Jochen Schneider, welcome to Schalke. After Christian Heidel stepped down, there were many names circulating for the position. However, Jochen Schneider was not one of them.
It says a lot about FC Schalke 04. Together, we worked very professionally to conclude the agreements, as no information was leaked to the media, also from my ex-club RB Leipzig. That suited the way I work too. I’m not the sort of guy who wants to blab about things or see my face in the paper every day. My job is to collaborate well with a strong team. It’s always been the way I have worked and it will stay that way.
At VfB Stuttgart, you worked twice with Huub Stevens, who has since June 2018 joined the FC Schalke 04 board. Did he play a big role in your hiring?
During our time together, I got to know and appreciate Huub Stevens very well. Appointing him as head coach twice proved to be a great decision as he took over VfB in a difficult situation and let them to safety. Our past experiences together definitely didn’t hinder FC Schalke 04 appointing a new Head of Sport. I have known Clemens Tönnies for a long time too. We negotiated Horst Heldt’s move to Schalke around nine years ago.
I am not the type to blab about things or want to see my face in the paper.
You recently watched the 0- 4 defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf in the VELTINS-Arena. What did you think about the game and the events after the final whistle?
The game was of course not the best. Therefore, I can understand the frustration of the fans. They come with big expectations to the stadium and unfortunately left the stadium bitterly disappointed, not for the first time this season. We have to turn it around. The team, the coaching team, the club, the employees and the fans all need to work together.
What tasks are your priority?
First and foremost, an analysis is necessary: What do I find in the sporting department. The most important thing of course is to cope with the current situation and at the same time see what we can do to improve in the future. If I have learned one thing in the past years, it is to create a structure, to focus on the essentials and try new things. I will tackle the tasks ahead with prudence but at the same time make decisions when necessary.
How would you evaluate the current position in the league?
It is critical. We can’t be in denial about it. It would be nice if we could plan long-term, but that can’t happen yet. We need to focus on making the current situation better and ensure the team gets enough points and to climb up the table.
Recently, it was said that in addition to you as Head of Sport, there will be more new faces in the club. What do these plans look like?
The many tasks that occur every day can’t be done by one person alone. Other clubs of a similar level in size have grown and have shared responsibilities over several heads. We will do that and install a technical director in addition to a new sporting director.
The current position in the table is critical. We can’t be in denial about it.
Have you set a timeframe to get the new people in?
When selecting suitable people, quality is much more important to me than the speed of the implementation. Only quality brings us forward. I already have some clear ideas in mind. The technical component is extremely important, but also the teamwork with each other must be right. Only when everyone works together, can we bring Schalke 04 forward. It’s a team effort.
Ralf Rangnick regrets that you have left your position in Leipzig because he very much appreciated you and the work that you did. But he is also very happy for you especially due to your fondness of FC Schalke 04.
I’ve known Ralf Rangnick for over 25 years. I have a soft spot for Schalke and he didn’t forget (grins). I told him back when he was a coach at Schalke.
You were born in southern Germany and brought up there. How did you get round to supporting Schalke?
Through my uncle, who was ten years older than I was, but unfortunately died too early. He was a huge Schalke fan. We were brought up like brothers and he influenced me in many ways. Also in football. To tell the truth, it is also true I formed an attachment with VfB Stuttgart as I worked with them for a total of 19 years.
Klaus Fischer was the hero of my childhood.
You began your time in the Bundesliga at VfB, working alongside manager Rolf Rüssmann, who was a leading figure at Schalke and was part of the team that finished second and won the DFB-Pokal in 1972.
Rolf Rüssmann, who, unfortunately died too soon, was a real father figure to me. The two years I spent working by his side were perhaps the best of my career so far.
What fascinated you about Schalke 04 when you were younger?
Klaus Fischer! I saw my first ever live football game when I was seven, back in November 1977. Germany played Switzerland in Stuttgart and Klaus Fischer scored the „Goal of the Century“. I can still remember it exactly: Rüdiger Abramczik put the cross in and Klaus Fischer scored the overhead kick. Fischer and Karlheinz Förster were my childhood heroes. I saw him before the game against Düsseldorf on Saturday, which was a very nice moment.