The situation with Bild’s reporting on Schalke players this week has been approaching bizarre. The German club have lost all five of their Bundesliga games so far this season and are rock bottom of the table.
In that situation it would be expected that the manager Markus Weinzierl and sporting director Christian Heidel would be receiving huge criticism, along with the players.
Weinzierl and Heidel only arrived over the summer and whilst Schalke often seem to be a few days away from a crisis, this low is unprecedented.
However, for Bild it’s been almost exclusively the players. A constant stream of insults and accusations questioning the character of individual players, many of them youngsters, whilst leaving the manager and his boss almost completely clean.
For Tottenham Hotspur it’s concerning for Nabil Bentaleb, who is on loan at Schalke for the season. The Tottenham youngster is one of the players repeatedly named in the Bild articles.
It’s got so silly that it’s probably worth having a rundown of some of the things levelled at Bentaleb.
September 19th: Bild say there’s a ‘mentality misery’ with Bentaleb and Stambouli and state the pair made ‘hair-raising’ ball losses in the last match.
They go on to quote Heidel as saying that perhaps there’s a touch of arrogance “Since both were recently highly praised.”
The person who had been doing the praising was Heidel, vastly overhyping his new recruits to a level they’d simply not reach immediately, if ever.
September 25th: Bild have an article labelling Heidel a ‘shopping king’ and say that Bentaleb was set to be Schalke’s ‘midfield boss’.
September 26th: Despite their praise the day before, Bild name Bentaleb as one of the ‘Schalke Slackers’ along with Benjamin Stambouli, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Baba Rahman, Leon Goretzka, Klaas jan Huntelaar, Breel Embolo, Max Meyer and Franco Di Santo.
Again it was stated there’s an arrogance in the Tottenham midfielder’s play.
September 27th: Bentaleb is named by Bild along with Stambouli, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Baba Rahman as seeing Schalke as a springboard, and therefore not putting enough effort in.
Other players are pinpointed for other failings, and it’s stated manager Weinzierl is set to have a team meeting to sort it all out.
September 28th: Bild say sporting director Heidel has shown his Schalke Slackers a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation on the values of the club.
Also September 28th: Bild publish an article again referring to Heidel’s belief that there’s a lack of character, and a poor mentality among some players.
Bentaleb and Stambouli are labelled egotists, and not the type of players you need in a crisis. Bild say both can be leaders when things are going well, but when things aren’t it’s stated they drag the troops down and make mistakes.
Other players are then criticised for their various skill or personality failings.
If this was just Tottenham owned Bentaleb, or even just Bentaleb and former Tottenham player Stambouli, then there may be a case for believing the players have a complete lack of character, don’t respect Schalke and are lazy. However, the number of players named looks like a concentrated effort to shift blame.
Bentaleb is 21 years of age, he’d never played in Germany before this season, and completed his loan move around a month ago. He’s started 4 games, coming on as a late substitute in another, and over the past few days seen his character and mentality torn to shreds.
The criticism and nature of it is increasingly strange. Bentaleb hadn’t played for Tottenham since February and barely got much game time last season.
He’s had suggestions of attitude thrown at him before, but to expect such a young footballer, who hasn’t played regularly for a long time, to move to a new club and league and automatically be a saviour and leader is ridiculous.
To then go after him the way Bild have is curious to say the least. This is one Tottenham should be keeping an eye on, because if Schalke are playing media blame games then they’re clearly not very good at them, which seems a general theme for the club so far this season.