Described as ‘a master of his trade’ by his manager following Scholes’ man of the match display in United’s 3-0 opening victory against Newcastle last Monday, the ginger magician rolled back the years to deliver a midfield master class in touch, timing and technique at Old Trafford.
Little wonder his evergreen team-mate Ryan Giggs has lauded the United craftsmen as the best player he has ever worked with at Old Trafford, putting him ahead of talents such as Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo. Giggs enthused:
‘‘I have played with some great players during my time at United but I would have to put Paul Scholes down as the best.”
Yet it is the assessment of French legend Zinedine Zidane, considered by many as the outstanding player of his generation, which is perhaps the most telling evaluation of Scholes’ supreme talents. Zidane revealed he regrets never having played with Scholes during his career and branded him ‘in a class of his own’ despite his growing years.
“There is no doubt for me that Paul Scholes is still in a class of his own,” revealed Zidane.
“He’s almost untouchable in what he does. I never tire of watching him play. You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get.
“One of my regrets is that the opportunity to play alongside him never presented itself during my career.”
Scholes, with nine league titles and two Champions League medals, is certainly one of the best-ever players to grace the Premier League. His pin-point passing and movement is unmatched, while his technical skill and ability to control a game elevates him alongside the best player’s of his generation. And the one man who certainly appreciates such talents, and qualified to make these judgements, is the outrageously gifted Zidane.
The season may be just two games old but the diminutive former England international shows no sign of slowing down just yet, despite his contract running out at the end of the season. Sir Alex may yet persuade Scholes to stay on for another season if he continues to deliver such exquisite performances in the heart of the United midfield this term. The 35-year-old was up to the same old tricks at Craven Cottage on Sunday, firing The Red Devils into the lead with a rasping 25-yard rasping shot which nestled into the corner of David Stockdale’s net, marking his 150th goal for the club.
Despite no longer possessing the pace he once had when he first broke into the United first-team an astonishing 17 seasons ago, his quick footballing brain keeps him one step ahead of his often beleaguered opponents. The midfield veteran was the division’s most accurate passer last term with a remarkable 89.58% of his passes reaching their intended target. Scholes also was the Premier League’s top passer over the opening round of Premier League matches with 104, streets ahead of nearest competitors Yaya Toure and Michael Essien.
United and Ferguson’s next task will be attempting to replace the seemingly timeless Scholes when he finally decides to call it a day and hang up his boots. Yet with Scholes continuing to deliver at the highest level, I wouldn’t bet on this being his last season at Old Trafford.
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