Paul Scholes wide of the mark, just for once

Paul Scholes has never been one to speak to the press with any regularity. He was, throughout his Manchester United career, notoriously difficult to get hold of. Even Inside United, the club’s official magazine, would struggle to pin Scholes down for more than ten minutes, noting in its goodbye article to him that the midfielder would often schedule his interviews ten minutes before the start of training. Scholes wasn’t being stand-offish, selfish or rude; he is simply a very shy and retiring man who seems genuinely uncomfortable in front of a camera or a microphone.

Even after his greatest games for United, Scholes wouldn’t utter more than a couple of sentences to the TV reporters trying to squeeze a quote out of him. After watching Scholes rifle home the 40-yard thunderbolt that knocked Barcelona out of the 2007-08 Champions’ League, propelling United up for the final and setting himself a personal date with destiny after being suspended in 1999, I remember Scholes’ entire interview. “Yeah, wasn’t a bad hit… great game… lads did well.. looking forward to the final.” That was about it.

So it comes as some surprise to see Scholes featuring in this Sky Sports story, discussing the Carlos Tevez saga. (It also comes as a massive shock to find out he once made the same “mistake” as Tevez, albeit over a League Cup game, back in 2001.)

In this interview, Scholes’ opinion, characteristically difficult to identify, appears to be that Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is making a mistake by excluding the Argentine from his first-team squad, on the basis that it would help the team. Perhaps that should come as little surprise, given that Scholes saw Sir Alex Ferguson time and again make decisions for the team’s benefit that flew in the face of logic and popular opinion – the sales of David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roy Keane; the promotion of youngsters like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to the first team before many believed they were ready. Ferguson was rarely wrong.

On this occasion, though, Scholes’ pragmatism may well be incorrect. His line of thinking is obvious – if it benefits the team, Tevez should play; if it doesn’t, he shouldn’t. He points out that Tevez has been starved of football in recent weeks and that that will obviously have contributed to the striker’s sour mood. Tevez’ former teammate during his turbulent final months at Old Trafford, Scholes has experienced this situation first-hand.

But he is missing the point. Tevez has alienated himself from the City squad. He has inevitably offended and let down the very men with whom he should be closest – his teammates. He has infuriated his manager and the City fans; and to make matters worse, Tevez is refusing to apologise to the club and doesn’t appear to believe he was in the wrong.

Scholes may be right to suggest that City would be a better side with Tevez in their squad than without him. But, much as this will disappoint the former England international, this is not just about the football. It is about the club, its morals and its future. And Tevez is good for none of those.

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