It would be fair to say that Bastian Schweinsteiger has not enjoyed the greatest start to his season. Exiled from the Manchester United first team follwoing the arrival of Jose Mourinho, the former German international has found himself training with the under 23s. However, as we head into winter and the weather begins to change, it seems as if the same is happening with Schweinsteiger’s fortunes. The midfielder has been recalled to train with the United first team, and he will hope to force his way into Mourinho’s plans, following United’s indifferent start to the season. We look at how the veteran midfielder could give Mourinho the perfect early Christmas present.
The 32-year-old exudes experience and it was fully visible during his time under Van Gaal. Often the Dutchman would turn to Schweinsteiger in an effort to see out matches or dictate the tempo of play. Although injury limited Schweinsteiger to just 13 starts last season, having the ability to bring a midfielder of his stature on makes an impact. Last seasons FA cup semi-final against West Ham proved just how valuable the 32-year-old can be, dictating the tempo for United, and providing a timely, although controversial ‘intervention for Martial’s equaliser. The midfielder also provides an experienced head in the dressing room and this could be vital for United with a number of young players they currently posses.
Opta recorded that since his debut, Manchester United have won 56% of Premier league matches Bastian has been involved in, in comparison to only 43% without him. A statistic that shows the impact the World cup winner can still have.
A common criticism of Manchester United this season has been their lack of defensive cover in midfield. On the one hand, Michael Carrick provides that, and it is evident that his inclusion in the side gives United someone who is happier sitting in front of the back four, providing cover, rather than marauding up the pitch to provide attacking support. The only issue is that without Carrick, United’s midfield lacks a defensive leader. Cue Bastian Schweinsteiger. It would seem that Ander Herrera’s red card against Burnley could open the door for Schweinsteiger. Although he may not possess the same range of passing as Carrick, Schweinsteiger can combine his defensive awareness and creativity to brilliant effect and with his exclusion from United’s Europa league squad, with Michael Carrick looking most likely to start in midfield following his last performance against Fenerbache, it could mean that Mourinho is finally ready to give the 32-year-old a chance, with a trip to Swansea this coming Sunday. His ability to read the game, combined with his creativeness could be the key to United’s struggles, not to mention that he has the ability to come up with the odd goal from midfield too.
There is, unfortunately, a skeptical view on why Schweinsteiger has been recalled to the Manchester United first team. To put it simply, it may be to remind teams that Bastian is still available for sale. Having not been selected in a single matchday squad, Bastian will be lacking match fitness and with no opportunity to play prior to the match against Swansea, it may just be that Mourinho is showing potential suitors that Schweinsteiger is still fit and available.
It still remains to be seen if Schweinsteiger can force his way back into Mourinho’s plans or will be used as a window display come January, but for the sake of Manchester United fans we hope it is the former.