Scholes is the reason Man Utd struggled in Europe…

Date published: Friday 22nd February 2019 2:50

Send your mails to…

Scholes held back Man Utd
Dear Alex (maybe I was not enough into English football at that time), Paris; You hit on one of the reasons why Scholes is so revered – nostalgia

However, the main reason is simply being a hipster. Zidane said the best player he played against was Scholes, ergo everyone wanting to be cool, says Scholes.

I watched Man Utd as much as anyone else who had Sky in that era and he used to annoy me more than anything. I thought he lost the ball a lot, tried too many Hollywood passes and tackled like a sunday league striker.

The real cutting edge to that team was Beckham and Giggs, but no-one likes to say that because it’s not cool. You have to ask why Scholes was shunted out to the wing for England – because he wasn’t good enough to keep playing in the centre.

This for me was one of the main reasons Utd struggled for so long in Europe – Scholes couldn’t keep hold of the ball.
Fat Man (removed the “Scouse” due to racists in the comments section)


…Was/is Xavi rubbish? Must be, if he thinks that Scholes was “the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years.” Or how about Zidane, that over-rated Frenchman: “My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation.”

Look, I know that my 3 Champions League trophies with Bristol City (FM17x2, FM19x1) don’t qualify me as an expert here, plus I’m a Cape Town-based Man United fan, which (I think?) means I shouldn’t be allowed to buy cereal, but somehow, many of the game’s greats think Scholes was pretty darn good.
Jacques, Cape Town.


…Alex (Paris) – Dear God Sir, what the hell have you done?? You’ve just ruined the next 3 Mailboxes by unleashing hundreds of United fans who will scream, shout and drone on endlessly on about the short ginger bloke who couldn’t tackle. Wake me up on Tuesday morning when it all stops.
Mike, Cayman


…I have just read the mail on Scholes by Alex (maybe I was not enough into English football at that time), Paris. I was going to write a mail back about why I have always rated Scholes and think he is one of the best English midfielders of the Premier League era but I thought I’d let these guys do my talking for me:

“If he was playing with me, I would have scored so many more.”
– Pele

“My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder.”
– Zinedine Zidane

“I’m star-struck when I see Paul Scholes because you never see him. On the pitch you can’t catch him. Off the pitch he disappears.”
– Luis Figo

“I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is.”
– Edgar Davids

“In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen – the most complete – is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything. He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away. If he had been Spanish then maybe he would have been valued more.”
– Xavi

“The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.”
– Patrick Viera

“An amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.”
– Roy Keane

“I tell anyone who asks me – Scholes is the best English player.”
– Laurent Blanc

“I can’t understand why Scholes has never won the player of the year award. He should have won it long ago. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the other ‘stars’.”
– Thierry Henry

“Paul Scholes had the best football brain I’d ever seen in a kid. Let’s face it. Paul Scholes is in a class of his own.”
– Brian Kidd

“Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team.”
– Marcello Lippi

“Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes, he is the best midfielder of his generation. I would had loved to play alongside him.”
– Pep Guardiola

“He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League.”
– Cesc Fabregas

“At La Masia his name was mentioned a lot. He’s a teacher.”
– Lionel Messi

“Nobody else can play the way Paul Scholes does.”
– Dimitar Berbatov

“When we were in training, I used to do a lot of tricks which hardly any players at the club could do. Once I was showing my skills to Scholes. After I finished, Scholes took the ball and pointed to a tree which was about 50m from where we were standing. He said, I’m going to hit it in one shot. He kicked and hit the tree. He asked me to do the same; I kicked about 10 times, but still couldn’t hit it, with that accuracy. He smiled and left.”
– Cristiano Ronaldo

“I wouldn’t swap Paul Scholes for anybody. He is quite simply the most complete footballer I have ever played with. He is the best.”
– Gary Neville

“Best player? For me, it’s Paul Scholes. He’ll do ridiculous things in training like say, “You see that tree over there?” – it’ll be 40 yards away – “I’m going to hit it”. And he’ll do it. Everyone at the club considers him the best.”
– Rio Ferdinand

“I have no hesitation in putting a name to the embodiment of all that I think is best about football. It’s Paul Scholes. In so many ways Scholes is my favourite.”
– Sir Bobby Charlton

“I think Paul Scholes is the best player in England. He’s got the best skills, the best brain. No one can match him. There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere in the world. Paul is irreplaceable.”
– Sir Alex Ferguson

I think when you get praise from players and managers like that (even ignoring former team mates and Sir Alex) you must have been doing something right.
Chris (MUFC)


…In response to Alex (maybe i was not enough into english football at that time), Paris, as a Leeds fan it pains me to say this but anyone who puts Gerrard (goes missing in games) or Lampard (more worthy of an attacking midfielder award) ahead of Scholes in the best English player of all time is, frankly put, daft or biased.

Scholes ‘had it all: the last pass, goals, he was strong, he didn’t lose the ball, vision’. That is paraphrased from what Xavi (yea that Xavi) said about Scholes.

What about Zizou? Well he said: “My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation.”

I think continental people forget Scholes because he retired from internationals so young. Unless you were watching the premier league week in week out you’d never appreciate him fully.

He was truly a class player. Now to go wash myself with bleach.
Barry LUFC


Poetry corner
I was going to send a longwinded response to Alex, Paris about the legend of Paul Scholes and mention why some of the best midfielders “on the continent” have sung his praises, including Zizou and Xavi, but I will let others do that as I sent a couple of rambling mails already this week. Instead I will offer a short ode to Scholes in the form of an acrostic poem, as any normal grown person would in this instance.

Scorer of magnificent goals,
Cross-field passes of gold.
Happy playing deep or in the hole,
One-touch conductor, a joy to behold,
Long-range raspers or ghosting in cold.
Eighteen on the shirt, number 1 on the pitch,
Salford’s ginger prince, couldn’t tackle for shit.

Have a good weekend one and all. Come on United!!
Garey Vance, MUFC


Good news for Chelsea
As a Chelsea fan, it’s been common news for a while now that we were expecting a transfer ban, so this morning’s news is hardly a massive shock.

I’ve received numerous messages from gloating mates trying to wind me up – to little effect.

This could be exactly the sort of thing that sets us on a path that a large number of fans have wanted for a while – which is to see greater trust in youth and less in expensive mercenaries.

Sarri has to stay now, as I doubt anyone will want to join with the ban hanging over us. This gives him more job security and the time to continue to establish his style of football (I still have faith it’ll come good).

Chelsea have a hugely bloated squad with plenty of capable players at the club who are essentially “new transfers” (along with Pulisic).

Yes, it may all go to pot and we’ll have to deal with the crowing opposition fans but if this means that we keep a manager who is aiming to implement an attacking style and we get to see players like Mount, Ampadu, Hudson-Odoi, James, Abraham integrated into the first team – I for one will be happy.
Adam (KTBFFH), Birmingham


…Given the continuing addiction of many Chelsea fans (myself included) in wanting to see youth players rise through the ranks, the transfer window ban could be a great gift. We’re of course appealing and this will probably mean we can be active in the summer but it will hopefully force the club to think more long-term and work to integrate more youth players into the squad rather than buying established players – something I feel that has always been lacking. We’ve always erred on the side of buying established players – hopefully this opportunity will help us to re-balance the scales.

As a consequence, I’d like to see my long-term thinking ambition play out as follows:

Hazard – he is going anyway (unless we get Zidane) so let’s just accept that. I’m also growing more annoyed at his flip-flopping – shows he isn’t really invested in Chelsea and any ‘love’ isn’t wholehearted. £100
Luiz – he is how I like my OJ; unconcentrated. Makes far too many mistakes. Would like to sell him but just let his contract expire at the end of June. £0
Cahill – love him for what he has achieved at Chelsea and he deserves to move on to any club he wants, a la Cech. £0
Rob Green – why does he exist? £0
Zappacosta – meh. £10m
Alonso – can’t head, can’t really defend. £20m
Drinkwater – a forgotten man. £5m
Van Ginkel – another forgotten man. £7m
Giroud – let the contract expire. £0
Pedro – getting past it, shift now for maximum return and to free up for youth players. £15m
Zouma – has done nothing at Everton. £15m
Kenedy – £12m
Moses – £15m
Total income: £199m

Assuming we have a kitty of £100m that’s a nice £299m ish to play with. I’m also assuming Sarri will stay so therefore so does Jorginho.

GK – Kepa
DL – Emerson / Jay Da Silva (Yth)
DR – Dave / Ola Aina (Yth)
CB – Rudiger / Sarr (£30m)
CB – Christensen / Ampadu
DMC – Jorginho / Kante / Ampadu (Ideally we would buy Declan Rice).
MC – Kante / Mount / Ampadu (Yth)
MC – Barkley / RLC / Ampadu
LW – CHO / Willian
RW – Pulisic / Willian
St – Timo Werner (£60m), Jovic (£50m) or Milik (£75m) / Tammy (Yth) We probably need 3 including Tammy which will then likely mean he goes back out on loan or he demands to be sold.

If we can lose Sarri and therefore Jorginho, I’ve love to see Kante move back to DMC and then see us go in for Kai Havertz.

I also have no idea where Ampadu’s best position is so have him covering anything central except up front.

Havertz aside, that’s an outlay of around £150m meaning there is plenty of room to play with. With Havertz, we’re probably looking at around £220m outlay.

*Dreamy sigh*
Mark – a frustrated blue.


…I have written this before, a transfer ban is the best thing that can happen to Chelsea and it has happened.

List of good things that can come out of this:

1. Hazard doing a Griezzman and staying put.
2. CHO finally given a lot of chances and stays.
3. Even if CHO leaves, we begin to use our ridiculously talented youth academy to fill in the squad (and hopefully starting XI).
4. Sarri adapts and plays the kids or gets the sack and in desperation the club hires a coach who not only plays youth but is given an incentive (through salary perhaps?) to do so.
5. Did I mention Hazard may stay?

List of bad things that will happen:

1. Willian, Alonso, Barkley will play regularly.
2. Cahill will get a 5 year contract.
3. Sarri (or new coach) becomes even more rigid and plays Willian, Alonso, Barkley, Cahill and some loanees I’d never like to see play for Chelsea again.
4. We not only play dross footballers regularly, but also finish mid-table for seasons.

Whatever said and done, the circus that is Chelsea never stops.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan.


Give it a rest
Now I love the mail box. But after 10 years of reading I finally feel the need to get involved….. and play the role of the grumpy “not that old” man!

I understand it’s a long break before the two legs of the champions league games, but this in-depth analysis of whether Liverpool had a good result against Munich is really showing the madness of modern football. We’ll know one hundred percent if it was a good result or not. If they get go through to the next round it will have been a good result at home, if they don’t then it won’t have been.

By all means speculate, by all means give an opinion. But don’t start getting statistics involved as though this is a debate than needs or can be resolved now. In a few weeks we’ll know. Relax, enjoy the other matches. It’s football fellas, not science!

Don’t even start me on debates about who has “won the transfer window” before they’ve even seen the new signings play a handful of games!
Joe, London (I’ll be back and I’ll be grumpy!)


Non-league Big Weekend
I’m going out on a limb to boldly claim that I pay more attention to non-league football than most people reading this mailbox. All being well I’ll be at a game tomorrow.

*Grantham versus Matlock sees a team looking to put daylight between them and the relegation zone against a team comfortable in midtable without looking like challenging the promotion picture. Both teams will be looking at this game as eminently winnable, with the Gingerbreads also looking to avenge the 7-0 pumping they suffered in Derbyshire back in October, in Richard Thomas’s first game in charge. They will have almost an entire new team compared to that game, after all. It’s an interesting striker match up, as the home side will look to the pace and skill of youngster Jordan Adebayo-Smith after his debut brace ten days ago, while the visitors’ line will be led by Craig Westcarr (formerly of Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Mansfield Town and Chesterfield)., and they should also have midfielder Chris Salt, one of the 56 players to appear for Grantham this season, in their squad.

*Elsewhere in the Evo-Stik Premier Division the pick of the games looks to be Warrington Town hosting Nantwich Town, in a Cheshire derby between the sides in second and fourth. Wire’s win over South Shields last weekend opened up a five-point game between those two sides, with Town level on points with table-toppers Farsley Celtic (but behind on goal difference). Celtic host 11th-placed Witton Albion, so will have the perfect opportunity to take advantage of any slip up.

The battle for the last playoff spot sees the teams either side of the divide both facing struggling sides as Scarborough Athletic host Mickleover Sports and Gainsborough Trinity travel to North Ferriby United. The Villagers are in serious trouble – 22 points from safety with only 36 left to play for in a division notorious for being a graveyard for sides relegated into it, but that’s the least of their worries: they’ve an owner that wants to relocate the club (but has been refused permission) and there’s been talk of a winding-up petition, Hopefully they can pull through it and sort things out, even temporarily.

*Big Weekend mentioned Halesowen Town’s poor goalscoring record. Away from their league campaign the Yeltz pumped Grantham 4-0 in the FA Trophy, with Lee Hughes (yes, that one) among the goals. Their youth side also won that incredible game 9-8 against Nuneaton Borough.

*As well as the proposed shake-up for Step 3 and Step 4 that is underway, temporarily complicating the promotion picture, higher up the pyramid more spanners are set to be thrown into the works. While four teams will be relegated from the National League, the majority (including all of the current bottom four) are southern teams, which would require a realignment of teams and moving the northernmost National League South teams to National League North. Similar to how Hereford are no one’s idea of “northern”, Gloucester City or St Albans City look set for away trips to Blyth and Darlington next season.

*Without dredging up too much from earlier in the week, one of the main things to take away from John Nicholson’s pieces about football on television is that the Premier League’s greatest trick was to change football from a live experience to a televised one. Non-league football is an affordable and enjoyable way of making football a live experience again, not least because it’s on when they’re not allowed to televise football. Seems to me the choice is go to a pub full of braying hoo-rays and part-time rugby union fans or sit in the sunshine and watch football. Not much of a choice really. I probably will still go to the pub before the game.
Ed Quoththeraven


They’re on to us
Did you publish that e-mail from Alex in Paris as an attempt to drum up some business for the Friday afternoon mailbox? Enjoy reading those quotes from Zidane and Xavi again.
Robert, Birmingham.


…It’s clear as day that you’re really just bamming up Tottenham fans with the ‘last big step up’ comment. Typical Friday morning mailbox hand grenade.


Diamond Geezers
Thanks lads – that’s made my Friday. Even more than beating Reading 3-0 at their place with two goals from Luca Ricciarelli.

Not really the same when he’s literally made up.
Aidan, EFC, London


…I haven’t written in since the Filthy Genius debate, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the Diamond Geezer series since its inception. I’ve played some football manager games (never found them exiting enough) in the far distant past but I never succumbed the all-consuming addiction that was Championship Manager. Unlike others I’ve known who’ve lost (enriched?) 3 months of their summer lives taking *obscure lower league team* to back-to-back champions league wins over Juventus or similar.

I’ve particularly enjoyed ‘watching’ the fictional matches skillfully described by Mike Paul (right down to the dressing room insights, white board tactics, smelly shirts and ‘back on the bus lads’ spiel) and the great thing about this series is that it could clearly run for quite a long time, or maybe just until R&D retain the champions league at least once. For clarity, I would happily read through it all over the next few years.

Mike Paul is a bit like Solksjaer at the moment in that he’s riding the crest of a wave and seemingly getting the best of out his team/tactics etc., but as with Solksjaer I’m looking forward to seeing how R&D cope when the inevitable bad result(s?) come along. I’m thinking they’ll both be ok…
Kerry Culchie (Fernandinho has the ‘break up play’ foul so ingrained he should never be allowed play centre back or he’ll give away lots of penalties. What’s that? 2 penalties given away in 3 games as a centre back?)


Is Degsy a millionaire?
Cheeky Punt this week has combined odds of over 98,000/1, as someone who is paid to give his “expert” advice, does Degsy back his own judgement with a tenner acca?

Get them all right this week and F365’s looking for a new columnist.
Howard (defo worth a £1) Jones

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