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Morgan Schneiderlin should have a place in Everton’s future

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The Frenchman has his critics, and while his performances for Everton this term have been few, he has impressed in almost all of them

Everton FC v Manchester United - Premier League
Schneiderlin was terrific in Everton’s 4-0 win against Manchester United on Sunday
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Just as nobody goes to concerts for the support act, or listens to Marc Maron’s podcast for the first 15 minutes of preambling, you would struggle to find an Evertonian who goes to Goodison Park to watch Morgan Schneiderlin.

That is not to say Schneiderlin is a bad footballer; he’s clearly far from that. There is just not much about the central midfielder’s game that causes mouths to water and jaws to drop in the same way that his team-mates, such as Gylfi Sigurðsson, Richarlison or Bernard, can.

But, as the Frenchman proved in Everton’s 4-0 battering of Manchester United on Easter Sunday, this makes him no less important to manager Marco Silva’s plans than his more glistening colleagues.

Schneiderlin, again, will not earn many column inches from Sunday. Particularly, the stunners from Sigurðsson, Richarlison and Lucas Digne put paid to that. And in a performance of such effervescence from the Blues, it hardly seems the opportune moment to dedicate a whole article to praising an especially unspectacular footballer.

Everton FC v Manchester United - Premier League
Schneiderlin (left) celebrating with Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne on Sunday
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

But in the absence of the suspended André Gomes, the way in which he excelled alongside Idrissa Gueye should not be overlooked among the plaudits heading Everton’s way.

When he is at his best, as he was yesterday, there is a sort of languid efficiency about Schneiderlin. Without ever really needing to break a sweat, he was entirely in control of his surroundings, looking as assured on the ball as committed off it.

His absence of pace means Schneiderlin can never match Gueye’s dynamic, high-octane pressing, but he ensured that a game played at breakneck speed enjoyed welcome periods of respite. Through him, Everton could take a breath, regain composure, and prepare to resume eviscerating a spineless United side.

On this Easter weekend, it marked the latest chapter in Schneiderlin’s resurrection of his Everton career. At times a disinterested liability last term, few would have foreseen a place - albeit a sporadic one - in Silva’s team this season.

There have, of course, been extenuating circumstances, too. The midfielder was excellent in the opening day draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, and in the following game against Southampton, before he was withdrawn after 24 minutes due to injury, one of several which have limited his game time this season. The flawless form of Gomes once he regained fitness made Schneiderlin a somewhat forgotten man.

Everton FC v Manchester City - Premier League
André Gomes has impressed for Everton; probably to Schneiderlin’s detriment
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

He has also had to cope with the terribly sad passing of his father in mid-September which, of course, matters far more than anything in football. It is worth noting, though, that Schneiderlin deserves enormous admiration for starting in the following game after the news of his father’s passing became known. Silva has previously indicated that the midfielder has struggled coping with the family tragedy but in recent months has made big strides in training to work his way back into contention.

Could Everton do better and upgrade on him this summer? Well, if he is going to be used as sparingly next term, then a reported weekly wage of £120,000 is certainly an exorbitant salary for a fringe player, so possibly.

Since his return from the wilderness in the 3-0 win at Cardiff City in late February, there has been a unwavering determination about Schneiderlin’s game that was glaringly absent last season, and that Silva would be foolish to ignore when assessing his squad in the summer.

It should also not go unmentioned that, in the four games he has been on the pitch for the Toffees in 2019, they have not conceded a goal. Opponents in that time included a free-scoring Liverpool and a Chelsea side with arguably the best player in the league in Eden Hazard. It cannot simply be written off as nothing more than pure coincidence.

Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Schneiderlin helped keep Liverpool quiet in March’s goalless Merseyside Derby
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In fact, while Tom Davies clearly offers more in midfield from an attacking sense than Schneiderlin, it is almost inarguable that the latter suits games like yesterday, against more star-studded opponents, than the former. Davies, though enthusiastic, can be erratic in possession and passing at times and, at 20, inevitably lacks experience that Schneiderlin, 29, possesses in spades.

While the Frenchman might not suit every game - a midfield pairing of himself and Gueye will inevitably lack an attacking drive at times - his composure and quality was as evident yesterday as it ever has been. It is an underrated commodity, and Silva must not forget that.

As much as Schneiderlin seemingly did his utmost to engineer a departure from Goodison last season, he could hardly do more to convince Silva he wants to stay than in his quietly brilliant performance on Sunday afternoon.