Schwein sinks Latics - and secures United stay

Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger

Jose Mourinho watched Bastian Schweinsteiger complete Manchester United’s 4-0 FA Cup victory over Wigan Athletic, before confirming the German midfielder will be staying at Old Trafford for the remainder of the season.

The United boss, however, admitted Ashley Young could leave before the January transfer window shuts on Tuesday, although he would not get drawn on speculation about Wayne Rooney’s future.

Rooney, who became United’s record goalscorer earlier this month, was the subject of fresh reports linking him with a move to China on Sunday morning.

But it was the future of Schweinsteiger, who marked his first start for more than a year with a goal against Latics, which was made the clearest.

Mourinho said of the German World Cup-winner: “Yes, he is staying. He is going to (be included on) the Europa League list because we opened spaces with (Memphis) Depay and (Morgan) Schneiderlin (leaving) and we don’t have many players, and we don’t have many options in midfield.

“Ninety minutes (against Wigan) was probably too hard for him, from minutes 65-70 it was hard for him, but now I think he is happy.

“He was a good professional when he was not playing, and after having some minutes he will be the same.

“With so many competitions and games he will be an option.”

Mourinho deflected a question about England captain Rooney in his post-match press conference by speaking about former England international Young.

He said: “The only player that I am aware of a possibility to leave, and I am waiting for January 31 to know what is going on, is Ashley Young, a player I would love to keep.

“I am not happy if he leaves, but he is the only player that I am informed has a possibility of leaving.

“That is why he didn’t play and I gave chances to other people, because I don’t know if he is going to stay.

“If I could choose, definitely yes he would stay with us.”

That answer may not quell speculation concerning Rooney, particularly with the Chinese transfer deadline not until the end of February and not Tuesday, as is the case domestically.

United laboured through the first half against Wigan but the result did not seem in doubt after Marouane Fellaini headed them ahead after 44 minutes.

Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Schweinsteiger made the result safe after the break.

With the EFL Cup final next month and the Europa League also due to resume, Mourinho was concerned about fixture congestion.

He said: “We are going to have a very difficult season compared with other clubs.

“Liverpool will play 16 matches until the end of the season, Chelsea will play 16 plus some in the FA Cup and we are in this really crazy situation.

“Southampton will have 15 days without football before the final.

“We are going to play two matches against St Etienne and the next round of the FA Cup, so the calendar in the best country of world football is nonsense.”

As for his side’s performance, he said: “The first half was not good enough but the second half was different, much more intense in the passing and movement.”