It’s always a shame to see the sun setting on a successful career. Even more so when it involves a player at Manchester United, and a player that you can see cares deeply for the club. Five years ago, Bastian Schweinsteiger was the one player anyone would give almost anything to have at their club. A midfield powerhouse, a true ‘champagne player’ that oozed class and ability with every movement. His signing last season – although we all knew it was short term and plagued by injury worries – was celebrated as a bargain. For what he had achieved the price was gobsmacking in spite of the uncertainty. It seems short term was just that, short.
It’s been talked about a fair bit this past week, but today the report in the Manchester Evening News all but confirms it – Schweinsteiger looks to be on his way out of Manchester United after just one season. Training with the Academy side is never a good sign. It usually means one of two things; ill discipline or on the way out, and the veteran hardly seems the sort to be rabble rousing. With reported interest from the two Milan sides (Inter and AC) and the likely addition of Paul Pogba to the four central midfielders already in place within Jose Mourinho’s squad, space for a man that made just four appearances in the last four months of Louis van Gaal’s reign is nonexistent. It would be no way to retire.
There is a genuine feeling of sadness about this situation and a massive sense of ‘what if’ too. What if he had signed back in his prime? What if his injuries weren’t as severe as they have turned out to be? The first scenario is obviously a pipe dream, one I acted out time and again on Football Manager and FIFA, Schweinsteiger in his prime was the best thing since sliced bread. The second is very relevant. At the beginning of last season his class shone through, he orchestrated the centre of the park on and off the ball. It was as though he could predict every option his teammates would take, the fact he was so influential even without the ball was mesmerizing, it’s a genuine pleasure to have seen him play in a red shirt.
His tale is one of the ravages of age and the effect playing at the top for as long as he did has on the body. A stark contrast to the likes of Luke Shaw (his tender years meaning recovery from serious injuries goes much more smoothly), any knocks are magnified and anything more severe has a greater effect on the joints and ligaments. Put quite simply, another setback with his knee and his career goes kaput. For the player, leaving now would ensure he wasn’t known only as an expensive crock. For the club, it’s cash in now or doesn’t at all. Neither wants to see ties cut so ruthlessly and if that were the case it would be a massive injustice to one of the finest midfielders of a generation. It was very short but very sweet for our