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Scholes: Is Our Midfield Better Than 1999?

Paul Scholes Nicky ButtPaul Scholes has finally returned to the Manchester United first team after picking up an injury which required surgery back in October. After a bright start, Scholes has looked a shadow of his former self in recent matches against Spurs and City. With Hargreaves and Anderson proving themselves a competent pairing on several occasions, including games against Arsenal and Liverpool, fans have questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to put Scholes straight back in to the team.

Today, Scholes has claimed he enjoys the competition for places and that it only serves as a positive thing for the club. “There are so many options in there now – Michael (Carrick), Owen (Hargreaves), Anderson, Fletcher, O’Shea and Giggsy,” he told MUTV. “I think that has to be good for your game. You go into matches knowing that if you don’t play well, there’s always somebody waiting to take your place. We all have to keep our performance level up to get picked for the next game. If we do lose one or two players, it doesn’t make any difference. Any two from six could play and you’d still have the same outcome.

Plenty of comparison have been made between our current squad in comparison to the incredible side which won the Treble in 1999. We strengthened that midfield with the signing of Veron, who never quite fulfilled his potential in England. When asked whether our current midfield was better than the great options we’ve had in the past, Scholes argues they are of the same quality. “It’s hard to say (whether this is our best midfield),” he said. “I think we’ve always had competition, like when Nicky (Butt), Roy (Keane) and (Juan Sebastian) Veron were all here. They were all top midfielders and it was hard to get into the team. I think it’s the same now.”

(2008) Scholes, Hargreaves, Anderson, Carrick & Fletcher vs (2001) Scholes, Keane, Butt & Veron. Which is better?

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. Sam says:

    I think the current one has more depth, but the settled patnership of Keane and Scholes (when Veron was left out) was better than any partership we have now- for the moment at least.

  2. craig mc says:

    Any two from six can play and you’d still have the same outcome, NO, NO, NO!!!. Not until all rustiness has gone from some players, and Scholes especially. He has cost us in midfield in the last three matches. When Hargreaves and Anderson played together in high tempo matches we did well. No matter how great a player Scholesy has been, he should not have gone straight back in, but should have come on for last part of match to start getting up to speed again. Fergie’s persistence in playing a rusty Scolesy has cost us dearly I believe. If he plays saturday against Arsenal’s midfield, I will be amazed if it is not bye bye FA cup. But go on Scholesy amaze me, and play a blinder if picked yet again.

  3. Taehr says:

    One had roy keane,the other doesnt.I think this the partnership between hargo and anderson has lots of potential,but scholes(then) and keane were different class.Although anderson could take united to a new level.I wouldnt trade him for anyone in the world.Not kaka,not fabregas,not anyone.I find it still hard to believe hes only 19.I also am not happy about him being out of the team.Fergie always says if youre good enough youre old enough but he hasnt applied that with him.Scholes heading straight back into the team is proof as anderson has in my opinion been our second best player this season.

  4. Tom F says:

    Scholes is still in there which is important. As for the others, Anderson could hopefully be the one to bring some of Keanes qualities back into our midfield. He is winning a lot of balls in midfield, chasing balls down when ever he can, he is making more runs into opponents boxes, he has a great passing ability and will onl get better. Hargreaves is the best there is at winning back the ball and giving it to our more creative players..

    It is hard to compare the two different era’s, Veron was a great talent, he had all of the ability but it never really happened for him. Carrick definately has the passing ability and creativity but hasn’t really met the standard he did last year.

    I was happy with our midfeld then and am as happy now, only a fool would moan about our choice in midfield. The title winning midfield from last year as well as a very promising Anderson and a proven Hargreaves.

    I really hope the latter two start the game on Sunday, they will both break up Arsenals play and frustrate them continuously, which is only a good thing for us. If we need the extra boost going forward Scholes would be ideal to come on as fresh legs in the last half hour, he’d show Fabregas a thing or two the, I’m sure.

  5. spiritof1983 says:

    2001 team was more expertienced and versed with playng with each other. Present squad, especially with Anderson, has the potential and will improve. They aren’t presently better that the past CM pairings.

    I don’t feel Scholes is diminished as a player, even pace wise he seems the same. To me he acts as match tempo controller and midfield maestro. For past seasons he doesn’t advance up to top of the box for shooting often and isn’t any different now. He has long since lost pace and tends to conserve for midfield coverage.

    I see Scholes and Carrick as the best pairing for control, passing and organisation/discipline in shape with balance in advancing and defending at the expense of pace and aggression.

    So for combative games, my choice would be Hargreaves and Anderson. Compromise would be in passing fluidity and lesser maturity in decision making.

    The failure in the two last games isn’t due to Scholes. It was multiple and if anything passing and keeping the ball wasn’t well enough, throughout the team. Also the entire team was off tempo with the opposition.

    If I was looking at this Saturday’s game against Arsenal as part of a run of games, then Scholes – Carrck would get the nod in starting. Anderson and Hargreaves would be bench options. However if this is taken as a one off, with a different pairing for Lyon game, then I would go for Anderson and Hargreaves and use the former in Lyon.

  6. Ironlion27 says:

    2001 no question. Not because they were better players, they were not. This lot is technically far more gifted than ’01. But the ’01 squad played much smarter, closed down space properly (this lot doesnt) and exploded offensively. Plus ’01 had the human dynamo, Roy Keane. He brought another level to the entire team which no one on the current squad could ever find in themselves. Until that job of fearless, lion hearted leadership is filled the squads just won’t match up. When we get that back with the technical abilities of the squad now, it could be much better than ’01.


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