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Anderson Is No Paul Scholes

AndersonLast season, whenever Paul Scholes wasn’t on the field, we looked like a different team. He made all the difference in linking our midfield to our attack, spraying balls far and wide all over the park, landing perfectly at the intended player’s feet. There’s not a player in our squad who comes close to passing the ball around as accurately as Scholes, and he seems to do so with such ease.

When he was ruled out for several months last October, I was worried. Michael Carrick at that point had been our worst performing player and Owen Hargreaves had already suffered a couple of periods out of the team due to injuries. With Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea has cover, we weren’t exactly overwhelmed with classy options. However, we did have Anderson.

I don’t think anyone really anticipated that Anderson would fill the spot as effectively as he did. Let’s get real, he’s from Brazil and he’s a teenager. We’d be lucky to even get him to turn in to a half decent player over a period of years if our track record with South Americans is anything to go by! But he has come in to the first team and players with all the confidence and experience of someone who has been here for years.

He’s already a firm favourite with the Old Trafford crowd, following his hard working displays and commitment to getting the result. It was his name that was sung as the team walked off 3-0 up at half time against Arsenal, not Rooney or Ronaldo or any of our more long term established players.

I can’t remember a time when a new, young player has been adopted so quickly and eagerly by the Stretford End faithful. Reds are ranting and raving about him at the match and in their locals, talking about the player who has already been tipped by many as the future greatest in the World. He is a player I want in my starting lineup every week, who has proven that he can keep the likes of Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas in his back pocket. If he’s doing that in his first season in the Premiership, it is a mouth watering prospect as to what he will be achieving in the future.

Whilst doing a great job filling in for Scholes, the two players cannot really be compared in terms of what they bring to the team. Anderson is much fiercer in his approach to the game and is far more able when it comes to winning the ball. Anderson has yet to score for United, whereas Scholes is renowned as a scorer of great goals. Paul Scholes is one of the most talented players the Premiership has ever seen, but is there a chance of Anderson superceding him?

Alex Ferguson has today spoken of his great admiration for the Brazilian youngster, claiming that despite his differences from Scholes, he is a top quality player. “When Paul got his injury it was a blow for us and opened the door for Anderson – and we discovered a boy who had talent,” said Ferguson. “It may otherwise have turned out that Anderson would have had to wait, just getting the odd game here and there, which may not have helped him develop as we have seen. Anderson is not like Scholes entirely. He’s more of an aggressive, running player. He’s quicker than Scholes, more of the type to run forward from midfield with the ball, whereas Scholes will do it without the ball.”

Scholes or Anderson? Who do you think should be starting for United?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. ronnie says:

    i prefer anderson to start all games.Bring scholsey on as sub in second half once we’ve got on the score sheet.He is’nt as quick now so use him less.

  2. Sirsly3k says:

    I believe Anderson should be starting for now. Paul Scholes hasnt really gottten into the game.We have had trouble every game he has started.

  3. rkmagic says:

    I walked past a pub last night and viewed the upcoming fixtures for march – as is normal there was a montage of the “top” players – with Anderson centre stage, who’d have thought that after losing to coventry!

  4. denton davey says:

    I agree with ronnie and Sirsly3k – and disagree with Scott. The team has played faster, crisper attacking football with Anderson in the game; Scholes slows things down and – contrary to what Scott has written – he no longer much of a goal scorer. I think he would be better deployed as the link-man in an attacking diamond and not as a deep-lying midfielder. That said, Scholes has been a fantastic player for more than a decade but he is clearly struggling to fit in with the faster pace of the “whirligig” game played by Rooney, CR7, Carlitos, and Nani – which would be my starting attacking front four in every game for which they are fit from now until the end of the season. Behind them the engine seems to tick over most smoothly when Anderson is paired with either Carrick or Hargreaves because I think that Scholes gets in Anderson´s way. And, that’s not even considering Fletcher who has been very big in the big games. From Richardson and Smith to an embarrassment of riches ! WOWSER !!

  5. Spindle (ManU fan) says:

    Are you guys kidding? Did you see the performance that Scholes put in on his first game back against porthmouths – a joy to watch spraying balls all over the pitch, possibly the best Utd player on the the day. This says to me that he is still capable of pulling te strings at utd.
    You need to bed in new players. SAF will not put so much pressure on young shoulders. Anderson’s form is good – keep him hungry. I wouldn’t be talking about him taking over from Scholes until the enf of next season not this season!

  6. pet says:

    They are equally good though each has an advantage over the other, in case of a tough rough game Scholes should start and a good flowing game like facing Arsenal then Anderson can start, and I see no reason why they can not play together, actually either of the 2 can start we still win matches

  7. Anthony says:

    Please don’t write Scholes off yet he hasn’t even had chance to get back to full fitness after bad injuries.

  8. craig mc says:

    Anderson, Anderson, Anderson!. The COMBATANTS of United’s team WHO CAN PERFORM AWAY FROM HOME with the same effectiveness as they do in the home games are, Rooney, Tevez, Anderson, Vidic, Hargreaves and Evra. And I think Nani is beginning to edge out Giggs in the away performances. Still one man’s meat anothers poison etc. Anderson needs to add goals to his game obviously, because other parts of his game are terrific. He has rapid pace, can tackle far more effectively than Scholesy, can see a pass, and is a winner. Scholesy has slowed down, but his passing excels as someone already mentioned, and he will always be one of United’s greats. I think he might be in his last season or so though!. Wouldn’t like Fergie’s headache having to choose his midfield every week.

  9. Ian says:

    I’ll tell you one thing for certain. Anderson is far better than Scholes was at 19. Wasn’t Scholes one of the last of the “class of 92″ to be playing regularly? I’m sure the others all had more games than him in the early days. So, for my money, the future is bright for Anderson (and Man Utd).

  10. tom says:

    Personally i would use Anderson in the Premiership, where his pace and physical stature are a massive bonus, and needed in order to overwhelm the opposition as we tend to do. However Scholesy would be my first choice in Europe, anyone remember that ball he played for Rooney’s winner against Milan last year? Scholes offers experience, intelligence and that range of passing that Anderson doesnt have.

  11. Eddie says:

    Anderson, no doubt after what he has done this season!

  12. smarties says:

    The only thing that I feel anderson lacks is the calm head, mainly due to experience. Sometimes he seems to rush things or tries to play the hollywood pass often, but as I’ve said before, its down to experience.

    Who would have imagined it that now we are even talking about Anderson in the same breath as Scholes is a clear sign what a great player he is.

  13. Emmanuel says:

    prefer Anderson to scholesy to start any game, ahead of Paul Scholes. He Anderson moves attack forward than Paul Scholes.

  14. crispus mutabuuza says:


  15. Jas Rai says:

    Guys, lets not write off Scholes just yet, he’s been the best midfielder in the premiership (along with Keane) for the past decade, give Anderson more time, keep him hungry, and when the times right he can replace Scholes

  16. OMelhorDoMundo says:

    Never write off Scholes. As refreshing as it is to see a young Brazilian boy carry the ball half the field past defenders, we must always remember tthe importance of keeping possession. And no one does that better than Scholes. When he was absent, United did well but never kept the ball for long periods.
    That said, I do feel that Scholes is losing his attacking instincts; he will make the occasional run into the box but he prefers to lie deep and pass the ball around. He’s becoming too cautious because he’s obsessed with keeping the ball which was terrible against Tottenham. Watching Anderson and Nani come on for Scholes and Giggs and try things was really refreshing. As soon as he came on, Anderson put in a really good shot that Cerny saved. Nani was putting in crosses all the time and was linking up well with Ronaldo. That’s the future: daring young players. But for now, putting Anderson in direct competition with Scholes can only be good for both players.

    Anderson has a bigfuture for sure but let’s not say “he will be better than Scholes because Scholes wasn’t that good at his age.” Everyone develops at their own pace. Where was Cantona when he was 19?

  17. vik says:

    anderson is good. scholes is also good. but the only difference is anderson can play in the wing also whereas scholsy cant.

  18. Tom F says:

    When United announced the purchase of Anderson and Nani in a dawn raid last summer (wel maybe not a dawn raid, but it could have been!) I quickly did my research to see more of the 2 players. I contacted supporters of Sporting and Porto to see their views on losing one of their best players each.

    Everyone on Portos side were saying how sad they were and how “United fans really don’t know what they are getting” and until Anderson went on his run of games this season, I wouldn’t have expected such a young Brazilian playing so well at the heart of our midfield. His display against Arsenal at the Emirates wa outstanding and he has kicked on from there. I do view him as a long term replacement for Scholes (and Nani for Giggs) and have always thought they’d be phased in as the 2 legends were phased out into the twilight of their careers.

    I can only really say that the midfield should be picked depending on who we are playing. If it’s going to be a battle, Anderson is your man. He is a much better at getting the ball than Scholes despite being a lot younger and is one who will run with the ball despite having great vision and passing ability. His penetration on the ball is also good, I think he will grow more and more into a box-to-box player and before long will be getting on the end of many balls across the box, his timing will improve loads over the next year and then we’ll see the goals.

    If we are lacking creativity and experience then Scholes is a great choice as his passing is second to none and he can dictate the pace of a game single handedly. His goal scoring record isn’t bad but his average offering over the last 10 years is around 9 a season.

    It’s a tough debate and with somebody like the under rated Carrick who can pass and tackle as well as Hargreaves, park and Fletcher we have plenty of options, it’s not like we have to choose one or the other.. as we saw against Newcastle, despite their poor display.

    Either way, we have the best Midfield in England! So I am Happy…

  19. Sid P says:

    I love Scholesy as much as the next Red but it’s become painfully obvious that he isn’t the same player we remember from 2-3 years ago. Scholes and Giggs in the same lineup are a defensive liability and scholes just can’t seem to play in that anchor role in midfield (an experiment which SAF has tried on more then one occasion). Scholes is best just behind the strikerss; pulling the strings so to speak. Much like Bergkamp did in the final few seasons of his career. Anderson on the other hand like the article states is a fierce, hungry young player. He tracks back, wins the ball and immediately launches counter attacks. He also doesn’t dwell on the play, or lose possession easily, which makes him invaluable in the fluid type attacking formation that Utd now regularly play.

    Scholes and Giggs shouldn’t both start in prem league games. It puts too much defensive responsibility on Rooney who has to track back and become the outlet player in the midfield. This has caused his own goal numbers to fall below what you’d normally expect from a striker of his calibre.

    Over the future, I’m sure we’ll see more of Anderson-Giggs, or Nani-Scholes type of midfield/winger combination. A healthy mix of youth and experience has always been the formula for success at Utd. The old legends need to be praised for their hard work over the years, but it’s clear now that they are in the twiligjht of their careers.

  20. Jimmy D says:

    I rememeber when we lost scholes i thought ohh no! can we find enough cover for him until scholsey is back. Then came anderson a young brazilian lad i have heard abit about but never as a combative central midfielder, i knew he was of the attacking type, and even ferguson said he was much more attacking than scholes when we signed him. But from Ando’s first game i was so amazed and excited by the prospect of him playing that within afew weeks we forgot that scholsey was missing, not to say that i dont love scholsey cause he is fantastic and he still has so much more to give united before he retires, but Ando was putting in the performances that could only be excliamed as amazing…. a few months down thae track and scholes was playing his first game back with anderson on the bench and i remember turning to my brother and saying we miss how we play with Ando in the team.
    I love when Scholes is playing but when Ando is on the field its just an added excitement.
    And I wouldn’t worry about him scoring cause he has come so close afew times but once it goes in he will consistantlyscore, but i dont think he scoring will improve his game at all, it will just be another statistic against his name..

    Just another note of interest is the Lyon game around the corner i would suggest that playing a little more defensive hinders us so playing with Hargreaves is more defensive minded and i dont think we need it, i think teams should play to our tune as apposed to us playing to their formation..

  21. howie says:

    Anderson is no Scholes…but Scholes is no Anderson either.. I still think Shcoles has a few good years ahead of him, but just in case he decided to hang his boots a bit earlier, Anderson is well and truly capable of filling the void.

  22. wine says:

    anderson is the next scholes i ges bravo 2 him coz his proved his critcs right

  23. eduardo G. Moran says:

    Scholes in this case. Andrson against Lyon. Both for obvious reasons.

  24. big red says:

    i think we could get away wit playin both of them. scholes slows the game down. dont think so scholes picks out a pass. hargreves tat is someone that slows up a game. we may aswell play 5 at the back when we play him

  25. Simmo says:

    Anyone who says Anderson over Scholes is a bloody idiot, he’s a good player no question & will only get better but Scholes is a Football Genius, if you disagree with me ask Zidane, Henry, Raul, Davids etc etc

  26. spindle says:

    To Simmo – you forgot to mention Roy Keane! and I am with you on this. Scholesy is good to the end of next seson at least – we’ll review it then ;-)

  27. Salford red. says:

    After speaking to many reds it seems to be a case of the king is dead long live the king. Anderson has personally been my player of the season – not to ignore Ronnie, Wayne, Paddy, Rio and Vida and recently Carrick who i’m sure reds will agree has been outstanding lately- and i have to admit i’m delighted when i find he’s starting in any game in any competition. However, i feel the way some reds have wrote of the ginger ninger to be a little distasteful. I’m regularly infromed by the guy who sits in front of me that scholes is “finished” and although i agree that there is no room for sentiment in football, i find this opinion a bit harsh on many levels. Yes his performances on coming back from injury have been sporadic. But surely this is more to do with a lack of match sharpness, rather than any real deterioration in his ability or physical attributes. I’m a bit more concerned about Hargreaves who i defended on this site a month a go. His performance in lyon and at spurs were pretty pure and seemed to highlight inadequacies in technical ability. Obviously this cannot be explained by his recurrent injury problems. This is a player as one-footed as Giggsy. Granted he breaks up play but is distribution and first touch are, on the evidence of the previous month, average at best.

  28. spindle says:

    Long live the King!
    Anyone who said Anderson over Scholes will be proved wrong by Scholesy’s performances between now and the end of the season!

  29. denton davey says:

    Simmo – Scholes WAS a great player but he’s not now. Plus, playing him in as the midfield anchor role reduces his great qualities (run-timing, heding, volleying, and overall attacking nous) at the expense of slowing down the game and bringing in his own particular kind of defensive vulnerability. He’s slowed down as age and injuries have taken a toll so Scholes is simply not the player he was earlier in the decade when he WAS a genius.

    He’s not at that level now. That’s been said by a number of others and while we are all entitled to an opinion on this matter, it does nothing to your credit to call these others “bloody idiots”.

    One of the great joys of this message-board has been the high level of discussion and the lack of name-calling, so, let’s try to maintain a level of respect for each other.

  30. Taehr says:

    I think scholesy still has a part to play in united this season and the next.Im not to sure about giggs though.But I would expect anderson to play most games because he is just so dam good.19 years old but and I would throw him in against any team.The scary thing about this united team is the pace.Nani,ronaldo on the wings are quick.Anderson is probably faster than both them with the ball and rooney and tevez are also fast.The pace and athleticsm of this team is gonna scare the hell out of teams in england and europe.I dreaded the day giggs and scholes would end their careers but now I look forward to seeing what the future has for these youngsters.

  31. jimmy Bob says:

    giggs and scholes have been untd legens but in my view nani and anderson should be starting on current form

  32. denton davey says:

    Agreed – time waits for no one. Giggs is clearly only a shadow of his former self and, in my opinion, SAF should reconsider playing Scholes as a midfield anchor. Paul Scholes has lots to offer as the “last twenty minute substitute with a nose for goal” – kinda like SuperPippo Inzaghi for ACMilan.

  33. spindle says:

    oh ye of little faith!!!

  34. spindle says:

    Still say Anderson over scholes after watching him against Newcastle? Didn’t think so, told ya so!

  35. Sully (South Africa) says:

    Whoever is giving preference to Anderson over Scholesy, is a fucking punk, dont really know much about footy. Anderson is top and will only get better, but to give him a nod over Scholesy is fucking stupid. Afterall Paul Scholes is the most intelligent player i’ve ever seen in the English game. If you disagree with me just ask Sir Bobby Charlton, which is the ONLY player in the current squad who epitomises what Manchester United is all about… And if you still tend to disagree with me, then just ask who really is Paul Scholes to people like Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane, Laurent Blanc, Raul, Edgar Davids, Marcelo Lippi, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, and you lot already forgot what our captain Rio Ferdinand said when asked who is the BEST player at Manchester United, and he’s answer was ” For me there’s no one better than Scholes, he’s the BEST ” I guess all you muppets were on a high when Rio, our captain claimed that. Some cats just dont understand… Jeez. I love you Paul Scholes, YOU GINGER LEGEND


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