Mour­inho of­fers Sch­we­in­steiger ray of light at Man United

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger might still have a fu­ture at Manch­ester United. It seemed the for­mer Ger­many cap­tain would be on his way out of Old Traf­ford in Jan­uary when he was told to train away from the first-team squad for the first few months of the sea­son, and even writ­ten off as an as­set in United’s pub­lished ac­counts in Septem­ber.

But the 32-year-old Sch­we­in­steiger has im­pressed United man­ager Jose Mour­inho with his at­ti­tude and de­ter­mi­na­tion. Hav­ing been asked to re­join train­ing with the se­nior team last month, the mid­fielder made his first ap­pear­ance of the sea­son as a sub­sti­tute in United’s 4-1 win over West Ham in the English League Cup quar­ter­fi­nals on Wed­nes­day.

Sud­denly, Sch­we­in­steiger is on Mour­inho’s radar. Mour­inho, fa­mously dubbed the “Spe­cial One” dur­ing his time at Chelsea, is calling Sch­we­in­steiger the “Pow­er­ful One.”

“In the sum­mer, we try to make some­thing hap­pen for Bas­tian to have a dif­fer­ent fu­ture,” Mour­inho said Fri­day. “He de­cided to stay, even in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. He worked for that, he de­served that lit­tle hap­pi­ness of the last match.

“In Jan­uary, he will be the pow­er­ful one, prob­a­bly with bet­ter feel­ings than be­fore now he is work­ing with the team. I think he un­der­stands our dy­namic, our phi­los­o­phy.”

Sch­we­in­steiger, who joined United in July 2015 and still has 11/2 years left on his con­tract, has a fight on his hands to re­gain a reg­u­lar first-team place with Paul Pogba, An­der Her­rera, Michael Car­rick and Marouane Fel­laini seem­ingly ahead of him in the mid­field peck­ing or­der.

Given the strides he has made to earn Mour­inho’s con­fi­dence in the past two months, Sch­we­in­steiger can still hope. And the re­ac­tion he got at Old Traf­ford when he came on against West Ham sug­gested United fans would be happy to see more of the 2014 World Cup win­ner.

“He is an­other one who can help us,” Mour­inho said. “Dur­ing the sea­son, you have in­juries, sus­pen­sions ... Of course, it was 3-1 and he played for 10 min­utes (against West Ham), but he was ready. He is an­other one in the squad work­ing to have more chances.” There are a few more in that sit­u­a­tion. At­tack­ing mid­fielder Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan has made two starts in the past week af­ter be­ing

mostly over­looked by Mour­inho since join­ing from Borus­sia Dort­mund in the off­sea­son. He also im­pressed against West Ham, set­ting up two goals and po­ten­tially do­ing enough to keep his place for Sun­day’s match at Ever­ton in the Pre­mier League.

Then there’s An­thony Mar­tial, the 20-year-old France for­ward who was United’s top scorer in his de­but year last sea­son. He has been in and out of the team un­der Mour­inho, who has some­times pre­ferred Juan Mata, Jesse Lin­gard and Mar­cus Rash­ford in the wide po­si­tions.

Mar­tial dou­bled his tally for this sea­son with two goals against West Ham and looks to be re­spond­ing to some pointed com­ments by Mour­inho in the Bri­tish me­dia.

“He is work­ing. Work­ing harder than be­fore, to be hon­est,” Mour­inho said. “When you score two goals, maybe it helps your hap­pi­ness to be back, your con­fi­dence lev­els to be back.”

Mour­inho will be back in the dugout at Good­i­son Park af­ter serv­ing his sec­ond touch­line ban of the sea­son in the West Ham match.

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