Magath shrugs off Schalke woes

Manager insists club can resolve financial problems as pressure to sell mounts
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The Independent Football

The Schalke manager Felix Magath has played down the seriousness of his club's financial problems.

The German Football League (DFL) is awaiting information from the club following media reports of serious debts. But Magath, who has led the club to fourth place in the Bundesliga after 10 games of the season, is remaining calm about the issue, even if he is beginning to accept that he may have to sell players this winter.

"We will get the finances under control," Magath said. "We could do with a few more euros, but we will get these." Magath does not believe the club will have to seek external help to pay wages, but admitted he would be open to anything.

The most likely source of new funding would be the sale of players. The goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is attracting the interest of Bayern Munich, who have also already made a bid for full-back Rafinha, which was refused. Furthermore Albert Streit, who does not figure in Magath's plans, is a high earner playing for the reserves.

Elsewhere Bayern Munich's club doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt has confirmed that Franck Ribery is making good progress in his recovery from a persistent knee problem. The Frenchman has been absent for almost a month due to tendinitis in his left knee and it was feared he may need an operation that would rule him out until next March, but Muller-Wohlfahrt believes he could be back before the end of the year.

"Franck is doing a lot better," he said. "We will follow his progress for a month and then re-evaluate. We cannot definitely exclude an operation, but I currently favour a more conventional treatment."

Ribery has already been ruled out of France's World Cup play-off matches against the Republic of Ireland next month, but he could still play a part in some of Bayern's final fixtures of 2009, should he continue to make good progress. "It is certainly foreseeable for him to return before the end of the year," Muller-Wohlfahrt told L'Equipe newspaper.

However, according to the club's president, Franz Beckenbauer, even that may be too late to save his side's hopes of success this season. Beckenbauer believes the 26-year-old is a fundamental part of the team and that his side risks losing more matches before he returns.

"Franck Ribery has made the difference in the last two years and when he is not there, then the other players don't have something to orientate themselves around," he said. "We have got to make do with being primitive now. We cannot expect anything magical. We can only expect that when Ribery is back and when [Arjen] Robben is fit again."

Bayern currently lie fifth in the Bundesliga, four points behind the league leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg. However, their future in the Champions League is hanging in the balance after a 2-1 defeat at Bordeaux last week. They need to beat the French side at the Allianz Arena next week or risk losing ground on the top two in their group.

The former Bayern captain Oliver Kahn believes Louis van Gaal must stop tinkering with his team. The new Bayern coach has made at least one change for each of the first 10 games of the season and Kahn believes this experimentation needs to stop if success is to return to the record German champions.

"This permanent testing, bringing new players in, switching the system and then sitting them back on the bench is always a problem," Kahn said. "Thepredicaments of Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Mario Gomez support Kahn's views. Both were signed in the summer, but neither have been able to hold down a regular place in Van Gaal's team. It is already being speculated that Tymoschuk will return to Zenit St Petersburg in the winter while Gomez has promised he will not stick around if he does not get more action.