Jose Mourinho regrets the way he treated Bastian Schweinsteiger, admitting he was wrong to banish the midfielder from Manchester United's first team.
Last week it was confirmed that the 32-year-old’s ill-fated Old Trafford career was coming to an end, with the former Germany international penning a one-year deal at the Chicago Fire.
Schweinsteiger failed to live up to the hype after arriving at United in 2015, but the World Cup winner had precious little chance to turn things around once frozen out by Mourinho the following summer.
The former Bayern Munich star dropped so far down the pecking order that the club even wrote him off as an asset in their accounts, only for him to make a surprise return from the cold.
Schweinsteiger made four appearances after being brought back into the first team in late October, only to be granted a move to Major League Soccer — a deal Mourinho could not stand in the way of having accepted he mistreated the midfielder.
“He’s in the category of players that I feel sorry for something that I did to him,” the United manager said.
“I don’t want to speak about him as a player, I don’t want to speak as I buy or not to buy. I want to speak about him as a professional, as a human being.
“The last thing I told him before he left (was) ‘I was not right with you once, I have to be right with you now’.
“So when he was asking me to let him leave I had to say ‘yes, you can leave’ because I did it once, I cannot do it twice.
“So I feel sorry for the first period with him, he knows that. I am happy that he knows because I told him.
“I will miss a good guy, a good professional, a good influence in training — a very good influence.
“I could not stop him to go even knowing that until the end of the season we have so many matches and we would probably need him for a few matches or a few periods.
“I had to let him go and now publicly wish him and his wife a very happy life in Chicago.”
Schweinsteiger could make his MLS debut against Montreal Impact on Saturday, when United host West Brom at Old Trafford — the first of nine matches Mourinho has to deal with in April.
The midfielder would have no doubt been involved over that period and the United boss regrets not having brought him into the first-team fold earlier.
The bloated squad inherited from Louis van Gaal played a key role in his decision to overlook Schweinsteiger, but so too did his regular trips back to Germany for treatment last season.
“We had a huge squad in the beginning but after knowing him as a professional, as a person, the way he was behaving and respecting my decisions as a manager,” Mourinho said. “Yes, I regret and no problem for me to admit it.”
He added: “In this moment, I always say the second season is the season where a manager knows everything about the players.
“What I knew about Bastian was not as a player because everybody knows.
“But what I knew about him was a season full of injuries, a season where he almost didn’t play, a season where he was not even having treatment in the club. It was outside the club and I thought that was not right, the mentality was not right.
“It was the kind of player that I wouldn’t like to have in the squad.
“In the second season, I know everything what is going on. In the second season I know the players I want, the players I don’t want, why I want, why I don’t want. Why a player is playing, why a player is not playing.
“Now I am inside for 10 months and 10 months is a long time. The second season is where the managerial point of view is easier than the first.”