Whilst the Premier League gives up faith on the current crop of multi-million pound stars that are unable to find the back of the net, tie up a midfield that boasts international wingers and ball-hungry strikers or manage a team suitably financed by a Malaysian air tycoon: the fans are understandably double-checking their screens amidst a quiet warbling of Rocky Horror’s lyrics, “Let’s do the Time Warp Again.”
At the end of the 2010/11 campaign, football fans across England were understandably right to expect they had seen the last of opposition players flying high up into the air after a Paul Scholes “tackle” and no longer have to be subjected to Mark Hughes bemoaning a lack of ambition wherever he goes, despite spending £17.5m on players like Roque Santa Cruz. The thought of Thierry Henry returning to the Premier League wasn’t even in Richard Dunne’s wildest dreams.
So, when Sir Alex Ferguson managed to finally convince his most favourite ginger to come out of retirement 6 months after he had announced it was the “right time for me to stop playing,” hung-over football fans waking up late Sunday morning to watch Manchester United win 3-2, but walk away like the defeated team, were understandably confused when they saw Paul Scholes named on the bench.
Despite the fact that Fergie didn’t want Scholes to retire in the first place and had always offered him the chance to re-join the playing squad, amateur psychologist Nicky Butt informed the world that bringing him back, “was a smart move by the manager,” considering the timing because, “It took all the attention off [City’s] home record and the bookmakers’ odds and switched all the attention to Paul Scholes and Manchester United.”
Ignoring the fact that not everything Sir Alex Ferguson does is some kind of mental game of labyrinth, Butt concluded that, “It was a great little bit of psychology.”
If heart palpitations hadn’t been induced by the last-minute surprise return of Paul Scholes, no way eluded to in the English media as early as November, or the clever link-up play he performed with James Milner, then Tuesday night’s love in with Thierry Henry featuring players of lesser ability, probably evoked at least the smallest of emotionally nostalgic twinges of the heart.
Having told fans, modestly, that he wasn’t “coming here to be a hero,” instead sympathetically “coming [back] to help,” Henry came off of where he intended to sit for 6 weeks, “ I’m going to be a bench player,” and scored the winning goal, playing up to the magic of the F.A Cup.
Having done so, Thierry Henry reacted in a way only previously expected of Paulo Di Canio this season: he rose his arms above his head, showered himself in ecstasy and felt the stupor us mere mortals can only ever dream of experiencing, “Now I know how people feel when they score for the club they support.”
If the strong stench of nostalgia hadn’t quite engulfed your immediate vicinity, then Sunday is a footballing treat: Mark Hughes returns to football management half a season after explaining that he had left Craven Cottage because, he is, “a young, ambitious manager,” who wishes to, “move on to further [his] experiences.”
The manager, no stranger to splashing the cash, has shown his ambition already, by supposedly listing Didier Drogba , Darren Bent , Wayne Bridge and Alex among his transfer targets; whether QPR quite possess the same ambition to appeal to such players remains to be seen.
Since leaving Blackburn Rovers for Manchester City , where he signed Wayne Bridge – a player he had spent time with during his playing days at Southampton F.C – as well as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Mark Hughes has lived off of expensive foreigners, so should find himself at home QPR.
Although a clash of egos may now ensue at QPR, what with Mark Hughes, Joey Barton and Adel Taarabt now all likely to be on and around the pitch – I can’t see Hughes playing Derry and Mackie over Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Phillips – what he can bring to Rangers is astute signings and mid-table security; albeit among the odd woeful purchase.
With the ex-Wales manager, for every Jo he buys, he also brings in a Christopher Samba, a Nigel De Jong and a Vincent Kompany. Among the high-profile names on Mark Hughes’ media-constructed transfer list, is in fact Christopher Samba, the man he bought at Blackburn Rovers for £500k.
Meanwhile, in the world of the fast-becoming Nostalgia League sponsored by Barclays, whilst Paul Scholes took to the pitch for Luis Nani with half an hour left on the clock, watching on from the punditry box was Roy Keane; however, more poignant was the presence of David Beckham , who at one year Scholes’ minor, must’ve been bouncing Romeo on his knee thinking he could surely do a job still, too. Even Owen Hargreaves jogged about for a bit.
With Manchester United highly unlikely to provide a route back into English football to David – that really would be admitting defeat if resigning Paul Scholes didn’t – and Beckham surely scarred by the idea of moving to Loftus Road after Warnock stated that he, “personally can’t see where Beckham is going to get in the team at the moment,” (probably where you insisted on playing Derry or Mackie) there seems few options left for England’s footballing Braveheart.
However, the wheeler-dealer that isn’t Harry Redknapp – he swears if you call him that – may well provide him with a bus ticket for the O.A.P coach to the Nostalgia League: “Could David play for us? It’s a difficult one, I wouldn’t know about the financial side of all of that. The chairman was dealing with his club last time. But as a fella, to have him around the place every day was brilliant. “
Redknapp, in the same interview, raised an extremely valid point, “People keep saying the players today are better than what they were. Well we keep bringing back 37-year-olds so I don’t know about that. It can’t quite be right,” using his poetic license to full flexibility as he referenced the 36-year old David Beckham, the 33-year old Thierry Henry and the 31-year old Robbie Keane in the same breath as the accurately aged Paul Scholes.
Personally, I am enjoying the mini-revival of players in the Premier League that I used to collect as little Panini stickers as a child and it was only today that I was revelling in the memory of a Jay Jay Okocha brace against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Semi-final, whilst watching Manchester City v Liverpool in their same fixture for 2012.
At the rate at which transfers are moving along at the moment, it may just go down as the January bargain window of 2012. So, as Scholes makes his return, Henry makes his and Keane joins Aston Villa on loan, which other aging former Premier League stars are out there and could still do a job this season?
Article courtesy of Jordan Florit from This is Futbol