Is Scholes really the right man to help Manchester United keep pace?


The news that Paul Scholes has extended his contract at Manchester United has been met by a mixed reception from fans of the club. He has had another fantastic season, without doubt, but is he really the answer to United’s midfield problems, or is Ferguson merely papering over the cracks once again?

United were off-the-pace until January this year and it is undeniable that the shock return of their ginger-haired hero had a huge positive impact on the second half of their season. His pass completion for the season ended up just short of 92%, a record that eclipses those of Yaya Toure, Mikel Arteta, Luka Modric  and Frank Lampard. He also contributed four goals and, perhaps more importantly, gave Ferguson’s side the regular stability in the centre of midfield that just wasn’t apparent with any combination of Carrick/Cleverley/Giggs/Anderson.

Yet, despite all of this, United have still finished the season without a notable piece of silverware to their name, something that the fans are not going to put up with year-on-year. Scholes’ performances may have been more than impressive for a man of 37 years of age, but is it good enough for a club competing at the very highest level? It is easy for fans of Manchester United to be blinded by their affection for the ex-England star, but many are beginning to realise that something more drastic needs to be done in this area of their team.

Many creative players have been linked with the club – Gaitan, Sneijder, Modric, Schweinsteiger and Dembele to name but a few. There may be different styles of footballer in that list, but to a degree, they are all from the same mould; they are creative and they are dynamic, and this is what United need. Yaya Toure and David Silva have both had huge impacts for rivals Manchester City in the league this year, making the gulf all the more apparent. It is this kind of player that United could begin to rebuild around – the traditional “first name on the teamsheet”, somebody who will score goals and create them.

So what is it that is holding Ferguson back from making the purchase that his team so clearly needs? He obviously has faith in Scholes’ ability, and rightly so, but he knows as well as anybody that it can’t be a long-term solution. This was apparent when he came so close to landing Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder last summer. Scholes was a quick-fix when the Sneijder deal fell through, and surely nothing has changed. Perhaps the manager is genuinely restricted in his spending, but it is hard to believe after the significant signings of Jones and Young in 2011. There is also a chance that stubbornness from Sir Alex himself may play a factor. He has spoken before about a lack of value in the transfer market and seems reluctant to part with any large sum of money, particularly for older, proven players.

Now is the time though, for United to take the leap and buy big. If they are to keep up in the title race next season, they have no option. It is what their fans will want to see and – I’m sure – many neutrals as well, before the blue half of Manchester’s dominance becomes a reality.


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