Schalke 04: One key thing Weston McKennie must learn to do

Schalke 04, Weston McKennie (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Weston McKennie (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

Weston McKennie has long been one of Schalke 04’s biggest treasures and he is developing quite well, but there’s one crucial thing he still needs to learn to do.

This season has been a breakout year for Weston McKennie. Even with the injury interruptions, we have seen more of his wonderful potential turn into a finished product this year than ever before and Schalke 04 is all the better off because of it.

His decision making in taking defensive action is much more controlled, as he has cut down on fouls and cards, and he’s had much more of a creative eye this year too, though it’s still definitely a work in progress.

All that is great, and Weston McKennie will continue to grow and develop, but the next step in his progression has to be learning to do something that goes completely against his programming—he has to learn to chill. To just settle down and not try to build a castle all in one sitting.

Schalke needs then best Weston McKennie, and he’s almost there

We saw it a lot against Dortmund. McKennie did a great job winning the ball back, but after doing so, he would force the issue. He would try to ram the counter down Dortmund’s throat and they were just too good to allow that.

Sometimes it’s okay to just chill and let the momentum of play take shape around you. You don’t always have to make an immediate, snap decision. In fact, that’s one thing that McKennie and Suat Serdar seriously struggled with. They could not establish any kind of midfield presence. Omar Mascarell’s absence is a big reason why, but they also do not possess the inclination to sit back and control possession. It’s always go, go, go.

I get the impulse, as Dortmund were taking control of the game. Of course, they want to push the issue when they get the ball. But this has been a factor all year. Sometimes it works well, like when Schalke is dominating a match. But it’s also a contributing favor when a match gets out of hand. You have to know how to take the sting out of the other team’s attack, and that comes with just settling in, getting comfortable, and chilling.

This is the No. 1 thing I miss about not having Mascarell. There’s no chill on this midfield. Without that chill, we are left in a frantic battle of keeping up and, spoiler alert, we’ve been losing that battle time and time again.

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Maybe that isn’t in McKennie’s repertoire and maybe it never will be. But it would be nice if he could just take the ball and follow it up with a deep breath. Just every once in a while. That’s not too much to ask, is it?