“He scores goals, galore, He scores goals! Paul Scholes – he scores goals“…, goes the famous chant, but ironically it doesn’t do any justice to the ginger wizards‘ talent. Paul Scholes does a lot more than just score goals, but let’s not get in the way of a good chant. Some players take the game to a level which makes it look beautiful and ridiculously easy – Scholes takes it even higher. However, the little man is undoubtedly in his twilight, the swansong is near and as melancholic as it may sound, United, as a club must find a solution. Devils around the world demand a marquee signing to replace our midfield maestro, but can an irreplaceable ever be replaced?
Scholes – Last of his kind
From journalists around the world to a match-going-fan, each one has a ‘signing’ in mind to fill the little man’s big shoes. Some see shades of Scholes in Luka Modric, some argue over Wesley Sneijder. Opinions, as it is said, are like belly buttons – to each his own. But Man Utd as a club have seldom gone by popular opinion, not that they should. Many a legend have hung their boots in the past as well, and United have survived and managed to go on.
1) Eric Cantona: Probably the greatest United legend of the modern era, he unceremoniously called it a day in an emotional press conference. Obituaries rolled off the press, as the heartbeat of the great United team of the 90’s would no longer shepherd the Red Army. Sir Alex signed Teddy Sheringham despite the clamor for a world renowned star. After rebuilding the team for a year, the manager delivered the most historic moment in the club’s illustrious history- “THE TREBLE”. Sheringham won the PFA player of the year award couple of seasons later while the club won 3 successive league titles. Eric the King was replaced, although not in stature, but effectively to a certain extent.
His kingdom kept growing even after him
2) David Beckham: The golden boy of Old Trafford, the prodigal son, the face of Manchester United. David Beckham was more than just a great football player for the Devils. He brought in crowds, fans from every nook and corner of the globe and it didn’t do any harm that he was brilliant on the field too. Beckham however became a distraction which Ferguson decided to do away with. Ronaldinho was supposedly on his way, but all the Old Trafford faithful got was a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. That boy Ronaldo, however, was more than a one trick pony, as some thought he would be. CR7 replaced Beckham in all aspects of the game off it and most certainly on it. The first ever United player to win the FIFA player of the year, Ronaldo was as good as they come. They said he couldn’t bend it like Beckham, but he never needed to, as he curled and swirled it like Cristiano. He was so good that he had to admit “ I am the first, second and third best player in the world”. Beckham would always be a hero, but Ronaldo made United fans think of possibilities beyond “Golden balls”.
3) Roy Keane: Inspiration is the middle name of Roy Keane. Iron willed, gritty and determined are some of the synonyms that best exemplify Keano. He was just the man you would want on your side when you are in the middle of a parking lot brawl. His falling out with Sir Alex in the summer of ’06 left a gap seemingly too gigantic to replenish. Gattuso, among others, was mentioned as a likely candidate as the public saw the obvious like for like solution. Michael Carrick was brought in as a replacement from Tottenham. It was said Fergie brought “a Pirlo when a Gattuso was the need of the hour”. The team adjusted their playing philosophy and the detractors were given a dose of humble pie as Carrick and United capped off a stunning league season with the Premier league title. United then recreated history with a Champions League and a League double. The chant says “There’s only one Roy Keane”, but who’s to say a Carrick won’t be enough?
Some players leave such a mark that their impending absence haunts fans; however, clones do not exist in the world of football. The obvious is not always the best solution. Paul Scholes is a player so dear to United fans, that his imminent departure gives unbearable heartaches and sleepless nights.His continuous brilliance over the course of a decade and a half has figuratively spoilt United fans.
Essentially a Center midfield player has roles defined to suit his skill set – deep lying play maker, box to box, out and out attacking midfield player. The little ginger man has carried each of those roles with aplomb during one time or the other in his distinguished career. So in this era of specialisation when his replacement is being talked about there aren’t many modern day footballers that come to mind. Consequentially Fergie must decide which role the team needs most. United have traditionally favoured a 4-4-2, but with the absence of a specialist defensive midfielder the addition of an attacking center- mid looks unlikely. However if Sir Alex is contemplating a switch to highly favoured formation in Europe these days, a la 4-2-3-1, then possibilities of a mouth watering attack minded signing does materialize.
The solution, not the replica, is out there playing football in some corner of the world to the best of his own abilities. All that can be said for now is “Fergie, sign him up!”.