Is it time for Paul Scholes to call it a day?

by Charlie Coffey

Friday, March 11th, 2011

As a Manchester United fan, or even as a football fan, I feel like a modern day Judas, my hands trembling as I write these blasphemous words: Paul Scholes is no longer good enough for Manchester United, and the club have made the wrong decision by offering him a contract extension.

His technique is alive and well but his 36-year-old legs are not up to the pace. He was immense; the best midfielder in the world according to Zinedine Zidane, but while he and Ryan Giggs are regularly mentioned in the same sentence when it comes to the longevity of the remains of Fergie’s Fledglings, it is only by virtue of romance, and not reality. The last two games against Liverpool and Chelsea are evidence of this.

Scholes is good enough to play against smaller teams at home, but he is a luxury player that Manchester United cannot afford. He does not have the legs to be effective in three consecutive fixtures which is what is needed in times such as these, with the squad suffering from a multitude of injuries. These days he is only effective when played in a midfield three, with players such as Darren Fletcher and Anderson to do his running for him. At the moment this is not possible and his frailties have been exposed in successive defeats to Chelsea and Liverpool.

Scholes, famously, could never tackle, but he had the legs and brain to make clever interceptions. Now he is only effective when the ball is played into his feet, which is fine when United are running games but against tougher opposition (or, this season at least, away to seemingly any opposition) when United are on the backfoot, Scholes value is seriously diminished. Defeat at Anfield and Stamford Bridge is nothing to be too ashamed of (although to lose at both is a massive blow for a title contender) but Scholes and Michael Carrick have made United an extremely lightweight pairing at centre-midfield. Carrick has almost no aggression, and when Scholes shows his it is invariably in the form of a late tackle, a yellow card and his effectiveness is limited further still by his necessity to show caution for the remainder of the game.

Carrick has also been offered a new deal to the surprise of many United fans, but he has relative youth on his side. What kind of signal does it send to the squad if United continue to offer lucrative new deals to players who have been performing beneath themselves? United need a revolution in the centre of midfield and that should start with releasing Paul Scholes.

A one-year contract extension has been offered, but Scholes has refused to sign it while he remains a bit-part player in Fergie’s squad. He has had his chance to show that he is still capable of playing a part on a regular basis in the past few games and has failed. This is not for lack of effort, simply the effects of time and a long career on his body.

Scholes has often stated that he would like to play for Burnley, the club he supported as a child and to which he takes his own kid to watch. This shows his undying love of the game. He has enough money and is not one to spend it, preferring to drive the Audi provided by United’s sponsors rather than a flash motor like many of his team mates. This devotion to football is admirable. He has one career and he wants to get the most out of it. Various other great players such as George Best, Ian Wright and Teddy Sheringham went down and down in levels until they finally called it a day.

From a fan’s point of view I would like to see Paul Scholes retire at the end of this season, while he is still vastly respected around the world and a United regular. I would wish him well at Burnley if that is his choice, but United need to realise that Scholes is past it and replace him in the summer if they have genuine title aspirations next season.

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  • mark flynn

    It breaks me heart but if united win the league paul should go out on top.What away to go….

  • john

    we do still need him if we put scholes in a deep holding position were he can pick out long balls and if we have fletcher and carrick doing all the chasing then i think its ok. obviuosly we need to replace him but he has the experience that i think manchester united still need to win leagues

  • http://DexysDen Charles Perrin

    I think you answer your own blog in many respects- Scholes will go in United folklore as one of the best midfielders to represent the club, albeit he was renowned for mistiming his tackles.

    It would be fantastic for the little maestro to go out on a high if United were to go and win the league this season. United need to make some reinforcements and splash out a bit this summer., Of course Valencia is still to run after a horrific leg break, but think Gibson is on fringes and Carrick looks at times like he doesn’t have the stomach for the fight. He will know in his heart of hearts when the right time is to go, but if he stays on for another season, he will see his levels continue to slide- United should thank him for his service and the club should move on to ensure success in the future.

  • John Bishop

    Do you remember at the start of the season, when fresh from pre-season and without injury, Scholes was running the show. He was simply amazing, spraying passing all over the pitch and you could on one hand how many times he lost the ball, or mis placed a pass. Then he got injured and since he has been back, he’s not been in the same form. We need to bear in mind that when players get older it takes them longer to recover from injury. It’s the same for bigger players (e.g defenders like Rio & Vidic), it takes them longer to recover and regain form than nimble, smaller players (Nani, evra). This could be the reason for Rooney taking so long to rediscover his form (apart from his personal matters).
    I still think Scholes has a big role to play, but we can’t expect him to be playing back to back games, 4 games in 2 weeks and so on. His body can’t take it. Same goes for Giggs. If we had better squad players (Bebe an Obertan still need time) then we wouldn’t need to rely on them so much.

  • John Bishop

    Did u see Scholesy yesterday???
    He hit 3 amazing passes and if our strikers had finished them off (they only had te keeper to beat) that wud have been 3 assists in the short time he was on.

    One of the brilliant passes:

  • charlie coffey

    Fair enough Bisho. I’m nursing a semi.

    Alright Darren (moderator)? enjoy the game yesterday? Two of your lot slipped through the net and were sitting next to me in the north stand. Gave them shit for the full 90 and they left early with tail firmly between legs. Welcome to Manchester!

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