Why Morgan Schneiderlin is not the solution at Manchester United
With Arsenal winning the FA Cup final the English football season has run it’s course. All of England’s footballing giants will have to sit back in envy as Juventus take on Barcelona in the Champions League final. This of course includes Manchester United. In my own opinion Louis Van Gaal achieved the bare minimum this season to avoid criticism. He achieved what he was hired for by reaching the top four while at the same time having to deal with a near cruel amount of injuries. On the other hand it has to be mentioned that the football was painful to watch at times. On top of this the short cup runs made the season a frustrating one for the Stretford End.
So often in football the solution to a problem is to throw money at it. Manchester United as a fan base and management brag the Red Devils are the biggest club in the world. To do this the club needs to be winning titles at both home and abroad. So where will those hard earned pounds be going this summer. In the last few days reports suggest that much of it will be spent on the Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who is valued between £20 and £25 million pounds. The first question is, is he worth that much? The second, is he the quality Manchester United need to compete with Arsenal, Chelsea and Europe’s biggest clubs?
In a one line answer I would say yes but it depends how you look at it. Morgan Schneiderlin is easily worth this kind of money and we all know Manchester United have the money for a player who had a near 90 per cent pass rate in the Premier League. In January speaking on Sky Sports, Gary Neville said: ‘I think he (Schneiderlin) could play at any of the top clubs in the league, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or Arsenal – he’s showed his quality this season. This was after Southampton beat Manchester United 0-1 at Old Trafford, with Dusan Tadic netting the winner. The French international has proved himself to be one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. I do believe he could slot into the Carrick role perfectly. Statistics are not everything but in a season where Daly Blind has come into criticism for not passing the ball forward enough in the absence of Michael Carrick. Manchester United fans will be delighted to hear 76 per cent of his passes were forward moving.
Going back to that Gary Neville quote I would like to emphasize three words “in the league” The Premier League is the best league in the world and has the most quality as a whole. But recent seasons would suggest at the very top England’s team are not of the same quality as the rest of Europe. So is buying players from your own league which is weaker than Spain, Germany and arguably Italy, going to help you catch up? This is where my point seems a little contradictory but bare with me here till the end. The French national team is not blessed with many top class centre midfielders, yet Morgan has only played nine times for his country at senior level. I would argue with anybody to say he is in the top 5 defensive midfielders in the premier league. Like Carrick he is the modern ball playing holding midfielder. So if Louis Van Gaal decided to move for the man who started his career at RC Strasbourg I would welcome him with restrained optimism. He is not the player that will turn United into champions at home or abroad but what he will do is give depth to a squad that is crying out for it. However, if he is the only midfielder the club sign in the summer I would fear United would be left wanting in Europe as soon as the knockout stages began.
I do believe he would fit into the category of Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini. They will be brilliant against the bottom 15 or 16 sides domestically but against the top teams they will look average. If Schneiderlin is to be a success at United, I strongly believe the club will also need to sign a centre midfielder with plenty of European experience. For example a Bastian Schweinsteiger or İlkay Gündoğan. At 33 it is unrealistic to expect Michael Carrick to play Chelsea on a Saturday and Real Madrid on the Tuesday when we get to the business end of the season. The club needs the highest of quality if it wishes to compete at home and abroad.
He picked up both the Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Year awards at Southampton’s end of season awards in 2013. Despite this, if Morgan is going to get his wish of playing in a successful Champions league team he may have to accept that we will not be first choice at first. After a couple of years playing with Michael Carrick at United and Paul Pobga for France £25 million may look like a bargain in a couple of years times. That is of course if he continues to improve at the rate he has at Southampton.
So I’d welcome Morgan to United. He has the potential to become a valuable asset to the squad. United need something else as well though. Get to work Mr Woodward.