Schalke are in desperate need of leaders to lift the team in the wake of struggles and injuries, and David Wagner is right to look to Weston McKennie.
It’s pretty clear that FC Schalke are sputtering. They looked immune to injuries when Ozan Kabak stepped in for a battered defense, but things haven’t looked up since then. Even before the injuries continued to mount, the results stopped coming. The goals dried up. It’s been rough. But that’s okay because Weston McKennie is here.
It’s in moments like these that you desperately need players to step up and anchor the team. For a while there, that fell to the aforementioned Kabak and Omar Mascarell. Suat Serdar and Amine Harit were there in complementary roles.
As it stands, Kabak, Mascarell and Serdar are all injured and Amine Harit has been struggling with the team. So who then steps up? That’s obvious. Weston McKennie.
There’s a reason why Harit wasn’t able to lift the team. It’s the nature of the player. It’s not an indictment of Harit. He’s tremendous. But in terms of personality and leadership, he’s not that guy. He’s soft-spoken, plays the game out of the spotlight.
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McKennie though, McKennie is something more than that. He’s loud, both with his personality and with his play-style. He’s a leader. He’s not easily saddened. He does all the things you desperately need right about now.
That’s why David Wagner turned to him against Hoffenheim instead of what few other options he had. McKennie paid it off with a goal and a fantastic individual performance. It wasn’t enough to get the club back to winning, but they showed spirit, which is more than they’ve been able to say lately.
McKennie is a centerpiece kind of player. He’s the kind of guy that you want as the engine. So while things may not be ideal (far from it, actually), when there are still people like McKennie on board, who love the club and will fight for every blade of grass, there’s always hope that things can turn around and get better.
The Revierderby is next up for Die Knappen, and it’s easy to feel nervous. But as for me and my house, we will not fear, because Weston McKennie is here. He won’t need to be briefed on the importance of this match beyond just the rivalry. If Europa League hopes are still in play, it’s a must-win.