Jose Mourinho has emphasised it will be “very difficult” for Bastian Schweinsteiger to play for Manchester United this season – and had a dig back at Karl-Heinz Rummenigge following the Bayern Munich chairman’s criticism of how he has handled the player.
Schweinsteiger has been frozen out of the first-team picture at United this term, with boss Mourinho making it clear he is not part of his plans.
Earlier this week the 32-year-old former Germany midfielder said he would not be joining another club in Europe and added of his current employers: “I will be ready, if the team needs me.”
But when asked on Friday if there was any chance Schweinsteiger could play for United at all this term, Mourinho said: “I think it’s very difficult to happen.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it’s very difficult.
“We have a decision completely made about (Paul) Pogba, (Ander) Herrera, (Morgan) Schneiderlin, (Marouane) Fellaini and Michael Carrick (Schweinsteiger’s fellow central midfielders).
“We have five players for two positions. It’s very difficult that an opportunity will arrive.”
After reports emerged of ex-Bayern man Schweinsteiger, a World Cup winner with Germany, being made to train with United’s reserves by his new manager Mourinho, Rummenigge was quoted earlier this month as saying he could “hardly believe” such treatment, labelling it “a lack of respect for a worthy player”.
And Mourinho said on Friday: “I thought after I read some quotes from people at Bayern Munich that they would run to Manchester to bring him (Schweinsteiger) back, but no, that did not happen.
Manchester United’s best XI with Paul Pogba
David De Gea
Has been Manchester United’s best player for the last four or five seasons and, after having a move to Real Madrid collapse last summer he is now more important than ever. He saved United repeatedly under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal and will hope under Jose Mourinho that there is less to do.
A good player whose first season at Old Trafford was badly affected by injuries, Darmian should improve next year under the guidance of Mourinho. He has played for a similarly prescriptive coach for Italy in Antonio Conte and will provide exactly what Mourinho wants in the role.
One of United’s most improved players under Louis van Gaal, he established a leadership and consistency that he had lacked before. Now he is near the peak of his powers and gives Mourinho someone to build around at the back.
The first of Mourinho’s summer signings, the £30million man from Villarreal has looked good in pre-season already. Will need to adjust to the speed of the Premier League but looks well equipped to do that and form a strong pairing with Smalling.
Had his last season ruined by a broken leg against PSV Eindhoven and without him United lacked pace and width down the left. Mourinho will like his competitive attitude and Shaw will surely feature in Sam Allardyce’s England squads soon enough.
Mourinho teams always have a midfield anchor, what he calls a ‘number 6’, and there is no-one better suited to the job at United now than Schneiderlin. Did not play as much as he should have done last year but that should change now.
The big issue for Mourinho will be where to fit in the £100million man. There will be times when he plays alongside Schneiderlin in a 4-2-3-1, when United can afford to attack more, and others where he is pushed further up with two midfielders behind him. Finding the perfect platform will be Mourinho’s hardest task.
Not the highest profile summer signing at Old Trafford but a technical wizard who excelled in his three seasons at Borussia Dortmund, which is why Arsenal wanted him too. Likelier to be on the right of a 4-2-3-1, where he will provide creativity and intelligence.
Mourinho said very clearly that Rooney will not play in midfield this season for United, so he will have to partner with Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front. Rooney will likely start as a second striker or number 10, but has a job to prove that he is still sharp enough for the job.
Never looked weighed down by his fee last season and showed pace, class and natural calm in front of goal. Likely to continue on the left this season where he will provide pace on the break, as long as he does the defending Mourinho demands too.
One final challenge for the big Swede who has won the league everywhere else he has played. Still has incredible strength and skill, even if he will be one of the slower strikers at the top this year. Just needs to find a way to be a focal point for his team-mates.
“I am quite surprised that Mr Rummenigge is not here now to take him back.”
Schweinsteiger has two years left on his United contract, and in terms of the prospect of him staying on at United despite not playing, Mourinho said: “I cannot answer for him. It’s his life. It’s his career.
“He has a contract with Man United and has the right to make that decision to stay.
“That’s not a problem for us. Football is made of decisions. I did that all my career. Not just me, everyone does. Some players react in a different way and have other kind of decisions.
“Bastian is not speaking a lot. He gave this last statement, which he is completely free to do in an objective and polite way like he did. There are no problems at all.”
Mourinho was speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Hull, where the Red Devils will be looking to make it three wins out of three Premier League fixtures so far this season.
They are coming up against a newly-promoted Tigers side who have caused a major surprise by also taking maximum points from their first two games – including against champions Leicester – despite having a threadbare squad and no permanent manager.
Ex-United assistant boss Mike Phelan is the man currently in charge, and Mourinho feels he deserves to be given the job full-time.
“I hope he gets the job (despite) losing the match,” Mourinho said.
“I think it’s not intelligent to make a decision about a manager because he wins or loses a match.
“I think the reality is he’s one of the most successful assistant managers in the country, in the Premier League. Now he has this job and he has managed to motivate and organise the people.
“Are they defensive? Yes. But that’s the way they have found to get points. I think he deserves the job.”