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After the relegation of Schalke 04 : The decline is deserved - and it still hurts

The relegation of FC Schalke 04 was an open secret for a long time. Everyone knew it was happening. In the past few months there has been a lost game for every fan, after which the very last hope had to be buried (and still feared). So it's good that the relegation is official now - four game days before the end of the season. So the useless hope, arithmetic and trembling come to an end early. After all, it was all just a matter of time.

In practice, the lump in the fan neck is thick despite weeks of mental preparation for the inevitable. The long wait for certainty made us supporters try out various protective mechanisms: distance ourselves for weeks, only look cynically at the games or already plan out loud for the second division.

When Gerald Asamoah struggled for words with tears in his eyes after the 0: 1 in Bielefeld, his composure was over. Suddenly it hurts to sit alone in front of the television at this moment and not in the stadium with other fellow sufferers. A descent leaves no fan indifferent, no matter how hard you tell yourself to.

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No question about it, the decline is more than deserved. It has been a long time since a Bundesliga team had such a chance. Points, goals, conceded goals - Schalke are beaten everywhere. On and off the pitch, it was a season to forget. And yet the certainty hurts. At least the fans.

After all, this is about FC Schalke, a top team in the Bundesliga for years. 2018 runner-up, permanent guest in the European Cup for two decades and always an affair of the heart.
If you don't find this relegation a bit sad, you don't have a heart for football.

And anyone who has never heard the Schalke fans sing on the way from the stadium to the tram, crowded and polyphonic like a choir, cannot imagine what it means for the fans not to trip the hated rival Borussia Dortmund, at least in theory to be able to do if he is playing for the championship or in Europe.

Back to the roots

No, Schalke is more than the sum of its professionals who have failed so badly this season and most of whom the relegation should not really come close. There is hardly any other way of explaining how a team that was still properly occupied was no longer competitive in the past almost 18 months and was at times compared with Tasmania Berlin - a team that actually had no chance from the start.

But Schalke is a myth and that's why Schalke will come back. With a new hungry team, with players who know what it means to wear the royal blue jersey. Like youth player Timo Becker, who mourned alone in the guest bench on Tuesday evening and shed tears when his experienced colleagues had long since disappeared into the dressing room.

Becker comes from Gelsenkirchen. He wore the blue and white jersey for the first time when he was six years old. He knows what the club means for the city. Probably no other in Germany is so strongly perceived through its sports club. Schalke has 160,000 members - even Pope John Paul II was once one of them. In Germany only FC Bayern has more registered supporters.

They are all suffering now, but they are all united in the hope that things can only go up again from now on. Because Schalke is a painter's club, reflecting precisely on that is perhaps not the worst idea. Because even if the descent hurts, the club song says so beautifully: "A thousand friends standing together. Then FC Schalke will never go under. "

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