David Wagner keeps weeding out his striker options at Schalke 04, and hopefully he can weed Michael Gregoritsch out now too—and redirect him elsewhere.
Schalke 04 cannot score a goal to save their life right now, and David Wagner is at least semi-trying to figure out a striking combo that can turn that nasty streak around. His attempt against Augsburg involved putting Rabbi Matondo and Michael Gregoritsch up top—also known as two guys who aren’t naturally strikers.
Matondo is usually a winger and while Wagner has used Gregoritsch exclusively as a striker, his roots are more in the midfield, particularly the creative midfield.
Now, for the record, Gregoritsch played really hard. He attacked the ball, even if it never came off. In the air, while it’s not his strong suit, he did win nine aerial duels. None of them ended up on target, but it was still a threat.
Schalke can scratch Michael Gregoritsch off their striker list
Hopefully, what Wagner has finally learned is that Gregoritsch should not be included in our striker options. Same as Guido Burgstaller. However, the big difference between Burgstaller and Gregoritsch is that the latter has other faculties when he isn’t scoring.
Schalke has immense difficulties creating wholesome chances, and by entrusting him to be the top of the formation, you lose out on that eye for creation that he has, and that we have not yet seen from him being isolated.
It’s truly bizarre that Wagner still finds ways to staff this striker corps without Ahmed Kutucu, but my logic has always been that he is weeding out his options. Maybe that’s an optimistic take on just poor personnel choices, but in the spirit of weeding out the bad options, Gregoritsch can be safely weeded out in a good way. Ideally, he can be tried elsewhere, dropped into a creative capacity, so that we can try to get the most out of this failing loan move.
With Amine Harit and Suat Serdar now both injured, the need for creativity is even higher, and Alessandro Schopf can’t do it all. If there is even the smallest chance that Gregoritsch could provide a lift in the creative void while springing Kutucu to be the tip of the spear, the chance has to be taken.
It all comes down to David Wagner, though. When we first got Gregoritsch, I thought we were adding him as a creative midfielder, but we weren’t. It’s going to take a conscious change to alter the path now.