Bastian Schweinsteiger had a positive, yet unfortunate Euro 2016 campaign, with performances that highlighted perfectly what we saw last season at Old Trafford. The German International helped his nation reach the semi-finals of this year’s European tournament, where they faced and lost 2-0 to host nation France. Unfortunately, those 90 minutes reflected Bastian Schweinsteiger’s first season at Manchester United.
The first 45 minutes in Marseille were as expected. Both sides carefully analyzing the game, looking for the best opportunities to get themselves in front. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s control of the game was outstanding, keeping a world class dominance around the pitch in the hopes to break French hearts. The 31-year-old looked like the man of the match for those first 45 minutes, effectively breaking down the French midfield at any possible moment. Schweinsteiger was out doing his expectations, especially since he was the replacement to injured Sami Khedira. Schweinsteiger was proving all the doubters wrong, and making his 6 million pound Manchester United purchase seem like a bargain, yet again.
But as all good things come to an end, the end of that first half made the midfielder’s overall performance nose drop severely, when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s handball led to a penalty for Antoine Griezmann to capitalise on. It’s hard to imagine what must have gone across Schweinsteiger’s mind in the moment, such an experienced player launching himself with both arms raised in an aerial battle in his own box seems like absolute nonsense, and undoubtedly fatal. Schweinsteiger’s poor mistake cost his team the game, and an opportunity to win yet another major international tournament. His performance found a way to perfectly reflect his first season at Manchester United.
A bright start filled with compliments, followed by raising doubts and questions. Can he live up to the demand of the Premier League? Is he too slow? Not only has general fan controversy been harsh, Louis van Gaal added to the controversy in February when he admitted that he was “very disappointed” with Bastian Schweinsteiger’s performances. Schweinsteiger faced a small injury in the early part of the second half of the season, which was unfortunately followed by a knee ligament issue in late March, ending his debut season at Old Trafford early. His performance in Marseille represented his season at Manchester United, as at some stages he played like a prominent figure, whilst also playing as one who had dipped in form that most are used to seeing.
Fortunately for Bastian Schweinsteiger, new boss Jose Mourinho is said to be a fan of Schweinsteiger’s past and abilities, and has said: “My instinct as a coach is that the best Germany is when Schweinsteiger gives the stability that the team needs in midfield.” Whether or not Schweinsteiger will get the opportunity to stabilize the Manchester United next season is unknown since there is a variety of different midfielders available for Jose Mourinho’s selection. Personally, I believe that even if Schweinsteiger does not get a starting position, he still has the ability to help stabilize the Manchester United midfield, even if it’s not the full 90 minutes.
Schweinsteiger might have been relieved after Jose Mourinho’s first press conference at Manchester United, where Mourinho stated that Wayne Rooney won’t be a midfielder in his United rebuild. Meaning one less player to compete with for a starting position. In addition, attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan also shouldn’t intervene with Schweinsteiger’s hopes to continue being a major part of United’s midfield. Recent links to Paul Pogba seem to be the only major thing left for Schweinsteiger to worry about, as it is expected that the box-to-box french midfielder would start for United if he ends up coming in the first place.
Next Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s arrival at Manchester United. Hopefully, Schweinsteiger can prove in pre-season and early on in the new season that he can still perform to the expectations, and produce class performances that fans and the club expect from such a successful and experienced player. So Bastian Schweinsteiger, don’t let us down and take this new opportunity to show us all what you are capable of.