After another Premier League failure against Burnley on Saturday, Jose Mourinho was in desperate need of a positive PR spin. Enter Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The German midfielder has been exiled since the day he returned from international duty at Euro 2016 this summer, with Mourinho making it known that he had no plans for the former Bayern Munich legend. His decision to ostracize Schweinsteiger from the start, forcing him to train first with the reserve team and then by himself, had many onlookers scratching their heads.
Some felt it was a lack of respect toward Schweinsteiger, but the decision to rob himself of at least the option of calling upon the midfielder was perhaps Mourinho's biggest mistake. At 32 and with a chronic injury record of late, Schweinsteiger is hardly the most mobile of players from whom United could choose in the engine room. But it appeared to be a self-defeating exercise from a manager who needed to get off to a good start in his new surroundings following the first major failure of his career at Chelsea.
With Mourinho and United having struggled in recent weeks, the Schweinsteiger situation has become another stick with which to beat the Portuguese. The midfielder's poor performances under Louis van Gaal last season, his decision to jet-set around the globe following his wife's tennis fortunes rather than step up the intensity of his recovery from injury, and his decreasing capability of being the same player he was six or years ago were all quickly forgotten as Mourinho became the questioned party and every one of his choices placed under intense scrutiny.
But Monday, Schweinsteiger was back. When United's official Twitter account displayed photographs from training at Carrington in the aftermath of the club's sixth failure to win in seven league games, Schweini's smiling face was front and center. While he cannot play a part in the visit to Fenerbahce on Thursday, having been left out of United's Europa League squad, his inclusion in their Premier League list means that he could be in line for a shock recall against Swansea City on Sunday.
Ander Herrera's sending-off in the 0-0 draw with Burnley has incurred a one-match ban, which could have seen Mourinho turn to Michael Carrick. But two games in three days might be considered too much for the former England man and, with Daley Blind occupied at the back due to injuries to Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, it is a case of calling upon Marouane Fellaini to try again in a deep-lying role that he has already proved is not his forte or biting the bullet and welcoming Schweinsteiger back into the fold.
When reserve-team boss Warren Joyce was told recently by Mourinho that he could not call upon Schweinsteiger for the Under-23s side, it appeared that the German would never again wear the famous red shirt. He didn't even get to pull it on for the club's recent annual photo call. But Sunday might yet be his chance.
Of course, it is early days yet, with Schweinsteiger still having to prove in training over the next week that he has enough about him to get on with having a positive effect. If he does so, he could well be tasked with saving face for the man who, it appeared, had given up on him.
Mourinho is in need of a savior from somewhere. Could Schweinsteiger really be his man?