Jose Mourinho has emphasised it will be “very difficult” for Bastian Schweinsteiger to play for Manchester United this season – and had a dig back at Karl-Heinz Rummenigge following the Bayern Munich chairman’s criticism of how he has handled the player.
Schweinsteiger has been frozen out of the first-team picture at United this term, with boss Mourinho making it clear he is not part of his plans.
Earlier this week the 32-year-old former Germany midfielder said he would not be joining another club in Europe and added of his current employers: “I will be ready, if the team needs me.”
But when asked on Friday if there was any chance Schweinsteiger could play for United at all this term, Mourinho said: “I think it’s very difficult to happen.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it’s very difficult.
“We have a decision completely made about (Paul) Pogba, (Ander) Herrera, (Morgan) Schneiderlin, (Marouane) Fellaini and Michael Carrick (Schweinsteiger’s fellow central midfielders).
“We have five players for two positions. It’s very difficult that an opportunity will arrive.”
After reports emerged of ex-Bayern man Schweinsteiger, a World Cup winner with Germany, being made to train with United’s reserves by his new manager Mourinho, Rummenigge was quoted earlier this month as saying he could “hardly believe” such treatment, labelling it “a lack of respect for a worthy player”.
And Mourinho said on Friday: “I thought after I read some quotes from people at Bayern Munich that they would run to Manchester to bring him (Schweinsteiger) back, but no, that did not happen.
“I am quite surprised that Mr Rummenigge is not here now to take him back.”
Schweinsteiger has two years left on his United contract, and in terms of the prospect of him staying on at United despite not playing, Mourinho said: “I cannot answer for him. It’s his life. It’s his career.
“He has a contract with Man United and has the right to make that decision to stay.
“That’s not a problem for us. Football is made of decisions. I did that all my career. Not just me, everyone does. Some players react in a different way and have other kind of decisions.
“Bastian is not speaking a lot. He gave this last statement, which he is completely free to do in an objective and polite way like he did. There are no problems at all.”
Mourinho was speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Hull, where the Red Devils will be looking to make it three wins out of three Premier League fixtures so far this season.
They are coming up against a newly-promoted Tigers side who have caused a major surprise by also taking maximum points from their first two games – including against champions Leicester – despite having a threadbare squad and no permanent manager.
Ex-United assistant boss Mike Phelan is the man currently in charge, and Mourinho feels he deserves to be given the job full-time.
“I hope he gets the job (despite) losing the match,” Mourinho said.
“I think it’s not intelligent to make a decision about a manager because he wins or loses a match.
“I think the reality is he’s one of the most successful assistant managers in the country, in the Premier League. Now he has this job and he has managed to motivate and organise the people.
“Are they defensive? Yes. But that’s the way they have found to get points. I think he deserves the job.”
Mourinho said of his own team, whose league campaign has so far seen them beat Bournemouth 3-1 away and Southampton 2-0 at home: “For me, the important thing is we had a very difficult start with a strange pre-season with players coming step by step and not much time to work, but we won the Community Shield (beating Leicester 2-1) and six points.
“More than that, there are good things in the team – things maybe more difficult for you or fans to look at, but things I know we are working on and are trying to change and improve. I am happy not just with the results but also the way we play.”
Mourinho has signed Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly this summer and suggested on Friday no more players will be arriving at the club in the remaining days of the transfer window.
“I think we are going to have a very quiet week,” said the Portuguese, who also indicated United midfielder Andreas Pereira is set to join Granada on loan.
“Not surrounded by helicopters waiting for somebody to arrive or leave. I am more than happy with the squad I have.”
United came fifth in the Premier League under Louis van Gaal last season, and Mourinho added: “I think it’s going to be a very difficult season for everyone but I think the traditional top teams had a bad experience last year that they don’t want to repeat.
“Lots of teams are going to be really strong and probably this season more points will be needed to win the competition.”