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Monday 11 December 2017

Schalke 'convinced' of Di Matteo call

Roberto Di Matteo is the new Schalke coach after the Bundesliga side acted quickly to replace outgoing boss Jens Keller yesterday.

The former Chelsea manager, who won the Champions League with the Blues in 2012, has been appointed to his first job since being dismissed by the Stamford Bridge club just under two years ago.

Di Matteo, who has signed a contract until 2017, inherits a talented but underperforming side that are currently 11th in the German top flight, but Schalke's director of sport Horst Heldt has backed the former Italy international to boost the club's fortunes.

"We are totally convinced that Roberto Di Matteo will stabilise the team and manage to reach our objectives in the Bundesliga and the Champions League," Heldt said.

"We wanted to breathe new life into the team with this change of coach."

The 44-year-old's first game in charge of the Gelsenkirchen club will be against Hertha Berlin on October 18 at the Arena AufSchalke.

He has taken on a squad full of talent, with youngsters such as Julian Draxler, Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka at his disposal, but they have struggled to find consistency so far this season.

In recent weeks they have beaten Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby, drawn with Maribor in the Champions League and then slumped to 2-1 defeat to Hoffenheim in Keller's final game at the weekend.

It is those inconsistencies that prompted Schalke to relieve Keller of his duties.

"The performances of the team in recent week have been characterised by severe fluctuations," Heldt said.

"Even the positive signs, such as the seven points in a week and the cherry on top coming from victory in the derby, failed to show any lasting effect.

"We were lacking the consistency that we need in order to be able to achieve the goals we have set. That is why we decided to make a break."

That break may not have come as a surprise, with Keller under particular scrutiny ever since he replaced Huub Stevens two years ago, but the timing is nevertheless unexpected.

Schalke were struggling at the foot of the table before recent wins over Werder Bremen and Dortmund lifted them to mid-table and cleared some of the storm clouds

But Keller, who has led the Royal Blues into the Champions League for two years running, has paid the price for not being able to win more often.

"Let's not forget that Jens Keller has done a good job over the last 22 months here," added Heldt.

"He took over the team in a difficult situation in December 2012 and led us to the group phase of the Champions League twice in a row, reaching the knockout stages each time.

"Furthermore, Jens has brought more talented players through from our youth academy and blooded them in the Bundesliga, and Schalke would like to express their thanks to him for that."

ends

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