Date:Friday April 16 2010
Paul Scholes has extended his Manchester United contract for another year. This, in itself, is great news: he will leave a huge void once he decides to hang up his boots, the little ginger. He's a legend, an iconic figure, a home-grown hero and in his prime a genuinely great player.
However, now age has imposed its restrictions upon him and he can no longer be regarded as a key player at Manchester United. Fergie had talked about gently phasing him out but Scholes played as many games this season as in the previous two campaigns because of lack of options in midfield.
But the problem is what his extension signifies. Sir Alex Ferguson has recently declared that the reason for not including Hargreaves is that we have plenty of options in midfield and talked about the amazing progress of Darron Gibson who is essentially a very limited player, though certainly prolific for a midfielder.
This and Scholes' extension suggests that Fergie also believes what many media experts and fans often say, namely, that United's biggest problem is a lack of firepower up front, more specifically, a capable partner/understudy to Wayne Rooney. This is not true.
United's biggest problem is central midfield because Anderson might come good but we can never be sure and beyond him we do not have enough creativity. Scholes and Giggs are not good enough to be counted on as key players, their mobility is restricted, their stamina is insufficient. We need a quick, skilful creative central midfielder who is capable of supporting the lone striker and the wide attackers. Carrick is a deep-lying player, just as Fletcher and Hargreaves while Anderson may never grow out his habit of carelessly squandering possession way too often.
I hope I'm wrong and Fergie sees Scholes only as an emergency option but his comments suggest otherwise. And that must be a concern because the importance of a new striker is dwarfed by the importance of getting a quality central midfielder.
Date:Friday April 16 2010
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