Tag Paul Scholes

Tag Paul Scholes

Fergie: a great result for us

April 17, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts 4 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson praised goalscorer Paul Scholes and hailed Manchester United’s never-say-die spirit as Reds overcame Blues at Eastlands today. United’s win brought Ferguson’s side to within a point of Chelsea at the head of the Premier League with the Londoners losing 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in the late kick-off.

“We’ve three last-minute goals against them now this season but deserve it,” said Ferguson, whose team has scored at 90+6, 90+4 and 90+3 against City this season.

“We had the best chances but it did not look like anyone was going to win.

“The game became very open in the last 10 minutes.

“Derbies are derbies and the way we have won has given our supporters great excitement. To do it that way on City’s own ground is a great result for us.

“We wanted to keep a clean sheet because we know if we get back to zero against it gives us a chance. One-nil wins have played a big part in our title wins and 1-0 today shows that’s true.”

Ferguson also reserved special praise for the magnificent Scholes, who rolled back the years to dictate the game and score a match winning header with just 17 seconds remaining.

“No-one is better than him at ghosting into the box,” added Ferguson.

“He was man of the match today, he was wonderful, he’s such a skilful player.”

35-year-old Scholes signed a new contract with United this week that will keep the Bury-born midfielder at the club until June 2011.

Three amigos in one fight too many

April 5, 2010 Tags: , , Opinion 5 comments

With more than 2000 matches for Manchester United there is a safe place in the pantheon of club greats for Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.  Now in the twilight of glorious careers, the time has come for Sir Alex Ferguson to trust in new blood with defeats to Bayern Munich and Chelsea demonstrating the inconsistencies of age.

United has offered each of the triumvirate a new deal, with Giggs already signed up, Neville certain to put pen to paper and Scholes still holding an internal debate. Each deserves the new contract; not out of sentiment but because of the very real contribution they can make to United’s campaign next season.

Indeed, Giggs’ sparkling performances in the early part of the season simply continued the Welshman’s Player of the Season form during the 2008/9 campaign. The winger’s broken arm, sustained against Aston Villa in February, came at an inconvenient time for both player and club.

Meanwhile, Neville’s return to form for United at 35 years of age is a minor miracle. Never blessed with awe-inspiring talent, Neville’s determination has enabled 15 years at the very top. Yet two years of ankle and calf injuries threaten to curtail the Bury-born player’s time at the club.

Not so, and Neville has earned praise for not only for making a comeback of any kind but forcing his way into the team when many thought the task impossible.

Then there is Scholes whose ability to pass the ball at 16 years of age brought the flame-haired midfielder to England manager Glenn Hoddle’s attention before he had made his United début. Nearly two decades on and Scholes has successfully passed more balls in the Premier League this season than any other player. He isn’t even picked every week.

But while each has produced compelling performances at times this season the ravages of age has dulled the trio’s consistency. While Giggs’ stand-out performances are now rarely on the wing, Neville is increasingly vulnerable to opponent’s physicality and Scholes blows either hot or cold with little in between.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to push Giggs wide and Ji-Sung Park inside against Chelsea on Saturday produced a tepid performance from the Welshman with Paulo Ferreira – no first choice at Chelsea – consistently quicker to the ball.

Similarly Neville was unable to doing anything about Florent Malouda’s surging run for the Londoners’ opening goal at Old Trafford. While Darren Flecher chased, Neville’s static response was telling. The full-back’s determination remains undimmed but he is no longer an athlete able to compete at the highest level.

Scholes meanwhile, still the finest passer of the ball on the planet save for Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Iniesta, no longer has the legs to keep up with dynamic opponents. Restricted to an increasingly small area of the pitch, Scholes is still wonderful given time and space.

Yet against the best opposition Ferguson normally deploys the ginger midfielder in a defensive role exposing his weaknesses and limiting the player to that of a quarter-back hitting long diagonal passes.

Exposed against Chelsea on Saturday, Scholes and Neville also performed poorly in United’s defeat to Bayern Munich last week. None of the trio is likely to start against Munich on Wednesday night.

Ferguson though isn’t continuing to squeeze the last drop of blood from this stone out of sentimentality: United needs the trio. Nani’s inconsistency, Anderson’s failure to mature and Rafael’s injury troubles means that the 84 games played between the three is far more than expected at the start of the campaign.

But fair warning has been given not only of the trio’s decline but the inability of United’s younger talent to reach the required standard fast enough.

If United cannot rely on more than 15 games per man next year surely it is time for Ferguson to make a leap of faith when it comes to Nani and Rafael or move on to other players. Time waits for nobody in elite sport.

The same can also be said of Anderson when the Brazilian returns from long-term knee trouble next Christmas. United needs an attacking midfielder. If the youngster isn’t up to it by now, a dip into the transfer market beckons.

That is the crux. With United’s bank account barren the manager can spend only more debt to revitalise the squad.

Time will tell if this inquest is held once again in a year’s time.

W@nker of the Week: Rob Shepperd

March 4, 2010 Tags: , , Just for fun 2 comments

When it comes to journalists they say that there are the beards, the bastards and the babies.

The beards: the old hacks who have seen it, done it and bought the tankard to prove it. You’ll find them propping up their local bar roughly 30 seconds after press deadline.

The bastard: the careerist out for the hot scoop and he doesn’t care who gets trampled in the process.

The babies: fresh off the university production line. There’s a Pulitzer waiting to come out but babies will be writing news bites and ‘human interest’ stories for years to come.

Today, Rant brings you a fourth category and a new weekly prize. The WAste of iNKs – or to crowbar an unnecessarily offensive acronym into the mix: the W*NKER. Journalists so inept that mere contempt is not worthy. Those media folk for whom the English language itself runs for the hills. It is to those journalists that Rant dedicates this weekly prize.

This week’s winner stands tall with an ‘opinion’ piece in the News of the World so mind numbingly ridiculous that only a self-inflicted lobotomy comes close. Rant readers, we give you our Media W*NKER of the Week for the following gem. Take it away, Rob Shepherd:

Bully Scholes Failed to Take on the World

EVEN more than Glenn Hoddle, Paul Scholes is the best player England never really had.

Much was being made of Scholes’ possible involvement in the Carling Cup final.

Given he’s coming to the end of his career and has hinted at retirement, this could be the last Wembley final Scholes plays for Manchester United. But how will the 35-year-old be remembered?

Those who have played with or against him revere him. Zinedine Zidane once said: “My toughest opponent? Scholes. He is the complete midfielder. He is undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation.”

And Marcello Lippi added: “Paul Scholes would have been one of the first players I’d have bought, given the chance.”

Yet when Zidane left Juventus for Real Madrid, Lippi, then Juve boss, didn’t actually try and sign Scholes.

The reason? For all his great technical attributes Scholes, while running the occasional game, could never boss a team for club or country over a SEASON.

He could never transport his ability out of the comfort zone of being a platinum-plated cog in the United machine.

Yes, when United were on top he could play the role of world beater with punishing point-to-point passes, shots and third-man runs into the box.

Or, put another way, he was a flat-track bully who has picked up loads of medals. But how good would he have been playing for a lesser team?

And how many games has Scholes pulled out of the fire over the last decade or so in the the manner of Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs or David Beckham? Not many.

“Paul Scholes, he scores goals.” That’s what they sing about Scholes on the Stretford End. A plain and simple salute to a Salford-born hero.

In so many ways, Scholes deserves such understated adulation. He loves the game, plays it very well, shuns the spotlight and has managed to get married and bring up kids without selling his soul to the influence of avaricious agents or sponsors.

As Keane points out: “Paul Scholes is an amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.”

What a warming tribute at a time when some players seem to feel it is OK to shaft their mates.

Yet I don’t put Scholes up there with the GREAT English players of his era. Scholes does not get close to my best United XI of Schmeichel, G. Neville, Ferdinand, Bruce, Irwin, Best, Keane, Charlton, Giggs, Cantona, Law.

As for England, well, he never imposed himself on the big games.

Instead of battling it out Scholes simply gave up and quit England six years ago.

When you hear Gordon Strachan say, ‘Paul Scholes has been the best England midfield player for 30-odd years’, you realise the ‘professionals’ talk twaddle when it suits.

So, albeit a different style of player, Scholes (66 appearances, 14 goals) is this generation’s Hoddle (53,8), the world class talent who never delivered on the world stage.

Manchester United fans, of course, know what a marvelous player Scholes has been for England and the Reds over the years and no eulogy is needed here to change that. The Ginger Prince is rightly held in the pantheon of the very best players ever to don the Red shirt. So instead let’s hear from the pros that Shepherd holds in contempt, just one last time.

Edgar Davids – I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is.

Thierry Henry – Without any doubt it has to be Paul Scholes, Man United’s midfielder.

Glenn Hoddle – There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere else in the world.

Cesc Fabregas – He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League.

Zinedine Zidane – My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder.

Rio Ferdinand – I can honestly say Paul is the best player in the England squad. For me he is the complete player.

Socrates – Good enough to play for Brazil. I love to watch Scholes, to see him pass, the boy with the red hair and the red shirt.

Patrick Vieira – The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.

Ferguson – He’s one of the greats.

Nominate future WotW award winners by emailing editor@unitedrant.co.uk.

Giggs: legend Scholes can go on

December 8, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 1 comment

As word on the street spreads that Paul Scholes may bring an end to a glorious career when the season finishes in May, Ryan Giggs has backed the ginger legend to continue playing. Scholes, who scored in United’s 4-0 win at West Ham United on Saturday, is out of contract in June.

“I preferred it when I was playing more often and scoring a lot more goals. It’s different now, I only play once every two or three weeks,” said Scholes, 35, who has appeared more than 600 times for the club.

“You have to be okay with that, you haven’t got a choice. Players want to play every week but I know now that can’t always happen.”

Scholes is on a one-year deal at the club, which is normal for players over 30 at the club, and the club’s hierarchy is likely to offer the Bury-born midfielder an extra deal this winter. But the prospect of retiring from the game is something that Scholes has considered.

“You do think about it but I’m not too sure. I’ll just carrying on at the minute and see what happens come the end of the season,” he said.

Giggs, favourite for BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, thinks that Scholes can match the Welshan and continue playing well past his 35th birthday.

“It is totally up to Scholesy. It all depends on how you feel and it is the same with me,” Giggs told PremierLeague.com, the official website of the Premier League.

“It is still fairly early in the season. It is the middle of the campaign and not at the end and I feel good at the moment. I am sure Scholesy feels the same.

“With the experience he has got and the quality he has got you want that around the place for as long as possible.

“We all want to play every game and Paul is no different. He wants to play every week but with the squad we have got that is impossible.

“It is difficult at times when you go two or three weeks without a game and internationals come along and you are not involved in those as well. It is difficult to get back into the rhythm of it.

“You have to adapt to not playing every week but I have probably been doing it for the past three or four years so I have got used to it. Scholesy isn’t used to it the same. But I am more of a dynamic player than Scholesy so perhaps I need more breaks.

“He can still get forward or sit in front of the back four and control the game. I can also play a number of positions but he is just the centre of midfield so it is more difficult to play every week.

“So all this not playing regularly is new to him. But he’ll adapt to it as he has been proving.

“Saturday was what Scholesy is all about – controlling the game. He never gives the ball away. His passing range is the best in the game whether it is five yards or 45 yards, he is capable of doing both.

“Paul is showing over the last couple of weeks just what a great player he still is.”

RIP Paul Scholes

November 11, 2009 Tags: Opinion 24 comments

The loss of arguably the greatest player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, was a blow Manchester United was always going to struggle to overcome. The Portuguese winger left a void, especially in the goals column. Whilst strikers come and go, Ronaldo’s goals masked what United is really missing – a true goalscoring midfielder – Paul Scholes.

United fans are big on facts. Scholes’ record alone speaks volume for how effective the former-England international was in his heyday. In 2002/2003 the midfielder managed a staggering 20. While in the proceeding two seasons Scholes’ tally still surpassed 10 in each campaign.

This is no longer the case, which is attributable to the decline to the player’s ever-diminishing physical ability. It’s an understandable part of the Scholes’ advancing years.

While United’s squad has a number of midfielders, and Scholes remains a great player for United on occasion, an heir has never been found.

The high expectations placed on Anderson, as a free-scoring player, have not been realised. Perhaps because of, not despite, his newfound defensive role.

Meanwhile, Fletcher, for all his guile and seemingly tireless running, cannot contribute 15 goals a season. The same is true of Carrick, who has never – and most likely will never – own the goal-scoring touch. It’s a deficiency that will cost the former-Tottenham midfielder a seat on the plane to South Africa this summer.

The same is true of Park Ji-Sung, while the sight of Owen Hargreaves on the football pitch is almost as elusive as a Liverpool Premier League title. Nani, meanwhile, has become a victim of his own ambition. The player’s move to United stifled his development and he is likely to leave.

Then there are other midfielders such as Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan, who are improving with each fixture, but yet to unduly trouble the opposition net.

The same cannot be said of United’s closest rivals, each of whom possesses midfielders capable of scoring. Players who get ahead of the ball in support of the attack.

Liverpool has Steven Gerrard, while any one of Chelsea’s midfielders is capable of scoring. Arsenal has Cesc Fabregas, City boast Stephen Ireland and even Blackburn can call upon David Dunn.

United’s crunch match at Chelsea illustrated the shortcomings in the squad. Despite United’s performance, Petr Cech never looked troubled by the away side’s futile long-range attempts. Chelsea seemed happy to offer Ferguson’s side time and space.

What of the future though? A club boasting top-class facilities and a strong academy should have produced more players of Scholes’ ilk in recent years.

Darron Gibson is, perhaps, the closest that fans have seen, and the Irishman’s brief outings in the first team have not been impressive.

The best bet might be Tom Cleverley, on loan at Watford, who has impressed with six goals from midfield this season. Sir Alex Ferguson might not trust the England under-21 international just yet, but his time may come.

However, time waits for no man. Valencia, Obertan and Cleverley must soon realise the potential of their undoubted talent or, inevitably, United will nvest elsewhere.

Scholes knock, knocking on Fergie’s door

September 29, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Paul Scholes, who put in a man-of-the-match display against Stoke City at the weekend, says that he’s putting in extra shooting practice in an attempt to rediscover the free-scoring days of his youth. The former-England midfielder netted against Besiktas in Champions League matchday one but scored just three goals last season.

“I suppose I’m in the manager’s office a lot more these days, with him telling me I’m not playing,” said Scholes.

“You still want to impress, but the coaches are always asking how you feel and whether you want to take a day off here or there.

“When I was younger I used to get forward a lot more than I do now. I think the manager expects me to stay in the middle of the park nowadays and pass to the players who can go forward and score goals.

“I’d still like to get forward every now and then and chip in, but you have to play however the manager wants you to play.

“I like to stay and do a bit of shooting practice at the end of training. My goals have dried up a bit in recent years, so I’d like to get back to scoring a few.

“I just want to win more trophies and medals. We’re going to be going for all four trophies again this season.”

The flame-haired midfielder has hit the net 143 times in 611 appearances for the club, after a goalscoring début against Port Vale in the League Cup in 1994. Scholes is likely to sit out tomorrow’s Group B Champions League match against German champions VfL Wolfsburg.

But Ferguson recently insisted that Scholes would be staying on at the club for at least another season, although there has been regular speculation that Bury-born player may retire next May.

Perhaps not quite time to get out the Bob Dylan records just yet.

Scholes may stay on

September 17, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Paul Scholes, the flame-haired Manchester United legend, may stay on at the club past his planned retirement in the summer 2010 – if Sir Alex Ferguson has anything to do with it. Scholes’ United contract runs out in nine months time, after 15 seasons with the club. It has often been rumoured that the Oldham-born midfielder would like to see out his playing days with his home-town club.

“I don’t think this is Paul’s last season, not the way that he plays,” said Alex Ferguson this week.

“He isn’t the type to burst in to the penalty box anymore, is he? It’s difficult to say [when Scholes will retire] because it’s still only September, but I’m seeing the fresh Scholesy and the best time to use him is when he’s fresh.

“He won’t be playing the whole season but, if I get 25 games out of him at the level we saw on Saturday, I’ll be delighted with that.

“I’ve read that stuff about him playing for Oldham in his last year – no chance. He isn’t going to drop through the leagues, I’m sure of it.”

Scholes put in a man-of-the-match performance against Beşiktaş on Tuesday night, following a similarly dominant display at White Hart Lane at the weekend, prior to his dismissal. While the midfielder no longer provides the goal threat of old he is enjoying something of an Indian Summer this season.

Scholes, who will miss the weekend’s derby with Manchester City, has 143 goals for United in 610 appearances.

Fergie – Scholes red ‘terrible’

September 13, 2009 Tags: Shorts 5 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson has slammed the red card that could have cost Manchester United yesterday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur and will now mean a one-match ban Paul Scholes. The United midfielder saw red after a second booking in the 59th minute following a clash with Spurs’ Tom Huddlestone.

“I think he got sent off because his name is Paul Scholes,” said Ferguson in his post match interview.

“It was a terrible sending-off. The referee has got it wrong. He went in with his leg above their player. If anything, I think the Tottenham player has done him. He should have been punished.

“I’ve seen it twice and it was a bad decision. I didn’t see any sending-off in that at all.”

Scholes two yellow cards means that there is no possibility of appeal for the midfielder who has made over 600 appearances for United.

Scholes will now miss next weekend’s derby clash with Manchester City at Old Trafford. If face-stamping, crowd-inciting Emmanuel Adebayor doesn’t join him in the stands, there is no justice.

United risk losing focus as Golden Generation prepares to bow out

April 29, 2009 Tags: , Opinion 2 comments

Paul Aaron Scholes, born 16 November 1974, is precisely one month younger than me. When the ginger maestro burst onto the scene in the mid-90s I quietly reveled in this fact; here was a guy at the heart of a new golden generation that was to dominate his profession for a decade. Fast forward almost 15 years – Portsmouth at Old Trafford last week – and Scholes stepped out for his 600th game in a United shirt, surely the last milestone before the curtain falls on a glittering career. Now the proximity of our birthdates is not such a good omen; It’s not nice to be reminded that you’re over the hill.

That Scholes deserves all the plaudits heaped on him is not in question. As is often noted, his quiet professionalism is in stark contrast to the celebrity-obsessed idiocy that afflicts most modern premiership players. But the passing of Schole’s golden generation is in danger of overshadowing a deeper problem at OT. When Scholes and co exit stage left, what’s the next act?

The opening game of United’s 1995/96 season – a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa – is chiefly remembered for Alan Hanson’s smug post match assertion that “you cannae win anything with kids.” United’s team that day included Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers, players that were to lead United to unparalleled success later that decade.

This generation reached its pinnacle in the 1999 treble winning season. The team at this point featured arguably English football’s best ever midfield quartet: Giggs, Scholes, Keane, Beckham. This midfield was famously disrupted by the arrival of Veron (who managed one decent game for United in three years) and the exit of Beckham (who had become more interested in haircuts by this point). What followed was a series of rubbish signings (Djemba Djemba, Kleberson etc.) and good ones (Rooney, Ronaldo) but a new homegrown generation never materialised. This was never more evident than in the signings of Anderson and Nani, bought as long-term replacements for Scholes and Giggs, respectively.

It’s no surprise that the young, dynamic team that emerged in the mid-90s is held in such high regard at the club given the legacy of the Busby Babes, but both sides are the exception to United’s history, not the rule. Virtually the whole of the 70s and 80s was spent buying established players and it’s been pretty much the same since the treble winning team was broken up. The harsh truth is that United’s constant talk of investing in youth and nurturing young talent is mostly bollocks. For every Macheda that comes along, there’s a million Chris Eagles who are shipped off to the lower leagues and never heard of again.

As he proved with his pinpoint pass to set-up Carrick’s goal against Portsmouth in his 600th game, Scholes has his place in the current team on merit rather than sentiment. But OT will be awash with sentimentality as his golden generation retires over the next year or so, and that’s no good thing for a club that has built its success on a ruthlessness that keeps it moving forward at all costs.

This sentimentality will be evident again tonight when Giggs is expected to notch up an unprecedented 800th appearance for the club. As with Scholes, the newly-crowned player of the year deserves his swansong. But there’s already some silly talk of United retiring Gigg’s number 11 shirt; a proposal seemingly dreamt up by some United suit with no knowledge of the club’s history prior to 1991 (Norman Whiteside and George Best are just two legends to have worn the shirt before him).

So, let the golden generation bow out gracefully, but let’s now concentrate on developing a new one rather than celebrating an old one. I’m sure both Scholes and Giggs would agree.

OAPs prove better than ever

April 26, 2009 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Wednesday night Ryan Giggs will don a red shirt for the 800th time in a competitive game. The historic milestone comes shortly after the Paul Scholes – the Ginger Prince – played his 600th game for the club. In that match, against Portsmouth last Wednesday night, Scholes slotted a sumptuous ball through the Pompey defence to release Michael Carrick for the second goal of the game. The Salford-born magician, it seems, may have lost much of his old zip and eye for a goal but none of his world-class brilliance on the ball. Giggs meanwhile is having yet another Indian-summer – 17 years after his debut. Aging the pair may be but they provide further proof, it were ever needed, that class is permanent.