Perhaps if a certain German World Cup winning midfielder wasn’t pictured training with Manchester United’s first team, this piece would’ve probably been about Phil Jones returning to fitness and what he has to do to earn a first-team place.
That’s going to have to wait, as the surprise of Monday morning was that Bastian Schweinsteiger was back training with United’s first team at the Aon Training Complex.
It was all smiles as the midfielder made an unexpected return, but the obvious questions will be asked at Mourinho’s press conference on Wednesday, what’s changed for Schweinsteiger to be welcomed back to train with the rest of the team?
Is he going to be available for selection in the Premier League?
It seems odd as United have an indifferent run of results in October and all of a sudden for Mourinho to welcome back a player he was to keen on shunning at the beginning of the season.
Has the Red Devil’s boss hit the panic button as he’s so unconvinced by his midfield?
If this was at the end of November, or beginning of December, it would make perfect sense that Mourinho would want Schweinsteiger to be publicly seen training with United just in time for the January transfer window, but this is strange.
The midfield looked better against Burnley, with Ander Herrera’s grit and Paul Pogba’s creativity looking like it could be the partnership going forward, but Mourinho also has Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin that he’s barely tested in the Premier League so far this season.
So it is undoubtedly odd that the United boss has chosen now to bring the German back into the fold.
Perhaps he thought Schweinsteiger could give the squad a bit of a morale boost, but from the outside the Red Devils look a mess.
The debacle with Schweinsteiger should’ve been avoidable going into the season, with his future being clearly set out, and we all but thought his United career was over after Mourinho saying he isn’t part of his plans.
Now he’s gone back on that, it looks like Mourinho is running out of ideas.
Along with Schweinsteiger, Mourinho also has the Henrikh Mkhitaryan circus he’s been more than happy to deal with in the public eye, but when he reflects on it, has it really helped the squad having these distractions?
Squad unrest were two clear problems under the David Moyes and Louis van Gaal eras and with wins at the moment as rare as Halley’s comet, it’s the last thing Mourinho needs to focus on.
So far this season, Mourinho’s United haven’t had a consistent way of playing. They haven’t been able to string more than a few wins together. The side’s confidence is visibly becoming more difficult to build back after each loss or draw, especially after the Burnley game where they made so many chances but couldn’t win, it probably felt like another defeat for the players.
These are all bigger problems for Mourinho to focus on.
He should be playing players on merit and performance, and not just because of who fits in his system. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini deserve to be dropped for a few games after their performances in October, and Carrick, Mata and Rashford should be be leading the side into the upcoming matches, starting with Swansea on the weekend.
Schweinsteiger may have returned to the squad, but it seems Mourinho has just given himself another headache he could really do without.