Midfield Schmidfield: Manchester United's brand new core...
On Friday July 10, Manchester United were in desperate need of midfield recruits. On Monday July 13, they are embarrassed with options in the middle of the park.
Ed Woodward worked with all the surgical efficiency of a cunning playmaker to secure the signings of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, telling his critics to "Schhh" in the process.
Speculation had been focused on which of the two midfielders United would secure, particularly when news of the German captain's move first broke. Giddy optimism amongst United fans was somewhat tempered by what appeared to be a missed opportunity with Schneiderlin.
But Whirlwind Woody managed to seal both deals to gift Louis van Gaal a brand new core to his first XI. Together they provide the United manager with a number of key facets to his suddenly fearsome squad.
Height and power
On more than one occasion last season, Van Gaal bemoaned the lack of height in his side. Before United's 4th round FA Cup tie with Cambridge United, he was quick to highlight the disparity in size between the two teams.
The twin acquisitions of Schwei and Schnei suddenly give United a very different look. Both stand at around 6ft tall with strong, broad frames. Along with Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick, that's a very tall midfield.
Composure and leadership
Manchester United have lacked a true leader in the centre of midfield for a decade. On November 2005, Roy Keane was shunted out of the club, and took his iron will and metronomic command with him.
In Schweinsteiger, United have signed a genuine talisman who will drag his troops to victory in their hour of need. Both he and his French international colleague are cool heads and consummate distributors.
Arrogance and bravery
Bravery in this context doesn't mean the willingness to dive into challenges - it is quality of standing up to be counted. Neither of Van Gaal's new midfielders shirk such responsibility - in fact they relish it.
Schneiderlin regularly gave man-of-the-match performances in the biggest games - United, Chelsea and Arsenal can all attest to that.
Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger won his nation the World Cup final, leaving the pitch bloodied and bruised, but a winner of the most coveted trophy in sport.
Mobility and drive
Schweinsteiger isn't perhaps the marauding presence he once was; age and injury have made him adapt from soldier to general. But he still pushes forward with powerful runs from midfield, spotting the gaps that others miss.
Schneiderlin on the other hand is full of running. As well as having the mobility and stamina to screen his defence, the Frenchman possesses the strength to beat a man when surging forward.
Both Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger are worth more to United than merely their combined talents. They will help improve the players around them enormously.
The defence will relish the extra protection; Michael Carrick will finally have some welcome competition that will only help push him to prove his worth, while Wayne Rooney can finally focus on being a centre-forward.
It's been a long time coming, but United now have a midfield of genuine class and depth. Instead of constantly stressing about how to tackle and douse the opposition, the questions becomes how will rivals compete with this.