If the goals have dried up for Schalke, for Mark Uth, this is a drought. Despite scoring the winning penalty in a shootout win over Cologne, the Germany striker has gone nearly 17 hours without scoring for his new club.
Forget the blood, the screams and the ghosts. It’s a terrifying number that will haunt Mark Uth on Halloween evening. The former Hoffenheim hit man has now gone 999 minutes without landing a proper punch for the Royal Blues.
The striker prevented another Schalke emergency when he netted the winner in a 6-5 shootout victory over Cologne (1-1 after extra time), but the fact Uth stepped up seventh speaks volumes about his lack of confidence.
Schalke have not exactly been free-scoring themselves this season — Nabil Bentaleb’s injury time equalizer from the spot was their first goal for nearly 400 minutes — but it’s fair to say this isn’t what the Royal Blues expected when they signed the Cologne-born forward on a free.
Slow start in Gelsenkirchen
By this stage last season, Uth had scored eight. By the time Schalke announced his future arrival in January of this year, four more had arrived. He’d finish the campaign with 17 goals, one every 155 minutes.
Uth was 10 games into his current run when he was called up for the Germany squad for the first time, winning a first cap in the3-0 Nations League defeat to the Netherlands. He didn’t score.
There are mitigating factors. While he had five shots in 120 minutes against second tier Cologne, none of them were in clear-cut positions, while he has also been utilized in a much deeper role by Domenico Tedesco at times this season.
He’s also gone from Julian Nagelsmann, a coach happy to outscore the opposition, to Domenico Tedesco, one whose conservatism is starting to catch up with him.
Not the only guilty party
In contrast to Hoffenheim last term, where Serge Gnabry, Kerem Demirbay and Andrej Kramaric could all ease the weight on Uth’s shoulders, Schalke’s lack of quality in attacking areas is becoming more apparent by the match.
Tedesco’s men have scored 10 in their 14 games this term. None of their striking options has ever got more than 15 in a league season at any level and their ponderous attacks frequently run out of steam in the final third, with Daniel Caligiuri the only player regularly capable of offering a spark of production.
But Uth isn’t the only one of Schalke’s summer signings who has failed to find his form. His former Hoffenheim teammate Sebastian Rudy, signed to add class and nous to the midfield, has had difficulties nailing down a first team spot in a side threatened by relegation while fellow central midfielders Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar have so far proved significant downgrades on Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer.
Tedesco must now hope that Uth’s rediscovery of the ball hitting the net sparks a fire in the man most likely to get him goals.