In the last 12 months the club has been rebuilt from 7th place embarrassing failures to reclaiming a seat at the top of domestic and European tables. With around 25% of the season gone Manchester United are in the midst of a title challenge, and are one win away from a place in the top 16 of Europe. The team has seen an overturn of players greater than at any point in its recent history with north of 25 players exiting and being replaced by exciting, and in the majority, young players from both the academy and other clubs. All of this has been directed and overseen by one man, Louis van Gaal.
There is however a powerful and negative undercurrent surrounding United at the moment. A team that had scored 3 goals in half of their previous 8 fixtures were about to embark upon their most difficult run of fixtures of the season. The knives were out and being sharpened. It was the perfect opportunity to push an agenda that helps everyone but those who truly love Manchester United. Arsenal away, Everton away, CSKA away, City home, an unwelcome and meaningless cup tie vs Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace away, and CSKA at home. October was the month that dark forces would have liked to have seen United fall out of Europe and out of the title race. Neither happened.
What did happen is that United got a solid home draw at home to high flying Manchester City, having dominated the game from start to end; they lost in the Capital One Cup, which in years gone by nobody would have given three-eighths of a shit about; and they got a draw away from home against a very good Crystal Palace team. Rather than being celebrated for still being in a great position going into a run of very winnable games, Louis van Gaal was beset upon at all sides by a media frenzy led by an ex United legend. The man in question quite obviously being Paul Scholes.
Every Manchester United fan will tell you that the quality of attacking display during that difficult month was not great, but it is not uncommon for even the best teams to have spells where things don’t quite click. The sign of a champion we are told time and time again is the team which manages to get results despite that. Nowhere in the media was this celebrated in the way that it was celebrated week after week last season when Chelsea escaped village after village with 1-0 wins on the way to the title. Nowhere in the media has the resilience of this team been lauded, in the way that VERY DULL United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson were lauded for fighting back after deficits to get points out of seemingly lost games. This resilience was instilled to the players by the former great manager we were told… but not by this one?
We are told time and time again about the great United tradition of having an academy graduate in every single match day squad since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. But before the season even started there were bets being made that this long tradition would end this season under Louis van Gaal. Where Sir Alex has a great reputation for bringing through academy graduates into the first team, people overlook the fact that in his final years he was extremely fearful of doing so. It is because of his preference to play a winger and a right back in a home Premier League fixture against a team that would eventually be relegated that we lost a title and a world class player in Paul Pogba. Louis van Gaal however has not got one single iota of credit from a former academy graduate Paul Scholes (who incidentally is the player who came out of retirement to cause Pogba to finally leave for Juventus) for consistently taking players from the academy and handing them debuts or putting them in match day squads when an injury crisis hits a unit of his first team. Does anyone actually believe that Sir Alex in his final years would have had the guts to put Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on the pitch at 1-0 in an important league fixture?
What Mr. Scholes doesn’t understand is that he is being used by an ABU, London-centric media, and because he isn’t the most eloquent of individuals he manages to do more harm than good. It is in this area that he differs from Gary Neville, who whilst I believe could also speak less when it comes to United, has been credited for his analytical skills. Paul Scholes’ heart may be in the right place, but his mouth and his brain do not cooperate with each other very well. He might only wish to express that he like any other fan wants to see the team he loves do well, but the language he uses is so primitive that what might seem to him like a geeing up, is in actual fact nothing but dry, aggressive criticism.
Fans of Scholes point out that he loves the club more than anyone, but at the end of the day he is not part of the immediacy of the club anymore. He has his personal ventures on BT Sport, weekly newspaper columns, the ownership of other football clubs, hotels and restaurants; he is not a current daily member of Manchester United. He does however hold a huge deal of clout on public opinion about the club. He is one of the greatest players in the history of the club and indeed the sport in general, he is a legend, and it is for this precise reason that he must take greater care than any other pundit. More care than Neville, more care than Keane, more care than Yorke, Schmeichel, and even Ferdinand. The adage ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is just as relevant here as it is to Spiderman. Paul Scholes has power to sway opinion on United more than any other pundit, and to be so negative and put so much pressure on the current manager, week after week, is a gross negligence of his responsibilities to the club he supposedly loves.
I noted before that maybe it’s his lack of intelligence and eloquence which is the cause for such persistent negativity, but that can only be an excuse for so long. It has now been on his agenda for months and it can no longer be put down to accident. He has people around him and no doubt they have had a word, even Louis van Gaal has hit back at him, but the personal criticism keeps coming, so one can only conclude that he has an agenda to have the fans and club turn on the manager… or that he has found a very easy way to make money. Either way, from the rumblings on social media recently and the ever increasing coverage he is getting it seems to be working.
By behaving like this Paul Scholes is attempting to sabotage something he loves, just to fulfil a personal ambition of putting some more pounds in his bank account and that is why a comparison with a two bit whore is not so outlandish. It is time we as fans finally listen to our former legendary manager Sir Alex and do our job as he set it out, and back our manager… I mean, he’s actually doing alright!
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