Lying deep and free, Scholes will play an important part this season
Zinedine Zidane once described Paul Scholes as “undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation”. A fine compliment indeed for a player who has seen it all, and done it all. Having mustered 643 appearances in his Manchester United career so far, it is no wonder Paul Scholes is regarded as highly as he is. And as far as deep-lying playmakers go, Scholes is one of the best to grace the modern game.
Quietly and sensibly, Scholes gets on about his work. There are very few who can spread and dictate play from a withdrawn position as effectively as Scholes, and with as much success. Much is spoken of his tackling ability, or the lack of it, but the role of deep-lying playmaker is not primarily the defensive duties, rather the main function of the role being able to create from the deep position.
An essential attribute is vision and creativity in passes, meaning spotting openings and creating chances. This role is made to look easy by Scholes, and such is the perfection in manner in which he executes this, that he is sure to play an important part this coming season. He’s been doing this for a while now, but it was last season where he exhibited the fine artistry of creating from this deeper position. That is enough reason to feel excited as the new season draws near, with Rooney and new signing Javier Hernandez particularly expected to thrive from this.
Indeed, the success of the previous campaign is summed up well by statistics. According to OPTA, of Scholes’s 1,497 passes last season, 89.58% reached their target. That made him the Premier League’s most accurate passer last season. Proof, in any were needed, that Scholes only means business when on the pitch. And his age shouldn’t come into question either, if at 34, he is statistically the best passer in the country, then any retirement plans should be shelved for the time being.
Certainly, there is no greater passer of the ball in the English game currently than Scholes and, showing little signs of ageing, he will surely continue to so in that Scholes-like manner this coming season. It is wise not to underestimate just how important Scholes’ is to the cause. If he’s on top of his game, expect Manchester United to be also.
Above is an example of a near-flawless display against Birmingham City on the opening day of last season. 100 passes. 97 successful. 3 unsuccessful. 97% completion rate. This diagram perfectly sums up what Scholes brings to the team, a faultless display with an array of quality and accurate passing. From Guardian Chalkboards