The manager merry-go-round continued this past Thursday for Schalke, as Markus Weinzierl was sacked in favor of 31-year-old Domenico Tedesco. The Italian tactician Tedesco has just 11 matches under his belt in his managerial career, taking over the helm of 2. Bundesliga side Erzgebirge Aue on March 7 to finish off their campaign.
Straying away from the debate of whether this change was warranted, it doesn’t matter now, because Tedesco is in charge of Schalke as the club announced a two-year contract for the new man. All we have to look at is what Aue accomplished in the 11 matches under Tedesco’s leadership.
At first glance, the club underwent a very positive change under Tedesco, going from last place, 18th, to a 14th-place finish to avoid relegation in the two-month span. Aue gathered an impressive total of 20 points in 11 matches beginning on March 7th when Tedesco took over. In going 6-2-3, Aue’s goal differential was a respectable plus-four.
Taking a closer look at each match, Aue were fairly lucky to come away with the 20 points because of a large number of penalties. They beat last-place Karlsruher at home 1-0 via a 54th-minute penalty goal in Tedesco’s managerial-debut, and they managed a 1-1 draw at Bochum in his second match thanks to another penalty. They finally scored a goal from open play in Tedesco’s third match in charge, defeating a poor St. Pauli side 1-0 on their home turf. Aue followed that up with back-to-back impressive wins, 1-0 at a strong Union Berlin side and a 3-0 domination of 1860 Munich.
Tedesco’s first loss came at a poor Nurnberg side, 1-2, however Aue bounced back with a strong showing versus Hannover in a 2-2 draw. Aue finished their season with two wins at home against bottom-of-the-table sides Wurzburg and Kaiserslautern, and two road losses at stronger clubs in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf.
In total, six of Aue’s 14 goals in the 11 matches Tedesco managed were from the penalties spot, averaging a total of 1.27 goals per match. They allowed just nine goals in 11 matches (0.81 goals allowed per match).
Looking past just the goals, Aue were not particularly keen on possessing the ball under Tedesco. Aue had 50 percent possession or less in eight of 11 matches since March 7th. In addition, Aue out-shot their opponents in just four of 11 matches under Tedesco. Take that with a grain of salt, as possession and shots don’t tell the whole story, and admittedly, I did not watch an entire Erzgebirge Aue match this season. On paper though, Aue were rarely the clear-cut better team since Tedesco took over.
A couple of Aue’s eight non-penalty goals when Tedesco was at the helm were simply wonder strikes from Dmitri Nazarov in the final kick of the match versus Hannover to earn a draw and via a fortunate bounce and display of individual brilliance by Nicky Adler on this incredible scissor kick to beat St. Pauli.
To be fair, it seems like the managerial change at Aue worked and Tedesco motivated the players enough to work for some very positive results to avoid the drop zone.
The fact remains though that this is an unproven manager who has only managed at the 2. Bundesliga level. The risk that Christian Heidel is taking is very high by bringing in the second-youngest manager in Germany. We all know it can work though as Hoffenheim showed this past season with 28-year-old Julian Nagelsmann as manager. TSG miraculously finished fourth in the league in Nagelsmann’s first season, earning a Champions League play-off berth.
Weinzierl did not impress in his lone season in Gelsenkirchen and he had a massive falling out with star midfielder Yevhan Konoplyanka, but he made massive strides in years three and two while at Jahn Regensburg and Augsburg, respectively. Weinzierl took Jahn Regensburg from 15th in 3. Liga to 16th, to 8th and finally to 3rd in his four-year stint in Bavaria.
At Augsburg, Weinzierl had a disappointing first season (15th in Bundesliga), however they skyrocketed up the table to 8th place the following year and then to 5th and a Europa League spot in the 2014/15 campaign. Weinzierl has proven not once, but twice that given that extra year or two, he can take a club where they want to go.
However, Schalke fans are hoping that Tedesco will be the final round of this current coaching carousel happening in Gelsenkirchen.