For the early part of this season, the City of Manchester seemed to be the home of unwanted experienced midfield players as both United and City had in their wage bill two former greats of the game that their respective managers had declared persona non grata. Both Yaya Toure and Bastian Schweinsteiger suffered the ignominy of being banished to train with the reserves, with the exit doors seemingly wide open on both ends.
The only constant in life, they say, is change
. Months down the line and Guardiola can't seem to field a roaster
without Yaya Toure. The Ivorien
has been restored to the team after towing his boss's line and to good effect too.
The same may be set to happen on the red side of Manchester as German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first Man United start under Mourinho and put in a match-winning performance comprising a goal and an assist to help United smashed Wigan Athletic 4-nil in the 5th round of the FA Cup.MATCH REPORT: Man United beat Wigan in style at Old Trafford
Schweinsteiger set his team on the path to victory with a well-measured cross for Fellaini's opener before rounding off things with an acrobatic goal of his own late on. The former Bayern man enjoyed himself in midfield as he saw out the full game.
Experienced midfielders like Schweinsteiger are not easy to find and if the German can stay fit he will give Mourinho something extra. After all, it was never his class that was in doubt but his ability to reproduce that class. He has been a standout player for both Bayern Munich and the German national team, winning the World Cup as well as every available trophy with his former club.
Schweini was brought in by Luis Van Gaal for his wealth of experience and calming influence in the middle but after the 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal last season, in a game where Van Gaal paired Schweinsteiger with Michael Carrick, it became almost conclusive that the player no longer had the legs to compete at such a high tempo of the game. He had to go.
With Van Gaal sacked at the end of the season, Schweinsteiger became Mourinho's problem to deal with and the new boss quickly threw him in the bin.
Schweinsteiger simply refused to be flushed out and like Yaya Toure at cross-town rivals City has managed to worm his way back into reckoning
. It is rather the other less-fancied midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin that has departed for Everton.
Mourinho can now be more than ever convinced that even though the German arrived at United a player past his prime after injury-ravaged seasons, there are still obligations he can discharge at Old Trafford if given opportunities.
He offers the same sort of cool, composed and visionary service as Michael Carrick while being 3 years younger. He can serve as a direct alternative to the former even though playing them together in intense games may not be an option.
Mourinho also has to consider the number of games still left to play, with the business end of the season coming thick and fast.
Europa League action is set to resume next month and United are still in the running for both domestic cups as well as fighting tooth and nail for a Champions League spot. You can be sure that the skills of Schweini can come in handy. Mourinho indeed indicated before the Wigan game that Shweinsteiger would be one of his tigers in the post-group stages of the Europa League.
Mourinho has shown with this game that he is ready to take a step back and accommodate those whom he had previously cast off and Schweinsteiger has repaid his manager's faith with a classy performance. Mourinho showed his appreciation with a smile at Schweinsteiger's goal. It is now for both parties to synchronise their energies for the greater good of the team.