A lot has been said about certain footballing greats who leave their leagues and come to play in the English Premier League and a fair handful of them continue to maintain the momentum and go on to earn accolades. What happens to the rest of the players who don’t? The players who were successful at their old leagues, yet somehow find it difficult to regain that tempo and that level of skill?
Argumentatively, it can be said that the top flight of English football is a notch tougher than any other league in the world and that is true in more ways than one. For example, Radamel Falcao was a killer player while he was at Atletico Madrid but everybody knows how poor his stint at Manchester United was and this has really affected his career, as he is now just a part of the Chelsea team who might or might not get to play. Even Victor Valdes saw a similar fate. It’s difficult to exactly pinpoint whom to blame in this situation because it’s all very dicey and tentative.
Now, it seems like another player’s name might be added to this list and this time, it is the Fussball Gott – Bastian Schweinsteiger – who is the darling of German football.
Regarded as one of the best mid-fielders of our times while he was at Bayern Munich, his transfer to Manchester United was seen as a growing experience for the former German captain. However, that has been reduced to a situation wherein Basti did not fare as well as he should have, in the last season. There might be a lot of reasons behind that, but that brings up a bigger question – should Schweinsteiger leave Manchester United?
With Carlo Ancelloti clearly stating that Bayern Munich will no longer entertain a deal with their former legend, it really depends on the Red Devils now.
When he first joined Manchester United, Schweinsteiger was part of a World Cup winning team and was a key member of not just the German team, but also for Bayern Munich. At that point, he seemed like exactly the kind of player that was needed at Old Trafford – a talented and experienced midfielder who had the skills to be calm and devise the play based on the requirements at hand.
Unfortunately for Schweinsteiger, nothing of that sort happened. A couple of upward surges were all he had while he faltered in most of the other games. He also suffered from injury once, and that led to him missing more games.
Coming back to the question of whether he should be retained or not, lets analyze the current situation of Manchester United. Since the retirement of their legendary manager – Sir Alex Ferguson – they have been stuck in a rut and with the short stint of David Moyes, it did more harm than good. Things looked up when Louis van Gaal was in charge initially, but sadly, even that led to no concrete progress. Now, they have Jose Mourinho on their side, and if at all Schweinsteiger’s slump was due to issues with Van Gaal, then he should be playing better now with Mourinho. This could very well be the opportunity Schweinsteiger was looking for to get back to his old form and stature.
It is fairly well known that Mourinho prefers to typically play a 4-2-3-1, supported by two holding mid-fielders, meaning that one player develops a “combative” style of play and focuses on winning back possession, while the other is more relaxed and aims at controlling the tempo of the game, with occasional attacks.
Thus, in theory, Schweinsteiger can be very useful, if deployed in that regard. Then again, nobody knows if this is the formation Mourinho will adopt, as every manager likes to play around with the formation to suit the team and the league.
As far as the United midfield is concerned, there are already too many options. Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick are all competition for the German, and with the arrival of Paul Pogba, it just creates more confusion as to who will fit the bill.
Obviously, Schweinsteiger would not be satisfied being a bench-warmer. Also, Mourinho himself should be aware of exactly how capable Basti is, having experienced how he had immense control on the play during the time when Mourinho was at Real Madrid and had to play a game against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Still, whatever doubts Mourinho might have, Schweinsteiger did play pretty well for the Germans at the Euro 2016, and even reached the semi-finals. They might have gone into the finals as well, if not for the unfortunate penalty he gave away for Antoine Griezmann. Also, Joachim Loew is one of the brilliant managers of our times, and it must mean something when he has so much faith in Basti.
Realistically speaking, Schweinsteiger might have retired from international football but he is only 31 and still has a few good years left, at least. Undoubtedly, he is amazing, his style of play can also work at the EPL. He would only have to focus on maintaining his fitness, and then maybe he might be the man Mourinho can depend on in the midfield area.
Mourinho should definitely give Schweinsteiger one season and see how he fares, before making any rigid decision.