As a general rule, as far as I can remember, Germans are notoriously ineffective in the Premier League. With the exception of the mercurial Jurgen Klinsmann, there’s just something about the way the Germans play football that doesn’t work in England’s top flight. My case in point? Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The decorated former German international spent most of his illustrious career at Bayern Munich where he came through the youth ranks as a wide midfielder before moving into a holding midfield role as his body started to reject the idea of continuous sprinting over 90 minutes. 17 years at Bayern saw Schweinsteiger pick up eight Bundesliga titles, a Champion’s League title and several other trophies before his move to Manchester United.
This is effectively where Schweinsteiger’s glittering career has come to a grinding halt.
Every Manchester United fan in the world was on the edge of their seats when it was revealed that Schweinsteiger had been spotted at Manchester airport – could it be possible that Louis Van Gaal had convinced one of the most decorated footballers in history to follow his philosophy?
As it transpired, it was indeed true that LVG had talked Basti into joining Man Utd for a paltry £6.5 million. Yes, Schweinsteiger was 30 when he signed but it was still one hell of a marquee signing for United – Marouane Fellaini even relinquished his shirt number for Schweinsteiger – things looked promising.
Injuries restricted Schweinsteiger to just 17 appearances in his first season at Old Trafford but in that time he showed just how much class he can offer a team. Without touching the ball all that often, Basti dictated the play through midfield and gave confidence to the likes of Ander Herrera who was enduring a lot of stick from the Stretford End for his blind attempts on goal from distance.
Then came a red card for elbowing Winston Reid in the throat and a very long absence from the team thanks to a knee injury. More changed for Basti than he could’ve ever imagined in the summer as Van Gaal was relieved of his managerial duties and Jose Mourinho arrived as his replacement – Mourinho had courted Schweinsteiger during his time at Chelsea but his affection for the midfielder had clearly waned over time.
Basti was thrown into the reserves at United and ordered to clear his locker out in the first team dressing room at Carrington as Mourinho made it clear that he wouldn’t be required and should consider moving on. Clearly, Schweinsteiger’s issues with injuries and lack of goals from midfield left Jose wondering why he was ever brought to United in the first place.
Then, finally, a reprieve for Basti. Ander Herrera’s deserved red card against Burnley meant the Spaniard was no longer an option in United’s midfield and Michael Carrick’s injury left just Fellaini, the unfancied Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger as Mourinho’s options in holding midfield – the forgotten man was given a lifeline.
It may only have been a cameo but easily the fan’s favourite player made his first appearance of the season as a late sub against West Ham in the EFL Cup.
What the future holds for Basti remains to be seen but we do know that Mourinho is happy for him to stay, to train with the first team, be an option when needed and that the club is very likely to exercise the year’s extension Schweinsteiger’s contract has in place.
Germans might not do well in the Premier League according to history but one last hurrah for Bastian Schweinsteiger is definitely on the cards.