When Jose Mourinho took over at Manchester United, fans and journalists were quick to make assumptions over which players would find themselves frozen out at the club.
Many thought Juan Mata would be the first casualty. Mourinho sold the Spaniard to United when he was in charge at Stamford Bridge. Mata lacked effort according to the Portuguese then; it seemed unlikely Mourinho would change his mind on arriving at Old Trafford.
But Mata quickly became one of Mourinho’s go-to players as United teetered on the edge of a crisis. So far, given the captain’s armband twice, Mata’s tally runs to 5 goals in 16 appearances.
Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones were two more players expected to make their exits from the club. Remarkably, given injuries to Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling, the Argentine and his English colleague became the club’s current starting centre back partnership. Not only that, they’ve looked solid and impressive during the last few weeks. It’s not something that could often be said about either after combinations of poor form and injuries stalled their careers.
There’s even been a reprieve for Bastian Schweinsteiger, albeit briefly. The German caused ructions with other squad members over his attitude and found himself banished to the reserves by Mourinho. The former Bayern Munich midfielder made his first appearance for the club since March, in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over West Ham United in the EFL Cup.
And What Of Schneiderlin?
Morgan Schneiderlin cannot say the same. The Frenchman, bought from Southampton in 2015, has only made two appearances in the Premier League this season. He has even slipped below Schweinsteiger in Mourinho’s midfield pecking order, a sure sign things are bad.
The Telegraph reports that Schneiderlin is heading toward the Old Trafford exit with Everton and West Brom interested. The former must be a more attractive proposition as Toffees manager Ronald Koeman worked with the player at Southampton.
Sadly, Schneiderlin hasn’t made his mark at United this season and shows. There is a lot of competition, perhaps too much; Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera; Mourinho selects them all ahead of Schneiderlin. Leaving United may be in his best interests.