It’s that time of the year where we decide our player of the season, here at Red Flag Flying High, our various writers have different opinions on who deserves the accolade of ‘United’s Player of the Season.’ Here’s Jay’s view on why it should be the greatest player many of us have ever seen play. Whether you agree or not you can cast your vote at the poll at the foot of this article.
He plays, United win. It really is that simple. Paul Scholes hasn’t just helped United’s title race, he’s single-handedly kick started it into action and is the main reason the Reds currently sit at the top of the Premier League.
Yes Michael Carrick, Jonny Evans, Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia have been magnificent but have they really dominated game after game? Have they lifted the entire team, fans and club just by walking onto the pitch? People will argue that because Scholes has only played since January he can’t be considered for player of the season? Well let me ask you this, if Scholes had played a full season and been merely steady- Carrick, or reliable- Evans- or perhaps just done his job satisfactorily- Rooney-awesome most of the time, but occasionally quiet -Valencia- would United be top of the league now? No. It took the return of Scholes to elevate the team above our derby rivals and remind the other players what a true legend plays like.
Every game United have lost since Scholes has returned has been because of his absence- it really is that simple. Think I’m exaggerating, look at the FA Cup against Liverpool at Anfield. United in control-well Scholes in control, he comes off after 75 mins, a quarter of an hour later, we’re no longer in the competition. The Europa League, Scholes was a barely used sub- United get knocked out, United are 3-1 down at Stamford Bridge, after 21 minutes of the Ginger One being on the pitch the score’s level. In the Premier League, nine starts have yielded nine wins for Scholes, that’s no coincidence, the man is simply far and away the best player United have and easily the most gifted footballer in the league.
I’m not talking about his past glories, if I was then Ryan Giggs would be up there but he isn’t. Scholes has returned to the United side, in THE best form of his career. Sounds crazy? Well allow me to elucidate as someone who watched Scholes from his early games in the mid-nineties to his latest one, I genuinely believe he’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen him. He’s not putting a pass wrong, he’s controlling each game, upping the tempo when needed, slowing it down when that’s what’s required, starting attacks, scoring important goals and dare I say even committing the odd clean tackle.
Stats? You want stats? Okay twinkle I’ll give you some f*cking stats, United played Wigan without Scholes, they lost. Michael Carrick played the most passes of any United player in the DW and it was still practically only half as much as the Ginger One had attempted against QPR (62 successful out of 67 attempted vs 114 successful out of 120 attempted). Scholes’s overall pass completion since his return has been phenomenal as Fox Sports point out: Quantifying the scale of Scholes’s influence is difficult, but Opta stats show that there has been a marked improvement in United’s ability to control matches since his return. For instance, their pass completion rate has risen from sixth to first in the Premier League and their average possession has gone up from 55.7% to 61.3%.
Here’s another stat for you, Scholes has scored more goals than Carrick in less than half the games, has a better goal scoring ratio than Danny Welbeck, Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs when it comes to the games they’ve started. Oh and that midfield duo that set the Premiership alight in the first couple of months, Anderson and Tom Cleverley couldn’t muster as many goals between them as Scholes has managed.
If it was simply about goals though, I wouldn’t have even bothered writing this – after all he only has three- and certainly wouldn’t be trying to convince you to vote Scholes as player of the year, it’s much more than that. If United do prevail and end up winning the league, which I believe we will, then Scholes will be the single most influential reason behind that. Leagues aren’t won and lost in August or even December they’re won and lost in March and April that’s when you separate the men from the boys, the great players from the good ones and the legends from the mere mortals. United have one legend currently dominating each game as he has done for much of his career, he may not have the speed of a Valencia, the amount of games under his belt this season of a Carrick or the goals of a Rooney but he’s been the most consistent, influential and awe-inspiring player we’ve seen at our club this season and for that reason, he gets my vote.
My player of the season. Paul Scholes. Genius. Winner. Legend.