Scholes floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee
“He passed them to death all day” – Gary Neville
On behalf of all United fans across the globe, Gary Neville understandably gave Paul Scholes an absolute smacker after his masterclass at Eastlands. It was proof, if any were needed, that Scholes can still provide the goods and that age is just a number. Sixteen years on, he is still the player who can single-handedly win games.
He was by far the best player on the pitch in a game where, Gary Neville says, ‘he had passed them to death’. Indeed. It wasn’t just that, though; he was excellent both defensively and as a creative force, pulling the strings from the midfield. He was the stand out performer throughout, and his reward for an exceptional game was a lovely goal. The goal itself was beautiful; a timely run into the box and a lovely floated cross by Nani finished off with an unstoppable header.
There’s life in this old dog yet. No cliché is more fitting for a player who’s ageing legs are no barrier. Praise must go to Sir Alex, too, for keeping faith in the last torch carriers of an iconic generation for a big game like this. I’ve talked about the new era in the blog before, but for the time being, as long as the likes of Scholes and Neville are playing like this, then that could be put on hold for a while. They’re not as consistent as once before but their contribution to the side cannot be taken for granted.
More praise must be heaped on Sir Alex for his nous in the dying moments of the game. “I was prepared to put him forward a little bit, knowing that there’s no-one better at ghosting into the penalty box and getting into the good positions. There was no-one near him. It was a free header and he took it very well.” Fergie also described his performance as ‘fantastic’ but that’s just an understatement. In a poor game, Scholes looked like the only player who wanted to win it. He demonstrated passion, drive and determination in this all-important derby gave that may mean more than just pride.
Come May, United could be toasting another Premier League title. That, without a doubt, would finally put rest the argument that Liverpool are the most successful team in the country. Chelsea need to slip up again, and they may well do. Against the team that would hate the sound of Manchester United winning their 19th league crown. If that were to happen, then there’s a certain Paul Scholes to thank. Something tells me there will be more one year contract extensions to come.