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Paul Scholes: Manchester United midfielder grossly overrated

The Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes debate. Now chocked-full of revisionism since Stevie G finally hung up his boots, there’s no doubt that all three of them were good players. However, there seems to be a common misconception, shrouded by pages of source-less quotes and hours of ‘passing compilations’, that depict Scholes not only part of the debate but at the top. Fair to say I disagree

Let’s start with the argument: “Look at all these top players that rate him, he must be good!”. I figure this is a good place to begin as it makes up the majority of social media debates. It’s true, Xavi praised Scholes heavily in a 2011 article with The Guardian, but he also admitted he’s a bit of a Manchester United fan. A slight bias perhaps? And one man’s opinion can’t be final on something like this.

The Manchester United midfielder – Debunking myths

23,000 football players is a better case study. The FIFA World XI. How many times was Paul Scholes voted into this? None. Lampard was in there once and Gerrard had the pleasure of featuring three times. For me, this is huge. The eleven time Premier League winner wasn’t seen on the same level as the other two then, so why now? To further this, we look at the highly-esteemed Ballon d’Or. Lampard came second in 2005, Gerrard third. Scholes was nowhere near (Don’t forget he hit that tree once, though!).

More poignantly, we look at actual football and, more specifically, Sir Alex Ferguson. Juan Sebastián Verón was voted in the top fifty all time worst transfers in Premier League history. Sir Alex saw him as a better player and forced Scholes in-behind Ruud van Nistelrooy. Originally an attacking-midfielder, the ‘renowned’ deep-lying playmaker couldn’t even make the side in his preferred position. Manchester United ended up finishing third and the ‘passing maestro’ had five assists. Dire.

Paul Scholes in action for Manchester United

Furthermore, in the 2009 Champions League final against Barcelona, we saw one of the greatest managers of all time bench Paul Scholes. You can’t make a case for your favourite midfielder when he is on the touchline and Anderson and Ji-Sung Park are on the pitch instead. A short point but still very relevant.

Scholes’ involvement in United’s success was far from tangible. He was never regarded as the key player in their title victories. That’s okay, though. Players can be crucial to their team without statistical backing. But these egregious claims that Paul Scholes is one of the greatest midfielders ever HAS TO STOP. What’s worse is that they put it down to his passing…

Paul Scholes – A Luxury Player?

Technically, Scholes was a very good player. His range of passing was remarkable and there is such thing as the pass to assist. But an intriguing question: If, for example, you placed Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes at say Notts County, who would have the most impact? Gerrard would potentially be first thanks to his all around abilities – he completed more tackles, interceptions and duels won than the other two. Not to mention how he dragged a Liverpool side to the Champions League.

Steven Gerrard in the Champions League final vs AC Milan

That makes Lampard second with his relentless goal scoring ability and Scholes the pass master third. Long ball fanatics would soon realise that the recipient is more important than the player of the ball. It’s all fun and games clipping the ball to some of the best one versus one wingers in the world (Harry Arter could do that). But when it’s Sean Shields, maybe it wasn’t the right decision.

The point is that Scholes’ fantastic long balls make no sense if it isn’t Ryan Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo on the end of them. He relied heavily on the quality of others at Manchester United. Not a terrible thing to play to the team’s strengths, but he didn’t have the ability to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.


For the record, I think Liverpool fans comparing Jordan Henderson to the coveted Manchester United midfielder is a little too much for now. Overall, Paul Scholes lacked significant physical attributes (Pace & Strength). He was defensively incompetent. To have him anywhere near Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard is a downright crime.

Now, it seems like the trio’s managerial careers are following suit too. Gerrard is currently trying to break the Celtic monopoly in Scottish football. Whilst Lampard has Chelsea in 4th place where he was expected to struggle. Meanwhile, Scholes managed Oldham to one win in seven games. He ended up resigning – jumped before he was pushed. Quitting because he couldn’t hack it. Sounds familiar. Don’t get me wrong, this is an article on their playing careers, but thought I’d include this. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were levels above on the pitch, and now off it too.

If you disagree that’s fine. Let’s have a debate in the comments. There is no need for unsolicited abuse. Thanks for reading!

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16 comments on “Paul Scholes: Manchester United midfielder grossly overrated

  1. You must be a scouser!

  2. Liverpool have gone from strength to strength since gerard quit. He will always be the best player to never win the league I’ll admit.

    • Kindalemfidel

      Who the idiot is comparing the kick and rush players (gerrard and lampard) to the only specially gifted english midfield player

  3. William Foley

    What a load of b******. Scholars was miles better than Lampard and Gerrard. Especially Gerrard, who never won a league, and was not even a midfielder. He cheated his way to s Champions League medal in 2005.

  4. Interesting read. However:
    Scholes’ ability in the latter stages of his career to control the tempo of a game was a massive attribute that gerrard and lampard never possessed.
    The argument I often hear is “well Scholes got moved wide left to accomodate Gerrard and Lampard for England” – what they forget is that gerrard got the same treatment to accomodate barry in WC2010, and Mascherano at Liverpool for a spell – so movement of position is rendered irrelevant in this debate.
    As for Xavi’s praise, well you challenged one player who has a United bias – but what about Zidane, Henry etc?
    All 3 were legends for their respective clubs, but many people forget what Scholes was capable of because he achieved so much before Lampard and Gerrard were even centre stage. Take a look a some of his games between 96 – 07, his movement, vision to switch the play, and eye to drag teammates (and opponents) in and out of the game go above mere statistics.

  5. Scholes came back from retirement and won the EPL…. Enough said

  6. please Mr man do you know anything about football if you do then you have to watch scholes very well and know his ability is a very good player with vision and creativity, will say about bosquet of Barcelona you can never see his ability unless is not there that you will know, lampard has the ability to score but not good in passes, every club has his own tradition and Paul scholes is sweet table for man united pattern, with the likes of Rany Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo wany Ronny and so on you can not see his best because he made them to be the best, tell how many trophy’s has Gerard and lampard give to their team, and how many has both of them joined together and give to country even with the likes of Ronny and co

  7. So what made Gerard not win the league more than 20 years with Liverpool?, even Leicester did it with more average players?

  8. Ghandi Rubberneck

    Scholes was the professor of the midfield, the other 2 were just athletes in footy boots.

    • Lampard No 3 on a time epl assists behind Giggs and Fabregas. He scored and assisted morethan Scholes. He was better and created histories with Chelsea.

  9. Just love how liverpool fans and pundits are starting to disregard everything manchester united right now

  10. Gerrard and Lampard dont even come close.
    Scholes was better than both of them put together and has the trophy cabinet to prove it.
    Scholes simply made the team better.
    He could pass better than either of them by MILES.
    ANd passing is the most important metric of a midfielder.
    Gerrard was someone that Liverpool fans blew up to being way more than he was during a time that they where poor as a club.
    Reality was he was poor under pressure and always failed due to his mental weakness.
    BEsides the one fluke bradbury he pulled in the champions league coming from behind his career was b-tec.
    Lampard was far better than Gerrard as well..actually Roy Keane was better than Gerrard.
    I wouldnt even put Gerrard in the best ten midfielders in the prem. Viera was far better as well.
    I could go on but Im done embarrasing the author I feel like Im being cruel to a dumb animal.

  11. Paul Scholes accolades were sang by many football greats…Xavi, Zidane, Henry, Pirlo, Pele, Socrates, Tevez, Lippi, Edgar Davids etc. Kindly read/research what these world class authorities of the game had to say about him. Only then will you realize that your article was largely inaccurate, with the intentions of soliciting comments from the football public.

  12. Pingback: Dean Henderson: New Manchester United and England number one?

  13. Pingback: Which Manchester United players should make the Hall of Fame?

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