- Weinzierl happy with his first week as Schalke coach.
- Former Augsburg coach feels his team have become united during trip to China.
- Hard work ahead as Schalke step up pre-season preparations.
Markus Weinzierl can see a team forming at FC Schalke 04 after the conclusion of their first week spent together in China.
As part of the Bundesliga World Tour, the Royal Blues commenced their preparations for the 2016/17 Bundesliga season on the other side of the world. It was unfamiliar surroundings for everybody, including the former FC Augsburg coach who was plunged right in at the deep end at his new club.
"The trip alone helped our team building," said Weinzierl on schalke04.de. "We had a lot of opportunities to get to know each other better. It was a very positive experience. Our surroundings were very good and I can't identify any negative aspects. It was a good start."
Getting off on the right foot is only the start for the new man calling the shots in Gelsenkirchen. Each step he takes will be scrutinised by an expectant fan base, desperate to see their club return to UEFA Champions League football at the earliest opportunity.
Weinzierl delivered what the fans in Augsburg wanted – and then some – during five successful years in Bavaria and he is following a clearly defined plan to ensure he gets things right with Schalke too. "In our next ten days we will play four games and we want to score a lot of goals in those," he said. "Then we will have another phase where we will again train intensively."
That phase will include the eagerly-anticipated arrival of summer signing Breel Embolo, as well as Germany internationals Benedikt Höwedes and Leroy Sane. Once Weinzierl has his squad complete, the hard work will intensify further.
"During our training camp in Austria (1 to 8 August) we will play friendlies with Bologna and Fiorentina, two very tough opponents with quality in their squad and they will push us to the limit," Weinzierl said. "After that we're almost at the start of the season with the first DFB Cup round coming up. And then we will look forward to the start of the Bundesliga campaign."
Schalke begin their challenge for glory with a trip to Eintracht Frankfurt on the first weekend of the season (27/28 August) before being given an early test of their credentials at home to the defending champions FC Bayern München on Matchday 2. "Everything's positive – the lads are nice and the atmosphere is good," added Weinzierl. "I can't see anything negative."