Scoring the winner against Manchester City at Eastlands is something any Manchester United player would treasure in his list of personal achievements, however the circumstances in which Paul Scholes did it were the most important- in the very dying seconds of the match to keep this fascinating title race alive. Prior to the match, Scholes also had another reason to come in to the game in buoyant mood as he had signed a one-year contract extension the day before the derby. While there can be no doubting the high-class service Scholes has given to United, is it going to beneficial for the club and player that he stays for another season? Would it be wiser to walk off in to the sunset should United retain the title?
Scholes is usually a man of few words and has stated that he is not a fan of giving interviews, thus making rare media appearances. Upon signing his contract it was reflected in his personality with the brief statement he came out with. He said: “I am pleased to have signed for another year; I am feeling good and enjoying my football. I would like to thank the boss, the coaching staff and also the fans for their continued support.” In fairness to him there’s not much more to say other than that but he must be a player who is proud of his reputation- and to keep it intact. Having looked at Scholes’s performances this season, I happen to think that he has been hit and miss mainly due to the fact that he has probably played more games than most 35-year-olds would because Anderson and Owen Hargreaves have been injured. However, if you are looking for experience and a master to learn of than look no further than Paul Scholes. This is good for off-the-pitch difficulties or pressures the youngsters may be going through but in the end it will be judged on what Scholes can offer his team on the playing field in the 2010/11 season.
While he remains a fans favourite at Old Trafford, the most ardent Scholes followers will be hoping that the ‘ginger prince’ doesn’t drift away because he is likely to still figure in some games next season. There are already signs of this from the current campaign because of his role in the team. No longer is he the player that can make those late runs in to the box, barring Saturday at Eastlands, and has found himself to rarely venture beyond the centre circle. If he is to be considered as a holding player than he is missing one of the crucial traits, and possibly the only thing on a football pitch he has never been good at- tackling. His main use at his older age is his brilliant passing range, but that only shines when opposition teams don’t press him. Unfortunately his lack of speed creates more demands for his fellow midfielders, hence we tend to hear how others “do the running” for him. In essence, if United play Scholes in a deeper position next season then they are wasting any of the lasting qualities he may still have to offer. His appearances are likely to be few and far between so would it be of any use to play a player that can’t provide what he used to?
I have no issue with Scholes signing a one-year deal but would question how logical it is. After all, you only have to look at what one of the true all-time greats, Zinedine Zidane, said about him: “My toughest opponent? Scholes. He is the complete midfielder. He is undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation.” These are some words from the Frenchman but while there have been question marks over his value to the side in some lackluster games by the whole team, the same could be directed to him next season if he struggles in matches. Whilst Scholes is no longer the attacking midfielder he once was, this is a priority that United need to address this summer and will surely attempt to fill that gap. Finance is becoming an issue at Old Trafford and a year’s worth of wages will still go to Scholes even if he plays a bit-part role. There may be some greedy players out there but he isn’t one of them and won’t want to earn his thousands without feeling he has made a sufficient contribution to the team. This term he has scored crucial winners at City, Wolves and of course got United started with their comeback at the San Siro.
The shy man from Salford is set for another season with his one and only club and that surely looks like being his last, so there will be enough motivation for him to make the most out of any playing time that Sir Alex Ferguson gives him. Even though United only give their players one-year contract extensions when they reach 30 it should be for the right reasons so they, along with other clubs, must be careful that it doesn’t turn in to sentimental reasons. Scholes will certainly go down as a United great and now that he has been given one more year at his beloved club, he will want to prove that the deal was of value.
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