Just twelve days on from being appointed Schalke coach, Domenico Tedesco told reporters he already had a “very good feeling,” about his new role at the helm of the Bundesliga titans.
The 31-year-old joined the growing list of highly talented, young Bundesliga tacticians when replacing the outgoing Markus Weinzierl at the Royal Blues recently. And in his first official press conference at the Veltins-Arena, Tedesco said the task of reviving the Gelsenkirchen giants was one to be relished. “Schalke is no ordinary club and I wouldn’t have given up my [previous] job at [2. Bundesliga team Erzgebirge] Aue lightly,” he said. “I would not be sitting here if I were not convinced by the quality of this team.”
Shalke endured a disappointing 2016/17 campaign – finishing tenth in the Bundesliga and failing to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2010 – leading to Weinzierl’s dismissal. “It's obvious that the direction we want to be heading in is toward Europe,” Schalke’s sporting director Christian Heidel explained when talking of the Royal Blues’ expectations under their new coach.
For that goal to be realised, Tedesco said, “We will need a strong group, a strong team behind the team; this will not be a one-man show. We want to have people who think outside the box. We are having good talks with potential candidates for the coaching team. For me, that's the foundation for a successful job.”
Another crucial element will be the players Tedesco has at his disposal and the style in which he chooses to play, both factors put to the former Stuttgart and Hoffenheim youth coach at his official unveiling. “The quality of the players is paramount and we will create the conditions for those qualities to flourish,” he explained. “[If a particular player isn’t playing] it's important for me that they know why they aren't in the starting XI or squad. That's what I am here for. [In terms of our style] we want to be flexible and orientate ourselves around both our players and our opponents.”
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Beginning by thanking the outgoing Weinzierl and admitting his parting from the club had been a “difficult decision,” Heidel soon turned his attention to the new man at the helm. “In Domenico, we have found a coach who embodies exactly what Schalke needs; I have been watching him for a long time,” the sporting director said. “We wanted a coach who is very tactically accomplished. Him being younger than his predecessor is fine; the decision has been backed by the whole club.”
Having studied alongside Hoffenheim sensation Julian Nagelsmann , comparisons with the young tactician were quickly raised at Tedesco’s maiden appearance in front of the Gelsenkirchen-based media. “The comparisons with Nagelsmann don't bother me. They are natural because we are both young and from Hoffenheim,” he said. Indeed, the Italian-born Tedesco – who successfully led Aue to second-division safety last term – beat Nagelsmann to the Coach of the Year award among a group of fellow trainees in 2016. What better omen for success for Schalke’s new man than that?
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