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Just business? Why Mourinho now happy to have Basti back in Man Utd training

COMMENT: So. After a month in charge. How is Jose Mourinho feeling about his lot at Manchester United? Well, just ask Bastian Schweinsteiger...

It may've baffled some. After all, Basti wasn't allowed beyond the 'partition'. Never to be seen again - apparently. But Mourinho registering the German for his Premier League squad spoke volumes about how comfortable he is at Carrington.

The clue is in the make-up of United's Europa League roster. There's no Basti there. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is. Along with the nailed on Alex Tuanzebe. But the German's name is absent. The one competition where Mourinho aims to give his fringe their chance. But there won't be anything for Basti.

The infamous partition was erected to keep the moaners away. Concerned those not getting a game would start chirping and affecting morale, Mourinho separated them from his chosen flock. Basti was among the cast-offs. Training amongst themselves. Having the odd bounce game with the kids. They knew where they stood.

Most left. Adnan Januzaj to Sunderland. Andreas Pereira to Granada. And James Wilson to Derby. But the transfer window closed with Basti still on the books. And ironically (some inside the locker room would say typically) outside the country.

But Mourinho has named Schweinsteiger in his 25-man Premier League squad. He'll now train with the first team. The PFA will insist upon it. But that won't be a problem for the manager. After a month in charge. He now has the lay of the land.

Mourinho already has the loyalty of his players. The way United have performed in these opening weeks is proof of that. Eric Bailly can't speak a word of English, but is playing like a ten-year veteran. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is already taking on legend status. Marouane Fellaini is playing his best football since joining the club. And Antonio Valencia the best of his career. A bedding down period? Sod that. Mourinho couldn't have wished for a better start.

What's more, when it comes to the German, everyone inside the locker room knows where they stand. And thanks to some nicely managed leaks, so do we. As much as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wails about it, there's been no protest from inside the squad about Schweinsteiger's treatment. And this lot are no shrinking violets. How often did they confront Louis van Gaal over the last two years about his tactics and training methods? And how often did these confrontations manage to make it to the public arena?

Yet, in Basti's case, there's been nothing. Crickets. The protests have come from outside the club. Specifically from Germany and Bayern Munich.

Mourinho felt so comfortable about the situation, he allowed himself a barb aimed at Bayern's bombastic chairman: “I thought, when I read some quotes from people at Bayern Munich, they would run to Manchester to bring him back, but no, that didn't happen. I'm quite surprised Karl-Heinze Rummennigge is not here to take him back."

Of course, it's common knowledge now, but United's senior leadership group were left unimpressed by Schweinsteiger's antics towards the end of last season. While he couldn't get on the pitch, his teammates felt he abandoned them, following wife Ana Ivanovic around the world tennis circuit, instead of doing his rehab at Carrington. They felt slighted. And there was also the belief he was setting a poor example to the club's young players. That Mourinho took action where Van Gaal turned a blind eye was welcomed. He gets it. They welcome it. And the place hasn't been this united in years.

Now, Basti isn't the type. But the idea of one senor player dripping poison into teammates' ears. Creating friction. Upsetting morale. It's just something you can't see happening with this group. After two years of Van Gaal, it's clear they've been starved of the style of management that Mourinho provides. Even those forced to the margins in preseason, like Pereira, can't speak more highly of the new gaffer.

So Schweinsteiger is back. To train. To mix with the first team squad. And keep himself fit. But that's it. Mourinho will hope he can keep himself in shape to get a move away in January. With the MLS season kicking off in March, United will expect Schweinsteiger to be packing his bags for the 'States by then.

But before that, there'll be no games. If Mourinho had intended Schweinsteiger to have some minutes, the Europa League would've been the ideal stage. Instead, he'll be allowed to work with the first team. Mend some bridges. And give himself the best opportunity to prepare himself for the final stage of a wonderful career.


INJURY TIME

Jose Mourinho and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Is it personal? No. As the German stated just last week, it's business.

"This business has it's highs and lows," said Basti ahead of his farewell international against Finland, "it's a tough business. Not just sport."

If they had come together 18 months earlier. If Basti had been in better shape. Things could've been so much different.

Even as late as the 2014 World Cup, Mourinho was saying: "My instinct as a manager tells me that Germany is best when Schweinsteiger is in the team. He offers the stability that it needs in the midfield."

Two years earlier, Schweinsteiger said of the Special One: "I have to say that I think Mourinho is an outstanding coach. He speaks no German. But otherwise Mourinho is a coach who would definitely be successful with Bayern. And if we someday are searching for a coach, I would be happy if we thought about him."

The pair always rated eachother. Indeed, Mourinho made an attempt in his final season at Real Madrid to ferry Schweinsteiger away from Bayern. Their timing was just off.

This is nothing personal. It's business. The business of football.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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