Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies has urged the Bundesliga side to get back on track after a terrible week in which the Royal Blues suffered humiliating losses to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
“To lose against those two teams [Real and Bayern] is not a surprise. But I can’t accept how we lost,” Toennies told RN.
Toennies visited the Royal Blues’ dressing room for the first time this season on Saturday, and later said: "I have urged players and the coaching staff to get back to our old strength in the upcoming match against Hoffenheim. That’s all I want from the team, nothing more and nothing less."
"It can’t get any worse than that," Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes told reporters in Munich. "That was epically embarrassing. We played liked schoolboys, abysmal."
Hoewedes’ words were echoed by the Royal Blues’ coach Jens Keller: "The first half was a disaster, the worst I have ever seen of us."
Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng just shook his head, and called the recent spell a "horror week."
The former AC Milan star told WAZ that the new Schalke tactics left many confused: "We tried a new formation. That was decided by the coach. We tried to implement it, but did not manage 100 percent, not even 10 percent."
Keller had ordered a defensive 4-5-1 formation, playing with three holding midfielders, but Bayern exploited the spaces in midfield with their passing approach. After 90 minutes, the statistics showed 76 percent possession of the ball for the Champions League holders.
"We had too many men in defence in the first half," said Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who only had 35 touches in 90 minutes against Bayern.
"When you run back as much as we did against Bayern, they are around our box with a lot of players. It’s hard to attack from there."
"We need to man up, start fighting and show the opponents that we are on the pitch as well," said goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann, who spared his team more embarrassment with a solid performance, particularly in the second half.
The club’s sporting director Horst Heldt attacked winger Jefferson Farfan for joking with fellow Peruvian Claudio Pizarro after the final whistle, but refused to put the defeat on coach Keller’s shoulders, stating: "It is up to the players to consider how they played this week and what can be done better.
"When we go [searching for] alibis now, it is the next wrong step," he said. "In the end it is down to the quality."
After collecting 13 points in the first five Bundesliga games in 2014, Schalke were on the brink of turning their season around before the recent drubbings.
The Royal Blues narrowed the gap to the direct Champions League spots to just one single point, and, through Bayer Leverkusen’s recent crisis, are still only two points adrift of third place.