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Manchester United Idols: Paul Scholes – a precise kicker of the ball and a vital cog in the team

Manchester United has an outstanding midfielder in Paul Scholes, who came though the famous Class of 92 alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and brothers Phil and Gary Neville. Scholes began training with United at the age of 14, joining the club in 1991 when he left school. Scholes is asthmatic, which did not seem to hamper his footballing career and also suffered from Osgood–Schlatter disease, something which affects younger athletes.

Trained by the late Eric Harrison, Scholes and his teammates shone brightly at a young age, which is something that set him and many others up for their entire careers. In 1992 and 1993, United won the FA Youth Cup at a time where the Class of 92 started to graduate from youth football, setting sights towards reaching the first team, at the time managed by Sir Alex Ferguson. Scholes and his teammates had the talent to succeed, some of them for a number of years.

Scholes was not part of the team that lifted the trophy in 1992 against Crystal Palace after a 6-3 aggregate victory but the following year, beating Leeds United 4-1 on aggregate, he played in both legs of the final. This saw him rise into the first team, although in the 1993/94 season he did not made a single appearance with United winning back-to-back Premier League titles before he kicked a ball in the team. He did win 11 league titles during his career though, so missing out on two will not faze him.

At the start of the 1994/95 season, with United seeking to win the Premier League for the third season in a row, Scholes made his debut at first team level, starting against Port Vale in the League Cup second round first leg at Vale Park with the ginger ninja scoring a brace in the 2-1 victory. He scored seven goals in 25 appearances throughout all competitions that season with a new, youthful United team pushing themselves forward. However, that season, Blackburn Rovers pipped United to their third Premier League crown.

By the 1995/96 season, all six members of the Class of 92 were regular starters in the first team with Ferguson’s grip on the club showing signs of success, which would continue to run for almost the entirety of the manager’s career at the club. Scholes was becoming a magnificent player for the club and that would drive him to play for the club for the remainder of his career, and then some.

Scholes was great with a football. He could pick out a teammate or even the manager from the other side of the training ground, hitting them exactly where he wanted to. This led to him being nicknamed ‘Sat-Nav’ by his teammates. Scholes won his first Premier League title in the 1995/96 season, doubling the clubs glory with the FA Cup that season also – the club second double in three seasons. Trophies and medals were something players of Scholes’ ability were always going to win. It is just a shame that he could not have won something when playing for England.

Scholes was capped by England from 1997 until 2004 when he retired from international football. He played 66 times, scoring 14 goals, which included a hat-trick against Poland at Wembley and a brace against Scotland at Hampden Park the same year, both matches were UEFA Euro 2000 qualifiers. Scholes also played in the FIFA World Cup in 1998, UEFA Euro 2000 and 2004 with England not getting any bragging rights despite more than 30 years of hurt. No fault of his own – they tried but it was not meant to be.

Scholes hung up his boots for England in 2004. Perhaps it was too early but the player had a young family and he was missing a lot so decided to stick to club football. He also did not think that his form in his last 20-30 matches was good enough and Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were the main starters in the team, at least centrally. It was a choice that he regrets making so soon. Earlier this month, Scholes said:

“I had a young family at the time and going away for England for ten days at a time, sometimes six weeks in the summer, it just wasn’t ideal and I wasn’t enjoying it.

“I know a lot was made of Sven-Goran Eriksson playing me on the left-hand side of midfield but that was never the problem.

“My form in the last 20 or 30 caps wasn’t quite good enough and Steven and Frank were two top-class players who he went with centrally.

“I went on the left but I played there many times for United and was quite successful there, scored a few goals so it was never really why I left England.

“It was just a personal choice.

“I do regret leaving England so soon. I went back to United and my football changed.

“I had been a player who was expected to score goals all the time for England, which I was judged on.”

Before the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Fabio Capello wanted Scholes to come out of international retirement, six years after making what may have been a premature decision. At the time, he was playing in a much deeper midfield role, a position he had only played in for United. England had a few injuries and he was given a few days to decide. He remained in international retirement, clearly feeling that he had made the right decision six years earlier. Scholes said:

“I was tempted to come back, you’d hear whispers all the time but there was only the one time really officially.

“It was before the World Cup in South Africa, I’d played well that season and they were struggling with a few injuries.

“Fabio Capello wanted me to come back, I got a phone call from Stuart Pearce who was on the staff.

“I had a few days to think about it and I felt I was playing well enough, I just decided that it was wrong.

“I hadn’t been involved in qualifying and there were other players who had been in the squad for two years, being away from their families.

“Sir Alex Ferguson saw that he wanted me to play well into my 30s and I needed a different position.

“I moved back and controlled games from midfield, sitting deep, and I was never that player for England.

“I ended up playing there for five or six years and looking back playing there from 30-35 was probably the most enjoyable part of my career.

“I really enjoyed that position, I wasn’t scoring goals but to sit back and control games, I really enjoyed it. I finished with England too early to progress in that position.”

Scholes impressed many a player at United, one that thought he was phenomenal was Nani, who signed for United from Sporting CP, just like Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani was a good player but consistency was something he lacked a lot of the time, but saying that, he was responsible for some great goals which led to achievements for United. The Portuguese winger was taken aback by Scholes, confirming that he was phenomenal, saying:

“One player who really surprised me and impressed me a lot in the beginning was Paul Scholes – he was phenomenal.

My favourite was still Cristiano Ronaldo – the best. Best player ever? I have seen so many… even from the past like Maradona, Pele… but I would pick my companion of many battles, someone I have won so much with, someone I really respect.

“Numbers don’t lie and they also show he is the best – Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Scholes could have been considered as the or if not one of the best midfielders in world football during his career. He seemed to be a one club player and never really cause much trouble, seemingly happy to continue to play for United and do what he could on the pitch, the majority of the time at least. Speaking to the BBC recently, Scholes confirmed that he was never really made aware of other clubs wanting to sign him, other than one conversation he had with a football agent. He said:

“I was never ever made aware of any team coming in for me. I did have one phone call off an agent, Bryan Robson’s old agent, he rang me while we were away at Euro 2000 to ask me if I would be interested in going to Inter Milan but that’s the only phone call I ever had.

I never heard anything after that and the manager never said anything to me. I was playing at my boyhood club, I was a Manchester lad, we were winning trophies all the time.

“If the manager said to me that he didn’t want me I would definitely have gone if there was a big club abroad who wanted me but there was never any need to ever think about Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan because I was at the biggest club in the world anyway.

“We didn’t win as many Champions Leagues as we should have but we were every inch as good as those teams, if not better.”

Scholes will be remembered from one of the coolest Manchester United goals of all time which came against Barcelona in the clubs run to reaching and winning the UEFA Champions League in 2008. After a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp, United were at home to Barça needing something special. It was Scholes’ goal that did just that, putting United into the final in Moscow in which they would face Chelsea. What seemed like greatness personified was confirmed as slicing the ball. Scholes said:

“I miskicked it, personally. I sliced it off my foot.”

Scholes ended his career at United at the end of the 2010/11 season, winning 10 Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, five FA Community Shields, two UEFA Champions League trophies, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup. He played in his testimonial on the 5 August 2011 against the New York Cosmos, reunited with Eric Cantona who was the director of football for the club. United won 6-0 with Scholes scoring the opening goal with a trademark free-kick from 25 yards. He was a big miss for United, who struggled in midfield thereafter.

His retirement lasted around six months or so with the player resigning for United in January 2012 and coming on as a substitute against Manchester City, a 3-2 victory in the FA Cup that season. That season was to be his last, along with Ferguson, who announced his plans to return towards the end of the season. United, Ferguson, and Scholes ended this in style though, wrestling the Premier League title from City, making it number twenty, a two-title lead over Liverpool. Scholes’ career was a great one for United, playing 718 times and scoring 155 goals. He only made 499 league appearances for United, one more might have been fitting. Paul Scholes, Sat-Nav, the Ginger Ninja, whatever you called him can only be replaced with the word; legend.

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking Paul Scholes’ transfer advice this summer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to be following the advice of former United teammate Paul Scholes this summer. ESPN has reported that United are interested in signing RB Leipzig central defender Dayot Upamecano this summer which was some of the advice that Scholes gave Solskjaer earlier in the summer. The United legend feels that United captain, Harry Maguire should have someone more capable playing alongside him as Victor Lindelof has not been ideal recently.

Scholes has talked about Maguire’s ‘slight weaknesses’ which have been seen during his first season at the Old Trafford club. United kept 13 clean sheets with both Lindelof and Maguire during the 2019/20 season, and the duo improved during the second half of the season but Lindelof was at fault for United conceding a goal against Sevilla which saw them exit the UEFA Europa League at the semi-final stage with Sevilla winning the competition for the sixth time. Speaking on BT Sport about United needing a ‘dominant centre half’ and reported by The Mirror, Scholes said:

“I think they could do with a centre half, I’ve said that all along. I’m not sure Lindelof going to be good enough as a partner for Maguire. I think they need a dominant defender next to him.

“Defensively, the full backs are OK. On the ball you’d have to question but defensively they’re OK. I think the defensive record over the last 15, 20 games has been very good, probably one of the best in the league so you have to take that into respect as well.

“But I still think a dominant centre-half next to Maguire, just to cover for the slight weaknesses he has.”

United will be expected to mount a credible Premier League title challenge during the 2020/21 season and Solskjaer has a starting XI that could do that although the quality in the remainder of the squad is the real issue. In defence, United have Lindelof and Maguire as the first choice pairing, then there is Eric Bailly, who has suffered a number of injuries in his time at United. From there, you have Chris Smalling, who seems to be seeking an exit with AS Roma interested, Marcos Rojo, who seems to be close to an exit and Phil Jones, who has been injury prone throughout his career at United.

Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi will provide some depth in the squad but the pair lack experience with Mengi still a teenager and looking to make the rise into the first team inside the next season or two. If United were to get rid of Smalling, Jones and Rojo this summer, Solskjaer would need to sign at least one central defender, which would leave Lindelof, Bailly, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Mengi (sparingly) and at least one new signing in defence this summer. However, there is no guarantee that Solskjaer will be able to sell the likes of Jones and Rojo based on a lack of interest in the pair.

I believe that Solskjaer wants to build something great at United but he will need to be backed by the hierarchy at the club, which is something that is not as guaranteed as it should be. The signing of Donny van de Beek will be a welcome addition at the club and a signing that should ensure United’s midfield is one of the best in the Premier League. If a winger and a striker can be signed, alongside a defender, then United will be ready to take on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to close the gap on the pair and actually challenge for the title for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United never seem to listen to Paul Scholes’ transfer advice

Manchester United legend Paul Scholes was never one for talking during his playing career but ever since his retirement, his second one, he has been quite vocal about his former club. Some criticise the player who was nicknamed SatNav because he can be divisive in his opinion but a lot of the time, he is just the frustrated voice of a supporter of the club. It must hurt him seeing United in the position they are in compared to the position the club was in when he was a player.

Scholes has stated that the clubs executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward needs to be splashing the cash on proven world-class talent with the club linked to Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho for much of 2020. However, it would seem that the club would rather spend less money on players who have promise, not the talent that is needed to flood the first team with stars that are able to make the difference on the pitch and guide United to the promised land.

In the past few days, United have been linked with Bournemouth winger David Brooks as an option should United not sign Sancho. Brooks is a good player and could become a special player with the right coaching and talent around him but he is a player that should be acquired in addition to Sancho, not instead of. The player’s technical ability is of great quality and he could very well make the step up and succeed at United but is he really an option should United miss out on Sancho. If Sancho is the number one target and Brooks is a close second, who has worked that out?

Scholes is 100% correct here. United seem to have the mentality of allowing the media to report players that they are linked to, not stating anything to suggest the club is or is not interested in the specific player, allowing speculation to rage on throughout the summer, doing very little in the background to get things done. Last summer, United needed to sign at least five players, eventually signing three, none of which arrived at the same time. It would seem that United are incapable of signing more than one player at a specific time. Speaking to BT Sport after United’s defeat to Sevilla in the UEFA Europa League semi-final on Sunday and reported by The Mirror, Scholes said:

“You talk about quality, talk about spending money on centre forwards and wide players.

“You talk about hundreds of millions for those players, but those are the players that win you trophies, the ones that win you medals.

“We know all this Sancho thing is going on, but they need to start spending the money. If they want to win trophies, they’ve got to start spending the money.”

United knew that Borussia Dortmund would be demanding £100 million or more for Sancho this summer, that was something that was initially reported in December, or maybe before. Surely United would have contacted the German club ahead of time and worked out what was really wanted for the player, then with the time available, three months extra due to the coronavirus pandemic, get a deal done so things can run smoothly at the start of the summer transfer window.

But no, that seems too hard for a club as big as United to do. The rumours of a director of football returned at the start of the summer and once again nothing has happened. It seems the club are trying to placate the media and the supporters, knowing that as the new season nears, nothing has happened and United look as if they are clueless, which is probably what they are. Inept if you will. Incapable of getting what the club needs to keep cash at the club, where it can eventually be trousered by one of the Glazers.

Written by John Walker

Bruno Fernandes has almost instantly achieved what it took time for Paul Scholes to do

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha has praised Bruno Fernandes for the impact he has had at the Old Trafford club since his arrival during the January transfer window. United probably should have signed the player last summer, which could have led to a brilliant season for them, if the player had the same impact, but next season will have to do in that respect. Fernandes had literally changed the landscape at the club since January, leading them to a third-placed finish in the Premier League.

Fernandes made a total of 22 appearances for United this season, scoring 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions, playing in the Premier League, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. United reached the semi-final stages of both the FA Cup and the Europa League this season, losing to Chelsea and Sevilla respectively. Saha has been impressed with what he has seen from the Portuguese midfielder this season and will be wondering what lies in store for the club and the player during the 2020/21 season. Speaking to the Football Index Podcast and reported by The Mirror, Saha said:

“I don’t remember a player ever coming to Manchester United or the Premier League and having the immediate impact that Bruno Fernandes has had.

“He’s demanded a much higher standard of this Manchester United squad and the players around him have risen to the occasion. Fernandes has of course scored a lot of penalties, but he has been a big attacking threat from open play and also drives the high press to regain possession back.

“It took even Paul Scholes a couple of years to gain the respect and ability to impact games like this, but Bruno Fernandes has achieved it immediately.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he will be able to maintain this form next season and he will only become more effective if he is surrounded by more quality players.”

On his arrival at United, Paul Pogba was still on the sidelines through unjust, recovering from ankle surgery. It was immediately wondered what sort of impact the Frenchman would make in a team that also consisted of Fernandes. The Frenchman seemed excited about linking up with the midfielder and when he got around to doing just that, it seemed to work well. Pogba has a new lease of life at United, according to Saha and he feels that his compatriot will go from strength to strength at the club with Fernandes in the same team. Saha said:

“I think Paul Pogba has been given a new lease of life now that Manchester United has signed Bruno Fernandes.

“Pogba is very motivated by Fernandes and having him in the midfield next to him has given him more freedom and far more options on the ball.

“He has also benefitted massively by now being able to share the spotlight with Fernandes both when Manchester United are playing well, but more importantly when they have a bad result too.”

Fernandes will be enjoying his rest from a busy 2019/20 season, which for United lasted 370 days from start to finish, despite the three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Playing for both Sporting Clube de Portugal and United in the same season, the 25-year-old has made a total of 50 appearances, scoring 27 goals and 22 assists, meaning that he was directly involved in 49 goalscoring actions in 50 matches, just short of one per match, which if continued next season for United, would be the start of a great period for the club, especially if they end up strengthening the squad this summer, which is something the club must do.

Written by John Walker

Solskjaer keeps pressure off De Gea, Ferdinand slams him, Scholes defends him

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stated that he will not put any more pressure on goalkeeper David De Gea as he will not be talking about his performance against Chelsea which saw the London club score twice with goals that the Spanish goalkeeper should have saved quite easily. Solskjaer has leapt in to defend the goalkeeper in the past but bluntly refused to discuss the topic in his press conference ahead of the penultimate Premier League match of the season.

United will take on West Ham United at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday evening with a view on putting his side in the top three of the league with a victory over David Moyes’ side. Solskjaer will be protective of his goalkeeper and will know that his mistakes against Chelsea will be the main talking point ahead of the next match, which will either result in the player being dropped from the team or being backed by the manager and his teammates, keeping his place in the team. The Sun quoted Solskjaer as saying:

“This is not going to become a David De Gea press conference. We’re just going to stick together.

“David’s mentally strong enough to know his job is to perform in training the next day and be ready for the games.

“We’re not going to talk about individuals. No one here wants to feel we are putting more pressure on them.”

Former teammate of De Gea, Rio Ferdinand has slammed the goalkeeper for his current form stating that he was not in a position to be defended. Granted, Ferdinand played in the same team as De Gea for a number of years so will have knowledge of how the player is when he has made a mistake. There is no hiding place for the player and he will know that too. Ferdinand, speaking to BT Sport about the goalkeeper and reported by The Mirror, said:

“When people make mistakes, they’re open to criticism. That’s just natural, that is just how football is,

“David De Gea is no exception. He’s made mistakes, glaring mistakes in some big games, notably the game against Chelsea in the semi-final at Wembley.

“Yes, he should be doing better. I have played with David, he’s his own biggest critic.

“He’ll be sitting at home mulling over these, going through the situations and making sure that he tries to get rid of these mistakes that he is committing at the moment.”

Another former United player, Paul Ince has given advice to Solskjaer about how to deal with the goalkeeper who is complacent. It seems funny that Ince is giving others advice on how to manage players, when in actual fact, his management history has been poor at best. Ince managed Macclesfield Town, MK Dons (twice), Blackburn Rovers, Notts County and Blackpool and did nothing but fail at each club. It is strange that this guy, who shows embitterment to United, feels he’s qualified to even have an opinion. Anyway, speaking to Paddy Power via The Mirror, Ince said:

“David [De Gea] knows he should have saved the second goal, but that’s done now. I can’t speak for David’s confidence, but he’s mentally very strong. He knows he should save that one 100 times out of 100, but that’s football for you.

“Any mistake you make, as a goalkeeper, will always be magnified. We know that, but what we’re seeing from David de Gea at the minute are basic, schoolboy errors. They are errors that someone on his wage and at his level simply should not be making – and not for the first time, too.

“If you go and look at the season, there’s several absolutely horrendous mistakes that just shouldn’t be happening. When you make mistakes like that, you have to come out in the next couple of games and stand up and be counted – to nullify that criticism – but it seems like he isn’t capable of doing that at the moment.

“You need to prove you’re the No.1 goalkeeper. He made a couple of decent saves against Chelsea, but the fact is, in big games you expect that. In those big games, the best keepers in the world aren’t making mistakes to begin with.

“My feeling is that De Gea doesn’t have enough, or any, competition. He is totally complacent. Sergio Romero only plays once in a blue moon, but Dean Henderson is waiting in the wings, and the manager needs to create a bit of a challenge and competition at the club.

“Right now, De Gea knows there’s no challenger to him, that he will be the first name on the team sheet, and he’s playing like someone who knows that, too. As a player, if you think you’re going to play every game, it leads to complacency.”

Paul Scholes, another former teammate of De Gea has done what you would expect from him and back the player. Scholes played alongside the Spanish goalkeeper for the final years of his career at the club, even coming out of retirement to play some more football. De Gea will be happy to see some players in his corner, past and present. It will mean a lot to him. The mistakes happened and there is no taking them away. Ot is now embellished in the club’s history. Reported by The Mirror, the United legend said:

“Yep, he’s having a bad time. But without him United wouldn’t have finished in the top 10 the last 6 years…he’ll be back!”

Finally, Solskjaer has refused to confirm whether the player, 29, will start against West Ham in the final Premier League match of the season at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. It would not surprise me to see De Gea starting against the Hammers but it would be a gamble that would bring criticism to the doorstep of Solskjaer if it did not pay off. Just the same would be if the player was dropped for Sergio Romero and that did not pay off, so either way you look at it, Solskjaer will not be able to win with the media. Reported by the Manchester Evening News, the United manager said:

“No, because I don’t want to talk about it. We stick together as a group. Of course we’re going to stick together as a group and as I said he’s proven before he’s mentally strong. We’ll stay together and we’ll see the team on Wednesday night.

“You have to [make big calls]. Every position is a big one here so you’ve got to do what is right for the team and the club. We’ll do that on Wednesday, we’ll do that on Sunday and then when the season’s finished we’ll make more decisions.

“Everything we talk about is between ourselves. We keep that relationship open and every player can trust me to keep that confidential.”

United have it all to play for on Wednesday evening. With Leicester City being beaten by Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and the fact that the two teams have the same amount of points and the goal difference is the same, although Leicester have scored 67 goals to United’s 63, it gives United the opportunity to get one over Brendan Rodger’s side before Sunday’s showdown ta the King Power Stadium. With a victory over the Hammers, United could go third in the league with Chelsea facing Liverpool, at Anfield. This is Solskjaer and United’s chance to get one over both teams ahead of them.

Written by John Walker

Paul Scholes feels that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a mistake not signing Erling Haaland in January

Former Manchester United midfielder and Class of 1992 graduate Paul Scholes feels that his former teammate and current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer missed a trick not signing Erling Haaland during the January transfer window. This is despite the fact that Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood being on fire right now.

Martial have four goals in four matches, Greenwood has three in his last two matches and Rashford has only scored once, despite looking sharp since the restart. Borussia Dortmund signed Haaland for just £18 million in January, signing the Norwegian player from RB Salzburg with the player scoring 16 goals and three assists in 18 appearances since.

Scholes believes that Haaland could have been one of the final pieces in Solskjaer’s jigsaw at the club and could have gone a long way to solving United problems in front of goal this season. Solskjaer used to manage the striker at Molde. In total this season, Haaland has 44 goals and 10 assists in 40 appearances between both clubs.

It is certainly something that Scholes sees as a missed opportunity but for all he knows, Solskjaer could feel the exact same way. At the time the young Norwegian striker was linked to the club, United were in the middle of a rift with Mino Raiola, the agent who secured the move for Haaland. United were not going to do business with him again based on what he has been trying to engineer with Paul Pogba. Scholes said:

“Once the German football came back and I watched him properly, I thought, ‘Why did Manchester United not just pay whatever anybody wanted for him?’

“He looks that good, he’s still young, and he’s an out-and-out goalscorer. He’s quick as well, he’s got real pace. He’s a big lad, he’s a presence, and he scores goals – and that’s priceless.

“Looking back – and do you know what, he still might be available, who knows, in time – but United are going to have to pay big, big money for him. But so what? He looks the real deal.”

Whilst it looks like United have missed out, looking at Mason Greenwood, who has come a long way in his first proper season in the first team at the club, he excites a lot more that Haaland, in my opinion. Granted, I would love it if United signed a player like Haaland, who has come a long way in his ability over the last few years. Greenwood though in unexciting prospect and United lack of movement for Haaland could pay off.

Ryan Giggs names Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes as the best two players he ever played with at Manchester United

Manchester United winger, Ryan Giggs spend the entirety of his playing career at the Old Trafford club, making his debut on the 2 March 1991 at the age of 17 and playing his last match on the 6 May 2014, aged 40 at the time. It was a successful period of time for the Welsh winger, who is now the manager of his home nation, Wales.

Giggs played a total of 963 times, starting 802 times, appearing as a substitute 161 times. He scored 168 goals in his club career, also assisting 247 times, playing more than 68,000 minutes of football. Giggs is the most decorated player in English club history, winning nearly everything he could in the game, including 13 Premier League titles.

Giggs has played with many great players, including Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes. However, it is the latter two who he considered the best players he has ever played with. Speaking recently with Manchester United, he said:

“The best player I played with is Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously he was only there for a short space of time and he was brilliant for United and then went on to do even better elsewhere.

“Scholesy is the best player I’ve played with at United. You’ve all seen it in training – you couldn’t get near him. His brain was just quicker than everyone else, his range of passing, nasty.

“You think you’ve got him and he’ll just pop it off and give it the little faint. He was just brilliant in training.”

Ronaldo was a magnificent player and one that United missed after he left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009. For United, he made a total of 292 appearances for the club, scoring 118 goals and 69 assists, winning three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the FA Community Shield, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Ronaldo signed for United from Sporting Clube de Portugal in the summer of 2003, after playing 31 times for the club, scoring five goals and five assists, replacing Beckham and wearing the famous number seven shirt, scoring some cracking goals, from his free-kick against Portugal to the opening goal of the Champions League final in 2008.

Leaving United in the summer of 2009 for £80 million, Real Madrid was his future, playing a total of 438 times for the club, scoring 450 goals and 131 assists, winning La Liga twice, four Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups, among others. Now playing for Juventus, Ronaldo has played 75 times, scoring 53 goals and 14 assists, winning the Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana.

Scholes played for twenty years, three fewer than Giggs, retiring from the club twice. He made his debut on the 21 September 1994 at the age of 19, playing his final game on the 19 May 2013, aged 38. Scholes played a total of 718 times, starting 577 and appearing as a substitute 141 times, scoring 155 goals and 73 assists, playing more than 51,000 minutes of football.

Scholes was a great player for United and played with the liked of Roy Keane, Rooney, Giggs, Ronaldo, Van Persie, Van Nistelrooy, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, amongst others. He played against some of the greatest footballers of European and World football, many of whom praised the player as being one of the greatest ever midfielders.

Scholes did not achieve as much as Giggs at the club, ending his career at the same time as legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. He won 11 Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, five Community Shields, two Champions Leagues, one Intercontinental Cup and one Club World Cup. A true legend of the game, just like Giggs and Ronaldo.

copyright: JW