Schalke 04 season has gone from bad to worse in a matter of days as the club have suspended two key players in under 24 hours since the side went down 2-0 to a Cologne side.
The result on Sunday seriously threatens the German side's chances of Europa League football, having slipped away from the automatic places, a resurgent Dortmund are hot on the heels of Schalke, are only two points behind the side and further gaining momentum.
The cracks are starting to show once again as Roberto Di Matteo's early season wobbles are turning into stumbles at the most important point in the season. A side that has been fractured for most of the season, often being criticised for playing boring and uneventful football are starting to unravel under the pressure and poor morale is a key contributor.
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One of the players to blame for this, according to Sporting director Horst Heldt, is Kevin Prince Boateng, a player who is never shy on confrontation. Boateng has fallen out with almost every club, and even his country pointing to the Ghana players strike in last summer's World Cup for reference.
This time however, Boateng isn't the only one ruffling feathers, as Sidney Sam has also been disciplined, with both players being suspended from the club with immediate effect.
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Horst Heldt, declared that the issue was, “a problem of loyalty” suggested the waning confidence and spirit has been down to a couple of players in the camp. On the clubs website, Heldt made the following statement:
“We have the feeling that the level of trust is no longer there and we're not convinced that they can help us in the two remaining games against Paderborn and Hamburg.”
Both Sidney Sam and KP Boateng are prestigious players, and would not be without potential suitors lining up a bid for them if the suspension is to stick, which looks like a damning conviction considering Heldt declared the players no longer had a future at the club.
It is still unknown to the fans what exactly Schalke's stars did to offend so profusely; beit a culmination of things building up or in fact an issue surrounding the defeat and the infamous hot-headedness of Boateng coming to the fore it's not as clear cut as the air of mystery circulates around the Velkins Arena.
Schalke's season was to peter out with little or no consequence and an anonymous ending to a boring campaign looked on the cards, however with two games to go to save their season, having just sacked two key players and morale at an all time low it looks as if the stakes couldn't get any higher.
The last two games of the season are going to feel all the more important in what is a time of mad uncertainty for Schalke fans. Rarely do we see a more direct effect from the board on the team and possibly the season as Heldt could have possibly sealed his team's fate, for better, or for worse.