Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Despite the best intentions the relationship just doesn’t work, the pieces just don’t fit, there’s a square peg in a round hole. It’s an apt description for Morgan Schneiderlin’s time at Manchester United, which is coming to a low-key end as he metaphorically slips out the back door – a transfer away from Old Trafford is likely this winter.
Another Premier League club awaits the Frenchman in January, possibly Everton or West Bromwich Albion, with the latter having made a bid in the past week. It’ll be good for him and possibly United too. After all, the Frenchman has cut a frustrated figure, sat in the stands for most of the season, playing just 11 minutes in the Premier League, 135 in the Europa League, and 90 in the EFL Cup. Schneidetrlin’s total of 298 minutes in all competitions is less than some of the United squad has played in the last three matches alone.
The midfielder arrived to much fanfare alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger for a fee of around £24 million, with clauses that could increase the fee to £27 million with add-ons. Coined the “Schmidfield”, the pair was meant to be the bedrock of the modern United engineroom. Schweinsteiger’s issues are very publicly documented, but Schneiderlin has faded into the background so much that even the exiled German has played for the club more recently than the former Southampton player.
[blockquote who=”” cite=””]Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Despite the best intentions the relationship just doesn’t work, the pieces just don’t fit, there’s a square peg in a round hole. It’s an apt description for Morgan Schneiderlin’s time at Manchester United.[/blockquote]
When José Mourinho arrived at the club some predicted that Schneiderlin would become a vital cog in a tough midfield that the Portuguese typically employs. Many hoped that he would partner Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera in a midfield trident that held the potential to dominate the English landscape. It was a vision that has never come to fruition.
The misconception, which persists to this day, is that Schneiderlin is a defensive midfielder – that his build and tackling prowess would enable the player to become the Roy Keane replacement the club has needed for so long. Those who watched the midfielder at Southampton knew a different story. That Schneiderlin’s talents were far from suited to the defensive role in which he has been typecast at United.
Schneiderlin’s ability to run from box-to-box shone at St. Mary’s, while asking him to sit back and defend exposes too many weaknesses. He’s not the type to a break up play and pass the ball on and rarely dictates the tempo of a game. Yet, Louis van Gaal asked the player to take this role. It was the beginning of the end for Schneiderlin at the club; his performances never matched the expectations set by some.
Alongside Memphis Depay, who may very well join him on Merseyside if reports are to be believed, Schneiderlin represents a disastrous summer of transfers under Van Gaal. The Frenchman will forever be associated with the Dutchman’s poor record and some of the most boring football ever seen on the red side of Manchester.
It is, of course, unfair to lump Schneiderlin in with everything the Van Gaal era brought. The midfielder was part of a squad attempting to fulfil the manager’s instructions. He was supposed to be the future of both United and the French midfield. Now, he must work his way back into international reckoning. The first step is to accept that his time in Manchester is at a close.
From disappointment comes opportunity. Schneiderlin might be the perfect candidate to replenish Everton’s struggling midfield. The Toffees could certainly use a player with his all-round talents. Schneiderlin remains a skilled passer, strong tackler and, most importantly in modern football, he can press well, intercept the ball and push forward. Moving to Everton would also reunite the player with Ronald Koeman, the manager with whom the Frenchman had such success at Southampton. During Schneiderlin’s days at St. Mary’s he was routinely amongst the leading interceptors and tacklers per game amongst all midfielders in the country, as well as getting forward, chipping in goals and providing double the number of key passes compared to his time at United.
That last stat is key. In reality Schneiderlin is competing with Paul Pogba for a place in Mourinho’s team, and the younger man is a far superior option, one that is now excelling in shuttling the ball from defence through midfield and into the attack with devastating effect. Few, if any midfielders, can reach Pogba’s level in world football. Meanwhile, Michael Carrick controls tempo and moves the ball around the pitch in a way Schneiderlin could never do, while Ander Herrera is offering the engird to match the Frenchman’s. With those men at the club, Schneiderlin simply doesn’t fit – a case of wrong place, wrong time, wrong player.
So while his time at United may be over, Schneiderlin’s football career certainly is not. It’s okay that it didn’t work out, with a move best for both player and club. It’ll happen with little bitterness. Bon voyage Morgan, and good luck.