Wednesday 13th July 2016 marked one year since Louis van Gaal and Ed Woodward confirmed the signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger from Southampton and Bayern Munich. Combined, the two midfielders arrived for a fee of £30.5 million and had mixed performances last season.
In comparison to the other midfielders, such as Marouane Fellaini who cost £27.5 million or the newly signed Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is estimated to have cost United around £30 million, both Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin looked to be a bargain and have been able to begin to justify their transfer fees. Schweinsteiger adds experience to the squad due to his numerous honours with Bayern Munich and his elusive World Cup medal he won with Germany in 2014. At 31, he has a lot of experience and can read the game very well.
Subsequently, last season he completed 85% of his passes and 62% of long distance passes. Defensively, despite being a very defensive player, he made only 42 blocks, interceptions, and clearances. However, his experience will have helped avoid the need to make as many defensive actions due to reading the game well and positioning himself correctly. Sadly, attacking is not one of Schweinsteiger’s strongest traits, so it is not surprising that he only managed to create eight chances in the Premier League from 18 appearances, but Mourinho shouldn’t be discouraged by this as Schweinsteiger would fit Mourinho’s ‘parking the bus’ strategy rather well.
Morgan Schneiderlin tops the rankings of almost all the midfield stats at the club. He obtained a passing accuracy of 89% in the Premier League last season which placed him alongside Juan Mata as the most accurate passer of the ball in the entire squad. Schneiderlin made 128 blocks, clearances, and interceptions – more than any other Manchester United midfielder and more than many of the club’s defenders managed to do. To add to his defensive accomplishments, he didn’t make any defensive errors at all in any of the 29 Premier League matches he featured in.
However, like Schweinsteiger, he is a very defensive player so subsequently only scored one goal all season and only created nine chances in the league; not as many as some of United’s other midfielders. Despite this, the Frenchman is undoubtedly one of United’s strongest players statistically. Unfortunately, it appeared as though he struggled under van Gaal’s management at times, leading to the fans never witnessing Schneiderlin at his best and with the new season arriving, many fans will be eager to see how he fits into Mourinho’s system.
Next season, Ibrahimovic, Martial and Rashford will be United’s main strikers and Rooney could join them depending on where Mourinho will play the England captain. In his entire managerial career, Mourinho has averaged over two goals per game. To continue this, United will need to generate chances – Rashford and Ibrahimovic have been clinical in front of goal with Rashford scoring 55% of his shots in the league last season and with Ibrahimovic scoring 47% of his shots – so providing chances are created, United will score goals. This means that United’s midfielders need to be able to create chances for the club’s forwards.
Sadly, together Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger only created 17 chances in the Premier League. The Portuguese manager will almost certainly be discouraged by such stats and might force them out of the team, as a result, to make way for Ander Herrera or Daley Blind who have proven to be able to create almost three times as many chances despite Blind playing the majority of last season as a centre back. Ander Herrera alone created 21 chances – four more than both the German and Frenchman were able to create from almost half the number of games. Daley Blind created 25 chances in the Premier League last season.
Both Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin are both relatively defensive players. Mourinho could convert them into more attacking players, but even if he doesn’t, fans should still expect to see them on the pitch frequently. Mourinho is often accused of ‘parking the bus’ – an entire tactic which is based on the ability to defend. The two midfielders have the defensive attributes and could be very useful to Mourinho as a result. They also have a lot of experience which, in a club with so many young players, can be very useful to have.