Schalke 04 showed sparks of life later in the match and there’s a reason why. David Wagner must start choosing his players differently.
One thing about David Wagner‘s Schalke 04 starting XI was painfully obvious—over half of the players starting the match would not be with the club come next year. Whether it be loans or contracts expiring, six guys—six!—had relatively nothing invested in the long-term consequences of the match.
That’s not acceptable. Now, for some guys like Jonjoe Kenny (who played terrible, by the way), I get it. Who else are we going to start? But guys like Caligiuri, Michael Gregoritsch, Alexander Nubel? Why are these guys getting minutes over Nassim Boujellab, Ahmed Kutucu, and Markus Schubert?
We saw the consequences too. Throughout that entire first half, the only fire I saw was from guys like Weston McKennie and Rabbi Matondo. They were fighting hard, even with their complete lack of involvement from the Royal Blues being on the back foot.
David Wagner must reevaluate Schalke 04’s starters
Why were they fighting hard? Because they have a vested interest in the long-term consequences of each individual match.
When the second half rolled around, we saw more fire, more fight, and guess why? Kutucu, Boujellab, and Raman all came on relatively early—three more guys that will be here next year, that hope to be a part of the big picture for next year.
It’s really not that hard. It’s why I, and many others, have been crying out for short-term guys to be kicked to the bench and the future of the club—even just guys who will be here next year—moved to the forefront. There’s no reason why Boujellab and Kutucu couldn’t have started. What are you saving them for?
When you choose your starting XI for a team that has no present-day aspirations, don’t think about what will help the present situation the most. Think about what will help the future the most, and right now, that’s just getting more minutes for these young players that hope to power a much more successful era of the club.
Does a player have a vested interest in what the current match means to the future? If not, don’t start them. It’s that simple.
Maybe, given the second-half spark, David Wagner will have seen what happens when he plays guys that care. And maybe—I’m going to get really optimistic here—he’s going to do something about it.