The next opportunity for victory at the VELTINS will come against VfL Wolfsburg on Matchday 20, but before that Belhanda and Schalke face a tricky test at SV Darmstadt 98. To take three points and give their European qualification bid a shot in the arm, the Royal Blues require improvement in one area in particular, according to Belhanda. "We started really well [against Bremen] and scored the early goal," he said. "It was going well but unfortunately we went on to miss chance after chance and that meant that after Bremen scored a second it became really difficult for us. We'll need to improve in Darmstadt."
Belhanda's view of proceedings was echoed by his team-mate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. "You can hardly believe we lost when you look at the first-half performance," the Dutchman told reporters after the game. "That was our best half of the season. We played really well, linked up impressively from back to front and created several chances. Unfortunately, though, we didn't score enough goals from those chances. Sometimes we were unlucky, for example when we hit the woodwork.
"We definitely need too many chances for goals," Huntelaar said. "Or at least we did in this game [against Bremen]. But I’m convinced that will change soon."