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Paul Scholes - Masterstroke or Mistake?

Friday 13th January 2012
"The best central midfielder that I have seen - the most complete - is Scholes" - Xavi Hernandez

The quote above from, in my mind, the best midfielder in the world at the moment says it all. Xavi, the heartbeat of Barcelona - the best club side in the World - and World Champions Spain, was a big fan of Paul Scholes. I was a big fan of Paul Scholes.

Last Sunday, Sir Alex Ferguson sprang a big surprise on all of us, on the substitutes bench was Paul Scholes. He hadn't played since a substitutes appearance against Barcelona in the Champions League Final last season. Wayne Rooney said the players didnt know anything about it until they went into the dressing room and saw the shirt hung up with Scholes' name on it. This was the best kept secret the Premier League has seen for years.

So will this be a success or a failure?

It's a well known fact that Manchester United have been short of quality central midfielders this season, in fact, in most seasons. In fact, Paul Scholes was the first central midfielder signed by United since 2007. Fergie has been so short of midfielders that already this season Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Rafael have all been used there when not one of those players are used to playing in that position. Paul Scholes was an intelligent player who adapted his game from being a striker to a goal scoring midfielder to being a deep lying playmaker. The problem that faces Manchester United is whether this gamble could be a winner.

The positives. There are many to think about starting with the above mentioned lack of cover, there is also a lack of quality, it says something about Anderson that Scholes was brought on before him this past weekend. Another positive is its not like bringing a new player into the fold, this is someone who knows the club from coaching staff to cleaners inside out, Scholes won't take time to adjust to the new surroundings. Class is permanent and the stat of the weekend was that in 35 minutes Paul Scholes managed 72 passes with a 97.2% completion rate, that is not a fluke. There is no doubting that Scholes would be an asset to any squad in the Premier League.
The negatives. The mere fact that Wayne Rooney knew nothing about the return of the ginger king meant that he had obviously spent no time training with the first team. Sir Alex had admitted that Scholes had kept himself in shape by training with and coaching the reserves; this is no warm up to Premier League action. The stats don't lie. Scholes had a great pass completion rate, yet he also gave the ball away that led to Manchester City's second goal. The yard of pace was probably lost a long time ago but is the mental sharpness starting to go? Its one thing training with Paul Pogba and Darren Gibson yet quite another facing David Silva or Scott Parker. The step up is a big one. Secondly, what will this do to team harmony, yes Paul Scholes is a legend at Old Trafford but when legends and reality mix there is only one outcome, disappointment. What will the other players think when a semi retired player comes into the fray and is picked ahead of them, will they think they must work harder or does Sir Alex have his favourites? Thirdly, what does this say about Manchester United's financial situation? As mentioned earlier in this blog, Scholes is the first central midfielder signed since 2007. For a team that have an obvious need for an energetic midfielder this is a worrying fact. All the players that have been tried in midfield already this season show the need for an energetic, powerful presence. Paul Scholes isn't that player. The players that Manchester United should be looking to sign this season are players in their prime like De Rossi, Tiote or Yann M'Villa.

In conclusion it is hard to see Paul Scholes being the saviour to Manchester United when last season he wasn't deemed good enough to start against Barcelona. If anything, the best that it can be is a short term fix to a long term problem.
Nathan Angus

Total articles: 11

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