White shirt, dark blue jacket and the parting neatly laid: Peter Knäbel was extremely serious and energetic in his presentation as the new sports director of Schalke 04. The fact that he was probably not the ideal solution for the troubled Bundesliga club did not bother the 54-year-old.
“It’s not a problem for me at all,” said Knäbel about the fact that he was only appointed after Ralf Rangnick, Rouven Schröder and Markus Krösche rejected him. “I started to help, worked and I plan to continue to do so,” emphasized the new head of sports.
Since the end of February, the ex-professional had already been temporarily working in the office, initially without any ulterior motive to take over the job on a long-term basis. Then the situation changed, Knäbel admitted. He is happy that he is supported by characters like Mathias Schober, Norbert Elgert, Gerald Asamoah and Mike Büskens. “We will shape the future of Schalke with Schalke for Schalke,” promised Knäbel.
Jens Buchta, head of the supervisory board, was relieved that a solution had been found “in this difficult situation”. Knäbel’s structural thinking, his first activities such as the transfer of Danny Latza and his immediate readiness were decisive in ensuring that the search for a sports director could be completed as planned by the end of March.
Knäbel admitted that the relegation from the Bundesliga as the tattered bottom can hardly be avoided. “Of course we’re not looking into the future naively and studying the second division very intensively,” he admitted. The new sports board spoke of a “long-distance run” without proclaiming immediate resurgence as the goal. “But I think we are obliged to have that claim,” said the new strong man: “Schalke with its size, tradition and fans belong in the Bundesliga.”
Schalke 04: Knäbel sees himself as “well positioned”
The sports board now wants to calmly examine the personnel of the wanted sports director. The squad for the new season should also soon take shape. A commitment from second division specialist Simon Terodde was also recently discussed. “The Task Force Management Planning meets twice a week,” said Knäbel: “We see ourselves in a good position.”
Previously, there had been the first positive signals in financial terms from important partners last week. Both main sponsor Gazprom and arena sponsor Veltins had declared that they would remain loyal to the traditional club, which was burdened with EUR 240 million in debt, even in the event of relegation to the second division. With twelve points behind the penultimate Arminia Bielefeld after 26 match days, this can hardly be avoided, on Saturday the Royal Blues will be guests at Bayer Leverkusen (3.30 p.m. / Sky).
The chairman of the supervisory board, Buchta, did not want to provide any information about Knäbel’s contract term, but appealed for more fair play in the club after the difficult weeks of intrigue and quarrels. “When you get e-mails and text messages that go as far as physical threats, including those of your own family, then you have reached a point where you have to say that we all have to step back a bit,” said Buchta.