Marquee signings by Premier League giants are always greeted with the same reception. Those loyal to the receiving club rejoice, praising the manager and chairman alike for exhibiting such vision in bringing such a star to their beloved team. On the flip side, rival fans stew, questioning the ability of a player only weeks before they had praised and paraded as a ‘must buy’ when linked to their own side. Perhaps an element of resentment resides in the hearts of opposition fans, and instead of questioning their own boss on why more wasn’t done to acquire the players signature, fans opt for the easy option of discarding a player’s ability, describing this season’s ‘transfer flop’ in a series of tweets.
Despite this, what would football be without such fickleness, and the endless debates and arguments ignited by voicing such opinions? The traditional banter down the pub has evolved through the rise of social media, and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow ‘punters’ to argue long into the night about all things football. The past few days have seen transfers which have sparked such debate, and coincidentally, all players’ names begin with ‘Sch’ (when pronounced in Steve McClaren’s infamous Dutch accent). Manchester United’s new midfield duo of Morgan Schneiderlin and Sebastian Schweinsteiger have come under such criticisms, and social media has been awash with concerns regarding the pair’s ability to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford.
The furore surrounding Old Trafford’s new arrivals has surprisingly almost seen the transfer of the most expensive English player of all time pass without much hype, but Raheem Sterling has himself been the subject of a whirlwind of abuse, with police forced to intervene after a number of users who shamed themselves and their respective clubs with a barrage of inexcusable abusive messages directed towards the player.
Many have gawped at the fee the Sky Blues have parted with to acquire the youngster, and many more have questioned the tactics employed by Sterling secure his move to the Etihad. When considering a transfer fee, fans always forget a vital element of negotiations; a fee is not decided by a player. Yes a player may become a victim of the fee, arguably proven by Fernando Torres’ fall from grace when his then English transfer record move to Chelsea turned sour, but in a market where such fee are more often than that becoming the norm, Sterling has nothing to fear. Sterling’s ‘sick note’ approach in an attempt to force a move may deservedly be looked upon with disdain, especially when other’s in similar situations have exhibited restraint and an air of maturity; David De Gea being the perfect example of a player who had not resorted to dirty tactics to prompt a move to Madrid. At 20 years old, inexperienced and impressionable, Sterling must be forgiven for his attitude. Manchester City are a club competing for titles and hope to push for European progression, whereas Liverpool find themselves mired in the second tier of European football, with a title bid once again looking unlikely despite several solid signings. There was no doubt that Sterling would jump at an opportunity for immediate success, rather than biding his time at Liverpool for glories that may never transpire. The third and final reservation many have expressed relate simply to Sterling’s ability, and potential to develop into a world class talent. Although the winger’s last campaign failed to impress, his breakthrough season alongside Luis Suarez was nothing short of breath-taking. The pair combined fantastically, and working alongside such a world beater allowed the young Sterling to flourish, earning the Jamaican born player a number of plaudits. With the departure of Suarez, Liverpool find themselves short of world class talent, and coupled with Steven Gerrard’s decline and subsequent departure, Liverpool failed to unleash Sterling’s raw talent in a lacklustre campaign. Moving to City to play alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure will once again see Sterling ply his trade amongst the world’s best, and it is under such conditions that Sterling will flourish. Surround a young, ambitious player with such talent, then expect nothing but development, and if Sterling can establish himself within the Citizens squad and impress manager Manuel Pelligrini enough to secure a regular starting berth, then Sterling will surely unlock the untapped potential his new side believe he undoubtedly possesses.
Heading back to the red half of Manchester, and we encounter a similar scenario, but with different criticisms. Whereas fees and attitude is the subject of Sterling’s transfer saga, United’s midfield pairing has had different questions asked of them. Sebastian Schweinsteiger possesses unimaginable footballing pedigree, and has stacked up an unbelievable 21 honours in his career at the Allianz Arena, including 8 Bundesliga titles, a Champions League crown, and even found time to captain his nation to World Cup success in Brazil. 31 next month, the Bavarian brings to Old Trafford a wealth of experience, a trait lacking in the United midfield in the absence of the influential Michael Carrick.
In recent days, pundit and former Liverpool star, Jamie Carragher, has described the midfielder as ‘past his best’ and although Schweinsteiger may be past his supposedly peak footballing years, the player still oozes class, and is still a big game player, proven by Pep Guardiola’s faith in utilising Bastian in Bayern’s important fixtures last season, as well as the acquisition of a world cup medal. Manchester United showed signs of being back to their best last season, the 3-0 home defeat of Tottenham being one such example, but such occurrences were few and far between. The aforementioned Michael Carrick played an integral part in United’s impressive showings, but the playmaker’s susceptibility to injury presented multiple headaches for Old Trafford boss, Louis Van Gaal, and United floundered without Carrick in the side. Although ‘Schweini’ has also struggled with injury in recent times, it would be expected that the two will complement each other well, and Van Gaal will use the pair delicately to preserve them over the course of the ruthless Premier League season. On the subject, Bastian has come from a league which implements a winter break, and many have questioned Schweinsteiger’s ability to complete an entire campaign without such a pause. Depth in the position allows such a problem to be averted, and with Carrick, Herrera, Blind and the soon to be discussed Morgan Schneiderlin also on the books, Van Gaal may rest easy should injury or have fatigue strike his experienced middle men. Another element of Schweinsteiger’s transfer that will contribute to the return of former glories at Old Trafford is his ability to extend his presence beyond the field of play. An experienced winner, Old Trafford stars young and old will look to the German with awe, and many of United’s stars will surely be inspired by the man, and revel in the opportunity to call such a player friend and colleague. On a more speculating note, perhaps the new man’s heritage and existing relationships with international and former club colleagues alike will see an influence upon United’s future transfer policy, and with Van Gaal eager to bring German and Bayern Munich star, Thomas Muller, to the club, perhaps a text or two will be exchanged between Schweinsteiger and his compatriot…
Finally, we come to Morgan Schneiderlin. It is a rare occasion in which a player contributes to his sides rise from the third tier to a 7th place Premier League finish, but the French international midfielder boasts a resume with such achievement. The former Strasbourg man has flourished since his former club’s promotion to the top flight in 2012, and has established himself as one of the league’s most consistent performers. Linked to a number of clubs including North London rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham, it was Old Trafford where Schneiderlin saw his future, and his arrival sees United’s midfield improve dramatically. The player possesses a range of attributes to his game, and may be considered for a number of roles in Van Gaal’s midfield. The French international is a strong tackler and distributor of the ball, and would perfectly fit the holding role, allowing his more attack minded team mates the perfect spring board from which to launch the devastating counter attacks United are so well renowned for. Despite his obvious defensive capabilities, Schneiderlin also has tendency to operate further up the pitch, and contributed four goals to his former club’s successful campaign. At only 25 years of age, the midfield enforcer is much younger than new colleagues Schweinsteiger and Carrick, and it would be expected that the Frenchman will be the constant in the side, with the others rotating the vacant role alongside Schneiderlin. Louis Van Gaal favours a 3-5-2 formation, and with the acquisition of Matteo Darmian and high hopes for £30 million teenager, Luke Shaw, the Dutchman will surely look to utilise the wing back philosophy he was forced to abandon last year due to a lack of suitable players. Such a formation would suggest a berth or two in front of the back 3, and Schneiderlin and one other will occupy such a role. Such a formation allows United to expose the width of Premier League grounds, allowing overlapping wing backs to bomb forward. The pace of the likes of fellow new recruit, Memphis Depay will also contribute to cause problems for Premier League defences, and Schneiderlin can look to release him teammate at every opportunity. The general consensus amongst fans is that Schneiderlin will prove to be a worthy addition to the Manchester United squad, and with United’s hierarchy expected to release another £150 million for Van Gaal to strengthen, the Red Devils seem to only be a couple of signings away from mounting a serious title challenge.
It is rare that Premier League fans are treated to 3 massive signings in a day, and even rarer that two of those signings are announced by a single club. United fans will surely be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing their new pair dominating the centre of the park, and bringing about a new period of success at Old Trafford. On the other side of Manchester, fans will surely be ecstatic, having signed the brightest young talent in English football who may yet go on to be a world star. The City faithful will be hoping their new signing will impress from the start, and establish a partnership with Sergio Aguero which will see the City faithful onto their feet on numerous occasions over the coming seasons. Although some may baulk at the fee put up for Sterling, chairman Mansour’s chequebook is unquestionably vast, and after a hesitant year in transfer dealings due to Financial Fair Play laws, Manchester City are sure to go all out to set themselves on the path to greatness once more. The inaugural weekend of the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League season cannot come soon enough, and perhaps the ambition shown by Manchester’s top clubs with recent signings will see the city dominate the league over the coming year.
So let’s all Schhhh for now, and let the new boys do their talking on the pitch.