BERLIN - Schalke 04 coach Felix Magath has been fighting a running battle with his own fans for months and if his team fails to move past Valencia on Wednesday in the Champions League he can expect an even rougher ride.
Schalke fans unfurled a huge banner during their 1-0 defeat to VfB Stuttgart on Saturday reading "Magath out" in the latest twist of their strained relationship and the 57-year-old knows too well the power his fans yield in Gelsenkirchen.
With last season's Bundesliga runners-up languishing in 10th place in the league, the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie after a 1-1 draw in Spain is the perfect opportunity to restore harmony.
"If you take on responsibilities then you cannot just have people who support you. I can live with that," Magath told reporters.
"I am not concerned about my job."
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Valencia would do well not to interpret Schalke's internal crisis as a sign of weakness. Schalke's Bundesliga season was in tatters after only a few weeks but they still managed to advance to the Champions League knockout stage, topping their group.
The Germans have also seen the return of Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to training this week but it is still too soon to decide whether he will be able to play.
"We need to wait and see how the knee reacts," said Magath.
Compared to Schalke, Valencia had the ideal preparation for the trip to Gelsenkirchen, securing third place in La Liga for another week with a 2-1 win away to Real Mallorca on Saturday.
It was their third away match in a row where they came back from a goal down to win 2-1, winger Pablo Hernandez scoring twice.
"Today's victory was very important with regards to the match against Schalke," Valencia coach Unai Emery told reporters.
"We're really looking forward to the game, we have four days to prepare now and to completely focus on it knowing it will be very tough.
"It is going to be an important examination for us all, and we are going to study hard to make sure we can win it. We'll be going to try and score and to try and improve in defence in attack from the first leg."
Experienced midfielders David Albelda and Joaquin are back from injury, as is striker Aritz Aduriz, who has been out for four weeks with a twisted ankle.
All three had a run out against Mallorca when Roberto Soldado, top scorer in the Champions League with six goals, was rested.comments