• New Schalke coach under fire after worst start

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    BERLIN: Schalke’s Markus Weinzierl is under growing pressure ahead of Thursday’s Bundesliga clash at home to Cologne after becoming the first Royal Blues coach to lose his opening three league games.

    With his side second-from-bottom in the table, Schalke host Cologne in Gelsenkir­chen desperate for points following defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin, who beat them 2-0 on Sunday.

    The historic start to the season — Schalke had never before lost their opening three games — comes after a busy summer of vhange at the Veltins Arena.

    Swiss striker Breel Embolo, 19, was signed from Basel for 22 million euros ($24.5m), defender Abdul Rahman Baba was signed on loan from Chelsea while midfielder Max Mayer was away in Rio de Janeiro, impressing as he captained Germany to Olympic silver.

    Weinzierl was poached from Augsburg and new sports director Christian Heidel was recruited from Mainz.

    But they have had a dreadful start.

    Schalke won their opening Europa League match last Thursday 1-0 at Nice, but the new-look Royal Blues are struggling with the old problem of finding form in Germany’s top flight.

    “Now we face Cologne under even more pressure and must turn them over,” said Heidel.

    “Talk of unrest is being carried by the media, which is the way it always is at Schalke and we have to live with that.

    “Internally, there is no unrest here.”

    But the Schalke squad is restless following recent results.

    “I didn’t sleep much,” admitted midfielder Leon Goretzka on Monday after the defeat in Berlin.

    “There is no point sticking our heads in the sand.”

    Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes spoke to travelling Schalke fans after the Hertha defeat — and got a round of applause.

    “I told them that we didn’t play well, but we all have to stay calm,” said the Schalke captain.

    “That’s the only way we’ll get out of this together.”

    Heidel praised the fans for their reaction at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, “hats off, that could have gone very differently”, but he knows only a win against Cologne will sooth growing tensions.

    AFP

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