Manchester United: Do they really need to replace Paul Scholes?
Paul Scholes was one of the few great footballers who lived life like an ordinary man. Now after his retirement, Manchester United have a huge void to fill. Or do they?
In the early part of last season, Scholes was in imperious form for United. Playing in a deeper role, he was dictating play like a master. His cross field balls were inch perfect and a couple of times he even managed to find the net. There was talk that he could go on for a couple of seasons more. But as the season progressed, he managed to find himself more on the bench, one of the reasons strangely, was due to Ryan Giggs‘s brilliant form in the center of midfield. Manchester United went into all of the big games later in the season with a Carrick-Giggs midfield combo. And with Rooney playing a deeper role, the creativity of Scholes was compensated by three players in Carrick, Giggs and Rooney.
Manchester United used the formation illustrated above in all of the big games in the second half of the last season. And except in the Champions League final against Barcelona, the Red Devils were quite successful in most of them. The success of this formation was mainly due to the fact that Wayne Rooney played a deeper role. One player who has the technical ability of Scholes is Rooney, he can pass like him, hit cross field balls and is an even better finisher. Of course Rooney can’t control a game like Scholes does, but the way United are playing has changed. Ashley Young and Nani can form a devastating pair of wingers and the chemistry between Rooney and Hernandez can bamboozle any defence in the world. But the lack of a quality midfielder was clearly exposed in the Champions League Final against Barcelona. Of course that was mainly due to fact that they were 2 V 3 in the center of midfield. Carrick could not cope with Xavi and Iniesta, and the defence was exposed horribly. Whenever United had the ball they were unable to retain it, but having said that, they were missing Darren Fletcher who can harass the best of players and whose energy would have been vital in the final. Interestingly Fletcher also missed the 2009 fina,l so one cannot still say how he would fare against Messi & co, although one maybe inclined to say that the Catalan giants would have found a way past him.
One major factor in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team over the years has been the ability to adapt. Player after player has left Old Trafford, but no one has been missed. Jaap Staam is the only player selling whom SAF admitted was a mistake. Otherwise the Beckhams, Ronaldos, Nistelrooys and Tevez’s all who are of the highest quality and left United were never missed. Instead United simply adopted a different strategy and played to their strengths.
One player who would be on Ferguson’s mind on filling the void left by Scholes would be Anderson. The laid back Brazillian so far has not been able to satisfy his massive potential, but he sure can play a vital role for Man United next season. He revels in an advanced role and when given the opportunity to drive forward with ball. A different sort of player to Scholes but still effective.
One thing is for sure: Paul Scholes is one of the rare talents in football and even a rarer human being. Not only the Old Trafford faithful but the whole football world will miss him.
Zinedine Zidane :
My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation.