Bastian Schweinsteiger may be being treated to the odd surreal line of questioning now he’s a Chicago Fire player, but the former Germany captain will likely prefer being tasked with attempting to win the World Cup with a club side to being banished from the first team, as he was by Jose Mourinho during the first half of this season, at Manchester United.
The Champions League and World Cup winning midfielder arrived at Old Trafford to much fanfare in 2014, although injuries soon derailed Schweinsteiger’s momentum and he promptly spent a large portion of his debut season in the Premier League as a spectator.
After returning from injury to captain Germany to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, the former Bayern Munich man was said to be determined to overcome the beliefs by many fans and pundits that he was finished as a force in top flight football.
Only Jose Mourinho had other ideas.
Schweinsteiger was soon relegated to training with United’s U23 squad and was not selected in Mourinho’s 23 man Europa League squad. The 32-year-old, to his credit, remained a model professional throughout the months of ill treatment by his Portuguese boss, constantly sharing messages of support for his teammates and subsequently earning the admiration of United’s fanbase, who clamoured for Mourinho to reconsider the German’s banishment from first team activities.
The Bavarian midfielder did end up turning out for a handful of appearances this term, although none of any significance, with his role reduced to cup games where more trusted first team regulars needed a break.
Many of Schweinsteiger’s countrymen and former teammates, including Manuel Neuer and Sami Khedira, slated Mourinho’s treatment of their compatriot in the press, baffled as to why a player of such experience and quality wasn’t being properly utilised and instead humiliated on the sidelines.
However, in the aftermath of Schweinsteiger’s move to Major League Soccer, Mourinho, in a rather rare act of apologetic humility, has admitted he mistreated the German, and has offered an apology during his press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash with West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford.
“He’s in the category of players that I feel sorry for something that I did to him.
“I don’t want to speak about him as a player, I don’t want to speak as I buy or not to buy. I want to speak about him as a professional, as a human being.
“The last thing I told him before he left ‘I was not right with you once, I have to be right with you now’. So when he was asking me to let him leave I had to say ‘yes, you can leave’ because I did it once, I cannot do it twice.
“So I feel sorry for the first period with him, he knows that. I am happy that he knows because I told him. I will miss a good guy, a good professional, a good influence in training – a very good influence.
“I could not stop him to go even knowing that until the end of the season we have so many matches and we would probably need him for a few matches or a few periods.
“I had to let him go and now publicly wish him and his wife a very happy life in Chicago.”
Mourinho admitting fault and offering a sincere, honest apology. We may not be far away from the former Chelsea boss admitting he’s a fan of that time Pep Guardiola wore Converse pumps in the dugout.
(H/T The Independent)