Morgan Schneiderlin has insisted that playing in England’s third division was ‘the best thing’ for his development as a footballer.
The Frenchman spent two seasons in League One before reaching the Premier League with successive promotions under Nigel Adkins.
Schneiderlin left St Mary’s for Old Trafford this summer for a fee of £24m after seven years with south coast side.
Following an assured debut for Manchester United last Saturday, Schneiderlin was keen to point out the importance of experiencing the ruggedness of League 1.
“I went to Southampton when they were in the Championship and the target was to get in the Premier League – and they went down,” he said.
“That was the best thing to happen to me. It toughened me up physically and mentally. Going into League One could have made me sad or worried about my future. But I was strong mentally and I was surrounded by good people who made me understand how I had to get better. I’m really grateful for that.
“I grew up with the club at Southampton. I learned a lot in my League One and Championship days, and it was the best thing for me to grow with the club. I am a better player than I was a few years ago and I’m ready for Manchester.”
After several years of searching, Man United appear to have found the antidote to their notoriously soft midfield underbelly.
Schneiderlin’s propensity for being an effervescent, tireless force in the middle alleviates pressure on United’s shaky back four and gives the side a better chance of dominating games.
The 25-year-old’s mastery of the ugly side of the game will be an invaluable asset for United this season. Schneiderlin’s rigour, which will prove to be vital in big encounters, is borne out of trips to places like Prenton Park and Brunton Park.
As United found out last year, the lower leagues can be a brutal, unforgiving place. Louis van Gaal‘s array of superstars were overawed by the alien environment of the Abbey Stadium, home to League Two side Cambridge United but Schneiderlin will have no issues with this sort of environment as he adjusts to life at Old Trafford.