Michael Owen has made a bold claim by stating that Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is not good enough to be a regular starter under Jose Mourinho. Owen is quoted by the Metro on BT Sport saying, he expects the former Saints man to start after the international break against Liverpool away from home, but says that he is not enough to be a regular in the starting eleven.
When speaking about United’s potential line-up at Liverpool, Owen said, ‘I think it should be Michael Carrick or Morgan Schneiderlin, although I don’t think he’s quite good enough to be a Manchester United regular’.
The midfielder may have only played five minutes of League football this season, but is Michael Owen right in saying that he is not enough to be a regular starter at United?
Back in July 2015, Manchester United paid £24m for Schneiderlin, hoping that he would be the next major replacement for the likes of Paul Scholes and the more recent Darren Fletcher in the middle of the park.
He made 29 appearances under Louis van Gaal last season, but now faces increased competition for a starting spot in the midfield. Ander Herrera has dropped into a deeper role, Paul Pogba is the big-money signing of the summer, and Marouane Fellaini has previously been preferred in the middle, as has Michael Carrick.
Looking at the stats from last season (excluding the stats of Paul Pogba because he was not in the Premier League so this season’s stats have been used), Schneiderlin had the highest pass completion rate out of his competition with 89%, but has made the least successful passes per game apart from Fellaini, making an average of 52 successful passes per ninety minutes, Carrick making the most with just over 60 per game.
But what do we look for in a holding midfielder? We look for one of two roles. The more defensive of the two, the strong tackler doing the dirty work, and the more attacking role, who looks to go forward and make more important passes.
Ander Herrera played in a more attacking role last season, but his stats still showed that he could play in the defensive role he plays this season. He made an average of 2.62 tackles per game last season compared to Schneiderlin, who made just over two per game. The Spaniard also won a higher percentage of his duels winning 45%, 11% more than Schneiderlin. The stats show that Herrera should start ahead of the 26-year-old, and this is without even considering the competition of Michael Carrick.
With Herrera looking on top of Scheiderlin in the pecking order for the more defensive role, we turn to the more attacking role, currently occupied by Paul Pogba, who looks undroppable from a Mourinho point of view after spending £90m on the Frenchman, already making getting in front of him an uphill struggle for the former Saints midfielder.
However, Pogba’s stats from this season show that he can do his defensive work and win tackles as well as go forward. In addition to making 1.83 key passes per game this season, the Frenchman has also won 52% of his total duels in midfield.
Looking at the stats, at the moment, there is seemingly no space for Schneiderlin in the starting eleven. However, what form did he show at Southampton that attracted the interest of Manchester United?
At Southampton in the season 2014-15, Schneiderlin made an average of 3.25 tackles per game, and he won 44% of his duels, much better than the figures he has mustered up at Manchester United. The midfielder also made more key passes at Southampton.
In response to Michael Owen’s claims, I don’t think that Schneiderlin is not enough to start for Manchester United full stop. In his current form, he is nowhere near a regular starting spot, but if he can convince Jose Mourinho that he can show the form he did at Southampton out on the pitch then he may be considered for regular appearances in the starting eleven.