Benedikt Howedes: Roberto Di Matteo must be tough on Schalke youngsters
Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes believes Roberto Di Matteo needs to show a firm hand as he attempts to restore discipline to his young players following defeat to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Three matches into new coach Di Matteo's reign at the club, the former Chelsea boss witnessed a 1-0 defeat at Leverkusen as the Royal Blues failed to score for the first time this season.
"The setback," German football magazine kicker headlined their story on Schalke's defeat, noting that in what was Di Matteo's first real test following home wins against Hertha Berlin and Sporting Lisbon, his side "was close to a refusal to attack" after creating just two chances on Saturday.
"Defenders and midfielders are also responsible for the buildup play," Di Matteo told his postgame news conference. "They have to support the attacking players."
In the absence of Kevin-Prince Boateng -- who has taken an attacking midfield role under Di Matteo -- Schalke still lacked firepower. This was also down to two youngsters Julian Draxler, 21, and Max Meyer, 19: The former struggled to be seen, and the latter -- a starter under former coach Jens Keller -- came off the bench as the third substitute two minutes from time.
"I don't know why the situation is like it is. Until now, the coach has not talked to me about this," Meyer told reporters after the match.
However, sporting director Horst Heldt hinted that the Germany under-21 international might not have given it his all in training, saying: "I understand that people are interested, but this topic is not important for us. The coach gets his own idea of every single player."
Speaking to kicker, Schalke captain Howedes added that Di Matteo's discipline is helping the team. "Let me put it that way: It's good for our team to have to abide by certain rules. We need tough targets to permanently be successful. We've got so much potential that it would be careless to gamble parts of that," he said.
Without naming specific players, Howedes hit out at the younger generation, saying: "Sometimes the young players lack the humility we had back in the days. They have high goals, but no longer the extreme ambition to settle in professional football. I see a lot of talented players, who rest on their talent and lack the final vigour."
Howedes also hopes that Di Matteo -- who coached Chelsea to a Champions League triumph in 2012 -- can also be a guide for the youngsters, as well as the other players.
"He has a great charisma, in the dressing room, but also in public. And a successful career is also helpful for him" he added.
"Everyone know that he has won the Champions League with matches against Barca and Bayern. They all said he had no chance, but he achieved it regardless. We all perceived it like that.
"But the most important thing remains his aura. When he enters the room it's clear that he is the boss."
Schalke currently sit 12th in the Bundesliga having picked up 11 points from their first nine games.