Bastian Schweinsteiger has hit back at criticism of his performances for Manchester United this season.
The German made the move from Bayern Munich to Old Trafford this summer, leaving the club he had been at since he was a young boy. Schweinsteiger seemed to have slotted into the Man United midfield perfectly, as he started the season strongly and got better as his fitness improved.
However, as the team’s form has dipped, so has the 31-year-old’s. Schweinsteiger also received a three match suspension for improper conduct after he was adjudged to have elbowed West Ham United’s Winston Reid during the team’s 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. Many feel his age is catching up with him and that his speed is a big issue when playing in the Premier League, but the World Cup winner defended himself.
“Honestly, I am not impressed by the criticism that has been brought up [over] me via the media,” Schweinsteiger said.
“I am currently playing on a level that is comparable to that during the World Cup [in] 2014. ‘Old man’s football’ – that is an expression that was used back then, too. After the World Cup final those voices went silent.
“I will never be able to compete with Usain Bolt. But being slow or being quick on the pitch has not solely something to do with making sprints. It’s also about being quick in your head. And that’s something where I am fully up to it. And physically, I am not the slowest either.”
Speed has not been a big part of Schweinsteiger’s game since his days as a winger at Bayern Munich. Ironically, it was Louis van Gaal who converted him to a deeper lying playmaker’s role, which both Bayern and Germany benefitted from for many years.
He added: “For me, it is important what I am being told face to face. Every one or two words will be made bigger than they actually are [in the media]. It was a good year for me, but not a perfect year. My performances in Manchester were really okay.”
It is encouraging to see Schweinsteiger holding his own and hitting back at his critics. Things have not gone well for the whole team recently and it is a time where the squad need to rally together to try and get their season back on track.
The senior players in the dressing room will be required to stand up and be counted, with Schweinsteiger one of the most experienced at United. Fans will be hoping that his return can help galvanise the team and that he can do all his talking on the pitch.