Paul Scholes is a Manchester United legend, one of the greatest players to have played in the Premier League; but at 35 it may be time for him to call it a day. His recent performance against Fulham was atrocious; he was off the pace and was unable to make any impression in the final third of the pitch. His mistake led to Fulham’s first goal and as incredible as it is to say, he looked out of his depth at Craven Cottage.
Described by Zinedine Zidane as ‘the greatest player of his generation’, Scholes in his prime was an extraordinary player, an attacking midfielder the likes of which England may never see again. His range of passing combined with his clinical finishing made him a dangerous weapon against any side. As he has aged, Scholes has had to adapt his game drastically; he no longer makes late runs into the box and can be identified now as more of a deep-lying playmaker. His technique is still as good as ever as shown by his excellent volleyed goal against West Ham recently, but his legs have all but gone. He no longer has the pace and energy to dominate a midfield and no wonder, he is 35 years of age and all good things eventually come to an end. He is unfortunate in that he will be compared to Ryan Giggs who at 36, is still performing at a remarkably high level on a consistent basis.
Scholes has done well to keep his place in the team for such a prolonged period; his place in United’s history is secure. The player that was brought in as his successor is yet to make an impression; Anderson has not developed as quickly as the club would have hoped, but he is still young and there is time for him to grow into the role. United’s first choice central-midfield is now made up of Fletcher and Carrick (Hargreaves notwithstanding), and Scholes only plays in games where the management feel he can still make an impact. The performance against Fulham showed that these games are becoming increasingly rare. If he was at a smaller club, Scholes could still play a pivotal role, but at a club at the very top, challenging for 4 titles, it is difficult for him to stay relevant.
At a team lower down the league, Scholes could make a real impact, but his days at United seem numbered. He has been offered an extension to his contract but has yet to sign it. He should think carefully about whether he wants to, he has already made it clear that he would like to feature more but this is unlikely if he repeats the level of performance shown against Fulham. It is almost unimaginable to see Scholes playing for another club, so perhaps he should call time on his career; if he attempts to cling on to his place in the United team it could damage his legacy; his past achievements deserve more than to be remembered as a fading star.