You’d think that most Manchester United fans would react to the departure of an old over-the-hill midfielder who had made fewer appearances for the club than Mark Bosnich, Luke Chadwick and the immortal Eric Djemba-Djemba (so bad they named him twice) and had yet to play in the Premier League this season with a collective shrug. You’d be wrong.
And to be fair, I’m one of the many United fans sad to see Bastian Schweinsteiger leave for Chicago (maybe we’ll be neighbors – yeah right). Even though we all knew he was past his prime when he signed for the club, this was still Bastian Schweinsteiger. World Cup winning captain. Champions League winner. One of the best of his generation and a true world-class talent. The fact that he was willing to leave Bayern Munich, his club home since he was a child, for a rebuilding United squad confirmed that United could still recruit big-ticket players.
He was acquired to be Louis van Gaal’s metronome and on-field leader, but the rough-and-tumble Premiership exposed his lack of mobility and pace (he was never quite the same after that Arsenal defeat). Jose Mourinho had little-to-no use for him, treating him abominably and disrespectfully – all in an effort to make Schweinsteiger quit.
But he never did quit. Schweinsteiger persevered and continued training like the professional he is. And he stayed positive throughout his ordeal. His love for the club never seemed to waver and he was, often, United’s biggest cheerleader on social media. United fans will always support a player who gives his all to the cause, and Schweinsteiger, despite reports that his teammates were upset at his tendency to spend time in Germany while injured rather than turn up at the training grounds, seemed like a consummate, classy professional.
Perhaps that’s why there was so much sadness over the departure of a man with only 35 United appearances to his name. After all, there was so much optimism during that glorious summer day of 2015 when Ed Woodward, seemingly, had fixed United’s central midfield problem by signing both Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin. Instead, Schweinsteiger follows his would-be “Schmidfield” partner out the door as Jose Mourinho continues to treat the Louis van Gaal era like the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.
And Schweinsteiger wasn’t a total failure at United. He won two more trophies than either Di Maria or Falcao.