Schneider's Schalke switch catches Leipzig's Rangnick off guard


Berlin (AFP)

RB Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick admits the sudden departure of Jochen Schneider to be head of sports at Bundesliga rivals Schalke caught him by surprise.

Schneider quit Leipzig to move to Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke on Tuesday after predecessor Christian Heidel resigned when last Saturday's 3-0 drubbing by Mainz left the Royal Blues with 12 defeats in 23 league games this season.

Rangnick is both sports director and head coach at Leipzig, so Schneider's sudden decision to quit left him without a key member of staff.

"It hit me and the club very hard and unexpectedly," said Rangnick on Friday ahead of Leipzig's match at bottom side Nuremberg on Saturday.

Leipzig are fourth in the Bundesliga, on course for the Champions League next season, while Schalke are just seven points from the relgation places.

The Royal Blues are enduring one of the worst seasons in the club's history, but Rangnick said he understood Schneider's decision.

The 60-year-old Rangnick first got wind of Schneider's wish to leave on Saturday, but after Leipzig's 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim on Monday, it was clear he was going.

"He told me that he really wanted to go - he was an ardent Schalke fan as a boy," said Rangnick, who has twice been head coach of Schalke.

"So I could totally understand it, when you get a chance like that, you can't deny someone that."

Rangnick says Schneider's responsibilities will be shared amongst Leipzig's coaching staff and they hope to permanently fill the job once the season has finished.

"We've decided to cover that with the existing staff, so I'm sure a bit more work will come my way," said Rangnick.

"We'll do it for the next two to three months," he said.