Can Bastian Schweinsteiger's return to the first-team improve Manchester United?
Football is a lonely profession, especially when things aren’t going your way. Bastian Schweinsteiger has had an extremely frustrating few months since the arrival of Jose Mourinho. The German hasn’t featured for the first team, been left out of the Europa League squad and faced the embarrassment of being left out of the seasonal team photograph. Many saw it as Mourinho trying to gain authority in the Manchester United dressing room, but it may have had the opposite effect. There is a way to sideline players that aren’t in your plans and it isn’t like this.
The German has been back training with the first team in recent days and this may be a case of Mourinho admitting he was wrong. Although Schweinsteiger isn’t the player he once was, he is popular among his peers and a good character to have around the dressing room. Given that this change of heart has coincided with Manchester United’s poor form, it could be that the players have demanded that the midfielder is reintegrated into the first team squad. Jose Mourinho desperately needs to end United’s recent slump and he recognises that it isn’t the time to make a power play.
Now he is back in first team training, the next step for Schweinsteiger is to get some competitive minutes under his belt. It will be interesting to see whether his return means that he is now being considered by Mourinho, or if it is only a token gesture to improve the morale in the squad. Even if he is being considered for selection, he will be some way short of match fitness and won’t be able to feature for a while. It could be that the former Chelsea manager is merely reminding the world that Schweinsteiger exists to try and increase the interest in him.
Manchester United’s problems have been in the midfield, as they have struggled to find the best combination to get the best out of Paul Pogba. The summer signing is becoming a huge issue as he isn’t performing well and there are some supporters that fear the club will regret re-signing the Frenchman. That is a little premature, but Mourinho does need to find the right formation and personnel to get the best out of the world’s most expensive player.
Despite his experience and pedigree, Schweinsteiger isn’t the answer to Manchester United’s problems. Mourinho was right in his assessment of the German after taking the job. He may have approached the issue in completely the wrong way, but the manager is correct in thinking that Schweinsteiger isn’t good enough to play for a top team anymore. He struggled to make an impact during his first season in the Premier League due to his age. The midfielder no longer has the dynamism that allowed him to dominate matches for Bayern Munich and the physicality of the Premier League is too much for him.
A better solution within the Manchester United squad would be Michael Carrick, as he is happy to sit in front of the back four and possesses the passing range to dictate the tempo from deep. This would allow Pogba to have a freer role and get further forward into areas where he can influence matches.
It was good to see Bastian Schweinsteiger back in first team training as it marked the end to one of the unwanted distractions at Manchester United. However, I don’t think it will mean that the German will feature again in the first team. Mourinho has already made it clear that he doesn’t think the midfielder is good enough to be a part of his United team. If he does use the World Cup winner, he could lose respect in the dressing room as the players won’t be able to trust anything that he says again.
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