Date: 11th November 2012 at 11:45pm
Written by:
Remember when we used to win that trophy?

Remember when we used to win that trophy?

A statue of Sir Alex Ferguson is set to be unveiled later this month outside Old Trafford, commemorating the unparalleled achievements of his time at the club. Rumours it will be furiously chewing and pointing at its watch remain unconfirmed.

It is a fitting tribute, and a fine testament to his managerial prowess. We may never see his like again. Referees certainly hope so. Maybe a few rival managers share the sentiment. But Ferguson, for all of his focus, energy and ability, has always maintained the same mantra throughout his tenure. It’s about the players. You can’t win anything without good players.

In particular, consider Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

People will argue long and hard about Ferguson’s most important men on the field. David Beckham may bridle at his exclusion from that list. Roy Keane might kick a small cat across the room. Eric Cantona would most probably shrug and have another cigar. Steve Bruce will be too busy wondering how the hell he ended up in Hull to even care.

Everyone will have their favourites. That’s football. Naturally, so does Ferguson, and few will argue that those three players have played a crucial role in his success. He once suggested he hopes he leaves the club before they do, saying it was hard to imagine being there without them.

Of course, Gary Neville ultimately discovered his legs could no longer run and his body could barely move, certainly not to the exacting speed demanded by top flight football. After one particularly harrowing afternoon at West Brom when he appeared to have invented super slow-motion even before Sky possessed the technology, he waited until he got his breath back and then immediately quit the game. It was only a surprise to anyone who didn’t know him. He knew it was time. If only all footballers shared his level of self-awareness. I’m looking at you John Terry.

One down, two to go. Fergie’s triumvirate had abruptly lost a leg, and his remaining double act was soon to slip off the bill too, when Paul Scholes – another player who must have been off sick that day when they handed round the oversized egos sometime around 1996 – called it a day, citing, amongst other reasons, a desire to spend more time with his family. Like many things in life, that would have left a puzzled Mario Balotelli scratching his head.

Incredibly, Scholes returned. Six months later and without fanfare, he was back, stroking a ball around the pitch to surprised team-mates, with all the fuss of a boy having a kick-about before tea. Though Scholes expressed at a later date how much he had missed the everyday life of a footballer and asked to come back, Ferguson had snapped up the opportunity with all the eagerness with which you and I would snap up Roman Abramovich’s wallet.

Scholes played well last season. He was a huge asset and without him it is likely we would have been more than just an Aguero away from winning the league. The summer, though, provided ample time for reflection. Maybe it was time to be bold. Maybe the presence (and wages) of Scholes and Giggs prevented the midfield additions that could elevate United to a level where they could compete more evenly in the higher echelons of the Champions League. However, if it was a thought for Ferguson, it was a fleeting one.

Both Scholes and Giggs have played their part this season and it would be foolish to suggest they can no longer contribute. Even discounting their legendary status, they can, crucially, offer something on the pitch. But was it Ferguson’s reluctance in the summer to view them in more minor roles that prevented him forcefully chasing new leading men? Was it the much-touted “no value in the market” line that prevented the pursuit of a new midfield driving force – Schweinsteiger, Modric et al – or was it the idealised notion Giggs and Scholes are “still good enough”?

We can only speculate, and maybe now I should point out that Paul Scholes is my favourite footballer of all time. But all good things must come to an end. Even great things. We have to trust Ferguson’s affection for his two footballing sons doesn’t create a blind spot and it is him, rather then them, that dictates the timing of their departure. I hope so. Because I love Paul Scholes. I love Ryan Giggs. But I love Manchester United more.

Follow me on twitter for more Red views @JonWilmot44


8 responses to “The Toughest Decision Sir Alex May Ever Face”

  1. mega amazing man says:

    Scholes was a bit poor on Saturday and Giggs doesn’t look like he’ll be used too frequently anymore…

    Love them both and agree they still have something to offer although I would rather the opportunities when we can rest carrick/clev/ando were given to the promising youth coming through rather than the legends…

  2. Essigreb says:

    They should quit. I dont think its even a litte bit difficult

  3. NathonW says:

    This is a strange situation as some weeks they do get us out of trouble – yet other weeks they really look their age.

    I agree sentiment shouldn’t be a reason to keep them around.

    As it stands, I think they are doing a good job, not slowing us down…… however in a years time, who knows!

    • karan says:

      they cant stay forever….i mean fergie is just prolonging the inevitable…might as well pull the bandaid off quickly …they give ur self a slow death by ripping it off slowly….i mean whne scholes goes…they will know that …hes nowhere to be found which might push players like cleverley and ando into a bit of action…might give further players like daelhi, petrucci, tunnicliffe, powell, a glimmerof hope of first team football…plus with giggs gone….id finally see cole come into the picture..!!!!

      • NathonW says:

        But look at our game at Anfield this season. We were over-run in midfield until Scholes came on. He controlled the game and set the tempo. He hardly gave the ball away.

        I agree we have talent coming through, but I don’t think they should be moved on due to their age. I think both Scholes and Giggs can still cut it at this level.

  4. eltricolor2014 says:

    Scholes was okay against A. Villa, the overheard pass to Chicharito was from Scholes and it was inch perfect. There was a little bit of rust from having sat out 4-5 games? But he’s still valuable. That said, I would not be surprised that if United win the title, he will retire on those merits.

  5. trevor says:

    I agree with most, Fergie should have got rid of them last season and with the money bought a midfielder/defender with the money they would be saving He then could have played against Everton and Spurs. Then we might have won.
    On Sat, Scholes went missing in the middle and Villa forwards were running riot down the middle forcing the full backs to come in to cover for him leaving the wings wide open where they caused the damage. Please Fergie dont start them again.

  6. Mohamed says:

    (Maybe the presence (and wages) of Scholes and Giggs prevented the midfield additions)

    I don’t think the combined wage of those 2 would buy u a loaf of bread. They are in it for the football. I’m sure their old wages were cut down considerably, especially with the policy of giving a 1 year rolling contract to that age group. But I get ur point that their mere presence prevents the likes of Snijder to sign for us.