Sunday 29 January 2017

Basti rolls back the years and sends message to Mourinho

Two months ago, Bastian Schweinsteiger was training with the Under 23s and set for an ignominious United exit.

Jose Mourinho has a history of turning his back on players once he's marginalised them: Iker Casillas and Juan Mata two of the most obvious examples. 

A highly decorated and hugely popular figure wherever he has been, the German World Cup winner deserved better and, maybe, just maybe, his Old Trafford career isn't finished yet.

Basti was linked to a move to the USA but it's testament to his dedication and professionalism that he has earned his way back into Jose's plans. 

He made only his third appearance of the season, and first start for over a year, in the FA Cup win over Wigan and sent a timely reminder to his manager.

The 31 year old claimed an assist and rounded off the scoring with his second ever United goal in a man of the match performance. 

His previous run-outs this season proved to be brief cameos against West Ham and Reading in the EFL and FA Cup respectively but he rolled back the years against the Latics.

Understandably given his meagre 16 minutes of action this term, he looked rusty early on but grew into the game and set up Fellaini for the opening goal.
His only previous Reds strike came in the 1-1 draw at Leicester last season but raised the roof here with his neat acrobatic finish late on. 

We've got 16 league games left, continued interest in both domestic cups and are in the Europa League knockout stages - a possible 66-match campaign.

35 year old Michael Carrick remains hugely important to United's ambitions this season but, as we've seen recently, his metronomic precision has begun to waiver and he's in need of rest.

The departures of Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay - to Everton and Lyon respectively - have left United with five out-and-out midfielders and opened the door to Basti.

He proved against Wigan that he can still play a major role for Jose this season and looks set to be rewarded with a place in our squad for the Europa League knockout stages.

The games continue to come thick and fast and it's a huge ask to expect Carrick to play every minute in all of them.
Schweinsteiger is his ideal deputy: he's very similar in style to our string-puller in chief and, like Carrick, uses his experience to get the best out of those around him. 

United are still fighting on all four fronts and it would cap Schweinsteiger's remarkable personal turnaround if he ended the season with multiple winners medals at the club. 

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