Due to the natural ageing process, Paul Scholes’ exit from top flight football had an air of inevitability about it, but his recent regression from retirement was quite the opposite. To add spice to the already fiercest of local rivalries, the announcement came just hours before Manchester United’s FA Cup third round derby clash with Manchester City; however, it remains to be seen whether his return can help United’s pursuit of their rivals – in an already intriguing race for domestic supremacy.
Regulars to the Theatre of Dreams this season have experienced the full plethora of footballing emotion; while the 8-2 rout over a hapless Arsenal side delivered such joy, a revolutionised City then re-arranged the Old Trafford history books with a dazzling 6-1 triumph. Furthermore, the Christmas period witnessed back-to-back defeats for the champions, a phase that saw the growing number of doubters question the strength of the champions’ midfield department. Since Tom Cleverley’s injury, the media’s infatuation with Wesley Sneijder becoming part of the United assembly has again intensified, but both parties seem intent on defying all rumours.
There have been numerous tactical shifts from the United manager to compensate the team’s apparent midfield deficiencies, but a permanent solution has yet to surface. There is no denying that Scholes is, or maybe was, the embodiment of footballing inspiration – his showreel is evidence enough – but at 37-years of age he may not be the player he once was. His sloppy input into Man City’s second goal will not fill his manager with joy – saying that, the player’s accumulation of match-time will hopefully help eradicate such flaws. The one thing he will offer is an abundance of experience, something that cannot be foraged in any transfer window. His age, and more pertinently his fitness levels, will dictate the extent to which he can help the United squad in closing out games. Moreover, it is surely an emergency procedure in case potential club transfer targets are not obtained, as Ferguson may yet enter the market as January fades.
Ferguson must pull on every strand of nous, acquired over 25 years of Old Trafford management, if his side are to be crowned Premier League champions for the fifth time in six years. If the United manager believes the resurrection of Scholes will boost the team’s chances, then who has the authority to question one the most successful British managers of all time? After all, his career is epitomised by such masterstrokes.
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