The numbers of Manchester United players at Euro 2016 in France have been dwindling, Bastian Schweinsteiger remains one of the five players from the Old Trafford club still in the competition. Already with one goal from three games in the tournament, Schweinsteiger is proving his value to United next season and how he is still a very useful player to have. As a 31-year-old and despite some injury woes Schweinsteiger faced last season, he did very well to make it into the German squad ahead of the likes of the younger Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus who unfortunately suffered injuries.
In the last few weeks, rumours claiming that Schweinsteiger was not in Mourinho’s plans for the future of Manchester United began to arise. Albeit these rumours have very little evidence to defend such claims, but even so as a 31-year-old, there will always be critics that claim he is too old. Despite his age, he is still making impressive performances and in the current role he fulfills age may actually be beneficial as it adds to his experience which, for a midfielder, can make them better. Players like Paul Scholes improved as they got older as the experience they gained influenced their performances and helped control the game. However despite this, some may argue that he should be moved out of the club to make way for the younger players so they can get their chance.
Mourinho often aims to control the midfield in fixtures; often playing with four midfielders in an attempt to do so. Next season, Mourinho could envisage Schweinsteiger as part of this alongside Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Michael Carrick and even Wayne Rooney amongst others. But with Mourinho’s preference of taller, more physical players, it is likely that Daley Blind will move away from his role as United’s centre back where being tall and strong is more important and into a midfield role once again where such features are not as relevant – assuming he stays at United.
This means that United will have twelve central midfielders before any further summer transfers are made and the majority deserve first team football most weeks. When considering this, many might suggest that there is no reason for Mourinho to hold onto a player like Bastian Schweinsteiger when he might not get much game time and could prevent younger players from being given an opportunity. Having already released Nick Powell from the squad, Mourinho is being decisive and showing no signs of holding on to players he deems to be substandard. Mourinho is already beginning to assemble this United team into a hopeful title-winning side.
However, Schweinsteiger is still an important member of the squad. When he plays, he adds control to the match, similar to what Michael Carrick does and Carrick received a new contract from Mourinho recently to extend his time at the club; so perhaps this is a trait Mourinho wants to see from the midfielders and Schweinsteiger can certainly do this. Schweinsteiger also has the experience in midfield to control the tempo and to lead the players around him. Last season, despite injury issues, in the Premier League he made 890 successful passes from 18 games which resulted in a pass completion of 85%. He also excelled defensively making an average 1.4 tackles per game. As a midfielder, he is calm and clever – features that can be very useful to lead a team, create chances and defend well.
Due to having so many midfielders, United do not need dozens of big-name signings. Every club will need a couple of signings each year, but in midfield, United are arguably complete. The club has a lot of young players who deserve the chance and can learn from Schweinsteiger and Mourinho to become very good. United’s best ever midfielders such as Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt both came from United’s youth system and had slightly older players in the squad such as Paul Ince to learn from. Schweinsteiger is very useful for younger players to aspire towards due to his experience in world class squads at Bayern Munich and Germany. Few players have such illustrious careers.
If United are to aim for success next season, preferably a title challenging campaign. Experienced players can be very useful. Schweinsteiger is undoubtedly one of the most experienced players in the world. He has honours ranging from the World Cup to the FA Cup and this can be integral to the success next season. He knows how to win. He is also still a competent player with a lot of ability to control the ball, tackle and even shoot at a high standard. Heading is a weakness of his though as he won just 42% of headers last season – fewer than the majority of United midfielders. Maybe Mourinho will be discouraged by this, but the United manager ought to recognise the strengths Schweinsteiger has elsewhere and their importance to the squad.
As a result, Schweinsteiger is still important to United’s team and can be very useful for Mourinho. He appears to be versatile and can fit with Mourinho style of play. Even as he gets older, it should be expected that he will improve his ability as a midfielder and will have a greater influence on the younger players. It is unlikely to see the German playing every week particularly with so many other midfielders worthy of their chances, but when he does play he almost guarantees a strong performance.