Schalke 04’s search for a successor to Frank Kramer has been concluded successfully, with the appointment today of 49-year-old Thomas Reis on a contract until 2024 with the salary reported to be in the region of €1.6m per season. In addition, Bochum will receive €300,000 compensation and save €470,000 in salary.
A popular player at Bochum, Reis proved his doubters at VfL wrong in the past two seasons with a combination of shrewd transfers and an effective if unattractive style of football. Reis’s VfL gained admirers and detractors alike with a game plan based on defensive qualities and high pressing.
Bochum’s team were built on low-cost but highly effective talents like goalkeeper Manuel Riemann, left-back Kostas Stafylidis and midfielder, Elvis Rexhbecaj, strikers Simon Zoller and then striker Robert Žulj.
In 2019/20, the club finished in 8th place. This was followed by the 2. Bundesliga title and automatic promotion to the Bundesliga the following year. With one of the league’s best defensive records in the Bundesliga last season, Bochum finished in a highly impressive 11th.
The VfL team which has a value of just €40m sold several leading players in the summer which included centre-back Armel Bella-Kotchap, who joined Southampton. A poor start to the 2022/23 season resulted in Reis being fired after the poor showing in the 1-1 against Cologne with the club rooted to the bottom of the table with just one point from eight games.
The former Eintracht Frankfurt defender made 176 appearances for Bochum between 1995-2003, scoring 18 goals. Although Reis was not called up by the senior team, he was called up at all levels by Germany from U15-U21 levels.
After retiring from his active career Reis was appointed head coach of the second team in Bochum in 2014. He was active as a scout at the club before then taking over the first team from Robin Dutt in 2019 with the club in the penultimate position in the 2. Bundesliga. The Reis turnaround was impressive and resulted in promotion to the Bundesliga and a lot sooner than was expected and as champions at the end of last season.
Schalke coach and club icon Mike Büskens unexpectedly quit after getting the 7-time German champions and fierce rivals of Borussia Dortmund promoted last season. He was followed by Arminia Bielefeld coach Frank Kramer who was released from his contract last week following Schalke’s 5-1 defeat in the DFB Pokal by Hoffenheim.
‘Die Knappen’ find themselves in the middle of a relegation battle and they may have exactly the right kind of ‘fighter’ needed with the former Bochum coach.
Having lost their main sponsor Gazprom and with a debt of €17m, Schalke did not spend heavily in the summer but Reis inherits a team with a solid array of talent including Swiss right-back Cedric Brunner, Maya Yoshida who joined from Sampdoria in the summer, striker Simon Terodde, centre-back Sepp van den Berg and Swedish forward Jordan Larsson.
However Reis will need to focus on renewing the team which is one of the oldest in the league with an average age of 27. It will be interesting to see what funds S04 will make available in the January transfer window. Reviersport report that former chairman and club sponsor Clemens Tönnies may be considering investing in the club although it is unlikely he will be re-joining the board after the row that led to his dismissal in 2021. A further factor is that at this time with the debt burden of the club it is unlikely that a lot of the additional money could be invested in full in further players.
Reis will be joined by assistant Markus Gellhaus (52) and their first match at the helm will be Schalke’s 18:30 (CET) kick off on Sunday 30 at home to Freiburg.
GGFN | Ben McFadyean