11.03.2019 13:06 h

Tedesco hanging on as Schalke glumly head to Man City

Schalke travel to Manchester City for Tuesday's Champions League last 16 second leg with head coach Domenico Tedesco barely hanging onto his job and confidence at rock bottom.

City needed late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling to win the first leg 3-2 in Gelsenkirchen three weeks ago when the Germans shrugged off dreadful league form to produce a battling display.

However, Schalke's fortunes have nose-dived since, leaking 11 goals in three heavy defeats to leave them four points from the Bundesliga relegation places.

Tedesco, 33, has been told he has two games to prove himself.

Schalke's new sporting director Jochen Schneider says only good performances at City and home to third-placed RB Leipzig next Saturday can save Tedesco.

Man City have won their last nine games at the Etihad Stadium, but the Schalke squad are hoping for an unlikely away victory and want Tedesco to stay on.

"Of course we do - no one has ever said anything different," said striker Guido Burgstaller.

Despite playing well for 55 minutes at Werder Bremen on Friday, Schalke eventually lost 4-2 with Swiss striker Breel Embolo scoring the visitors' goals.

"No points, no big improvement. Hard times are waiting for us," admitted Austrian Burgstaller glumly, looking ahead to the game in Manchester.

"Things won't get easier, we have to be prepared for that."

Morale in the Schalke squad is so low after Friday's defeat that all the talk was on avoiding relegation, with the prospect of facing the Premier League leaders in their own backyard barely registering.

"This is not a pleasure trip," says Schneider.

"The anticipation is overshadowed by the situation in the Bundesliga."

Defeat in Bremen came on the back of last weekend's 4-0 thumping at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf and a 3-0 defeat at Mainz - three losses against mediocre mid-table opposition.

"It's difficult when we aren't rewarded for good phases," said Tedesco after his 14th defeat in 25 league games this term.

To compound their problems, Schalke's playmaker Daniel Caligiuri misses the trip to Manchester, sidelined for the next four weeks by a leg injury.

Likewise, striker Mark Uth and midfielder Amine Harit, who were dropped for the defeat at Bremen, have also been left out of the squad for Manchester for disciplinary reasons, but full-back Hamza Mendyl has been added.

It's all a far cry from last season when the Royal Blues finished second in the Bundesliga to qualify for the Champions League in Tedesco's first season.

Despite qualifying for the knockout stages in Europe, they have been no higher than 11th in the Bundesliga this campaign.

TV pundit and former Germany international Thomas Berthold suspects the club's senior figures are weighing up their options for the head coach role.

"The question is, what do you have for an alternative?" said Berthold.

"The team lacks confidence, each player is looking for some form and the defensive stability is missing."