At the start of the campaign, Schalke were rated as FC Bayern München's biggest rivals for the Bundesliga title and were also expected to do well in the UEFA Champions League despite this being only their second season in the competition. However, after six Bundesliga games and one in Europe, Rangnick - who led the side from the relegation zone to a runners-up finish in the league last season - has started to come under pressure for the first time since taking charge of the Royal Blues.
Funnily enough, some of the discontent was sparked by general manager Rudi Assauer's comments after the 1-0 defeat at PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 1. "Our display was an insult and we will have to talk about it - and I mean talking to the coach too," he said. A goalless draw against Hertha BSC Berlin and a 1-1 draw at 1. FC Nürnberg courtesy of a second-half Søren Larsen strike did not help matters. That prompted midfield player Hamit Altintop to say: "We should have a meeting so that we know what we are supposed to be doing on the field."
On Saturday, however, the team showed that the Turkish international, dropped for his comments, stands alone in his criticism of the coach. After Lincoln gave Schalke the lead in the 2-0 win against Hannover 96, he and all of the other players made a point of running to Rangnick to celebrate the goal. "The coach's position shouldn't be discussed," said the Brazilian goalscorer. "He looks after all the players in the squad and I can assure you that none of us have a problem with him. He has done an excellent job since joining Schalke."
Striker Kevin Kuranyi, who struck the second goal in the win against Hannover, added: "
The whole discussion is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard. At least the win has quietened some people down and it has also given us the boost we need for the upcoming tasks."
With an extremely important Group A match against AC Milan up next for Schalke tonight, the players and their coach are eager to continue where they left off against Hannover and further ease the pressure on the 47-year-old coach by recording a good result against Carlo Ancelotti's side. "We were criticised for our performances earlier this season and it gelled us together as a team," said midfield player Fabian Ernst. "Now we must roll up our sleeves, get stuck in and concentrate on winning games again."
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