Paul Scholes appears on Sky Sports
Paul Scholes, who retired last summer along with Sir Alex Ferguson, was a surprise choice of Sky Sports pundit for the match at Old Trafford last night as the notoriously shy former midfielder made the rarest of appearances in front of the TV cameras.
Scholes was famous for being camera shy during his playing career, rarely giving interviews and, when he did, looking extremely uncomfortable in the media glare as he kept his opinions to himself and made minimal noise.
However, following in the footsteps of former team-mate Gary Neville – now regarded as the best football pundit going – Scholes made a big impression on Sky as he let loose on the failings of his former club, and old rivals Arsenal.
Scholes limbered up with a precise dissection of the problems affecting David Moyes at Manchester United, although he stopped short of saying the club should sack the man they trusted to replace Sir Alex Ferguson.
“It is difficult for a new manager coming in because he needs time to get to know his players,” Scholes said on Sky Sports. "He doesn't know his best team yet and the players haven't helped him because they're not performing the way they should.”
Before the game kicked off, the club’s big summer signing Marouane Fellaini also fell under Scholes’ gaze – and what better person to appraise a Manchester United midfielder?
"He's not been great, has he? You have to admit that," Scholes said. "He did have problems with his wrist and I know he missed a lot of games but, for the money they paid for him, I'd be expecting a lot more, to be honest with you. I'd be expecting a few goals, at least. For a central midfielder at Manchester United for £27m, I'm expecting a few goals."
However, it was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Arsenal who felt the lash of Scholes’ sharp tongue more than most. As news filtered through to the Sky Sports studio that they had conceded an injury-time own goal to draw with Swansea – damaging their title bid irreparably – Scholes savaged the club he once battled with at the very top of the game.
All too often second-rate pundits sit on the fence and shun pointed criticism as they deal in platitudes, so it is worth revisiting Scholes’ comments in full. You can watch the video on the Sky Sports website here.
"It’s been a typical week for Arsenal, really,” he said. “They capitulated at Chelsea and it seems to be a similar theme which happens when they play the top teams. It happened at Liverpool, they conceded six against City. For one reason or another, the players just seem to go missing. The Artetas, the Cazorlas, the Rosickys, Ozils although I know he has not played for a bit.
"It seems like they go on the pitch with no discipline. It's as though, 'you four, five midfielders go out there and do what you want - try and score a goal. A few nice one-twos, nice tippy tappy football - but don't bother running back'. That is my thoughts on it.
"I don't know if it is the manager - it just seems that way. Midfield players with no discipline. There are no leaders. No Patrick Vieira, no Adams, or Martin Keown. They need sometimes need a midfielder who say 'look, come beside me for five or 10 minutes and let's stop the flow of attacks.'
“These lot go 2-0 down and carry on what they are doing. They have a walk up front or lose the ball. Play a nice little one-two but they don't bother sprinting back. You wonder why they are in the position you are in. You feel sorry for Arsenal fans. They get the same thing every year. The hint of a title for a few weeks then they go to Chelsea, City or Liverpool and they just do nothing.
"Fans expect Arsenal to go for a League trophy. They are third or fourth but are a million miles away, in my eyes. When we played against Arsenal teams it was really tough. Now, you play Arsenal and just get stuck in and you have won the game.
“Wilshere, what a really top young player, but he has not really gone on. He needs players like Vieira to take him to the next level. Injuries have not helped him but his development, from being 17, he does not look any better player now than when he was 17."
With Roy Keane’s frightful stare and brutal opinions now a permanent fixture on ITV, and Neville continuing to set standards on Sky, can we expect Scholes to become a more regular presence on our screens?
Certainly it's a string to his bow that most of us never thought he possessed. And perhaps the man feted by many contemporaries as the greatest player of his generation could have a similarly successful career on screen.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Paul Scholes
- Sky Sports
- Gary Neville
- Sir Alex Ferguson