After a goalless home draw against Reading on the opening day of the Premiership season, it was Paul Scholes who scored our first goal of the campaign, finding the back of the net with just 15 minutes played against Portsmouth.
After months on the sidelines following an operation, it seems as though Scholesy was saving himself up for his second goal of the season. He timed it to perfection. In they typical Hollywood fashion United’s history seems to portray, our legendary player, one of the few remaining from the glorious period in the early 90s, scored the goal that beat Barcelona and put us in the final. This moment was of course all the more magical considering he missed out on our glorious night in 1999 through suspension.
In that 1998-1999 campaign, Scholes scored in the 3-3 against Barcelona, the 2-2 against Bayern Munich, the 5-0 hammering of Brondby, as well as the 1-1 quarter final against Inter Milan. He had earned his place in the final team that year and it was heartbreaking to see our local lad miss out.
Months ago, Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that if we were to reach the final, Scholes would be picked at the least for sentimental reasons, which I’m sure is not a comment Scholesy would have appreciated. He would want to be in the team because of merit, not sentiment. However, there can be no denying that it is his form, along with the semi-final goal, that will give him a place in our starting line-up.
In contrast, another old boy, Ryan Giggs, is set to miss out on a starting place. He was left on the bench for our recent crucial games against Barcelona and Arsenal, with Nani and Park played in preference. Even with Nani’s suspension for the final game of the season against Wigan, it was Park who started.
Fergie has admitted he’s having a hard time picking our starting XI and bench for the final, and although it is as certain as it can be that Giggs will at least get a place in the squad, he will probably miss out on the opening line-up because of Park or Tevez.
Still, whatever part Giggs gets to play in Moscow, his domestic season ended in style. It was Scholes who scored our first league goal of the season and Giggs who scored our last. As he coolly found the back of the net from a perfect Rooney pass, that certainly felt as though he had just scored the goal that retained us the league. Following months of criticism, it couldn’t have happened to a more perfect player.
So both Giggs and Scholes have played their roles for us this season, but has their importance ended with the league? Or will they tonight remind the World just how good they really are?