Friday 15 December 2017

Schweinsteiger's return 'to prepare him for leaving'

Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger during a United training session at the Aon Training Complex. Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images
Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger during a United training session at the Aon Training Complex. Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Luke Edwards

Jose Mourinho has described the return of Bastian Schweinsteiger to Manchester United's first-team squad as the right decision on both a human and a professional level.

Mourinho's determination to send the German into exile at the start of the season was a brutal way to treat a player he did not want and although Schweinsteiger's return to training is unlikely to get him back into the United team any time soon, there has been a softening in the manager's stance.

Schweinsteiger, who has been made to train on his own at Carrington since July, has not complained publicly, merely insisting he would be ready to help the team if needed, a passive response that initially angered his manager.

MISCONDUCT

But Mourinho, who will serve a one-game touchline ban and pay fines totalling £58,000 after accepting two Football Association misconduct charges regarding his behaviour towards match officials, has backed down.

Although he would still like to sell Schweinsteiger - who has two years left on his contract - in January, the Portuguese admitted the 32-year-old would no longer be treated like a pariah.

Mourinho, who is likely to look for a buyer for another outcast, Dutch flop Memphis Depay, in the new year, said: "Looking at Bastian, and the way he is working professionally every day with the fitness coach, we think it's a human decision, a professional decision, to bring him back to the team. He will be much better prepared. In case his future decision is to leave the club, he will be prepared to go straight into competition. If he stays with us he becomes one more option.

"We have no problems in midfield like we do in defence, but if we do, he is one more option. It's a decision that can be positive for the group. A good decision for him and for us. It's a decision based on the fact that we are in a period in the season when it's really difficult to train with everybody together."

Mourinho once again put on his surly act ahead of United's Europa League clash with Fenerbahce tonight, refusing to answer any questions regarding his FA charge for abusing referee Mark Clattenburg in the game against Burnley last weekend which earned him a one-game ban which he will serve against Swansea this weekend.

Read more: Jose Mourinho explains his decision to bring Bastian Schweinsteiger in from the cold

He was fined for comments made about referee Anthony Taylor ahead of the game against Liverpool last month, in which he argued he should not have been chosen to officiate as he lived in Greater Manchester.

Yet, despite a difficult start to his time in Manchester - United have collected fewer points this season than they had at the same stage under Louis van Gaal 12 months ago - and, regardless of the fact he looked and sounded miserable while he carried out his media duties, Mourinho insists he is extremely happy at Old Trafford.

"I am in a club where I want to be and so happy to be," he added. "As a minimum I want to stay here to the end of my contract. Of course I'm excited. Of course I'm not happy with the results, that's obvious. What I'm happy with is the performances. Sometimes you win matches but you feel that period cannot last forever because the team not playing so well. Other times you don't have so good results but you feel that the way the team plays the good results have to arrive sooner or later. I have a very good feeling towards the players. The worst feeling a manager can have is not the bad result, it's not to be happy with the players. I have exactly the opposite feeling.

"After the bad result against Chelsea, the players reacted in an unbelievable way. The number of shots we had in the last match [36 against Burnley], which I think is something absolutely incredible, is an example of what the team tried to do to have a different result."

Mourinho also welcomed the return of England international Phil Jones after a series of injury problems and the former Blackburn Rovers player is likely to be on the bench against Fenerbahce. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Fenerbahce v Manchester Utd, Live, eir Sport 2/BT Sport 2, 6.00

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