This week’s Premier League hero is Manchester United’s Paul Scholes, one of the most technically gifted footballers of his generation.
Paul Scholes was one of those rare modern footballers who spent their whole career at one club. The midfielder was a product of the Manchester United youth system and went on to become one of the greatest midfielders to grace the Premier League.
Scholes was always admired for his great vision, which was shown through his ability to pick out great passes and create opportunities for his teammates.
The midfielder was superb in possession and rarely gave the ball away even while under pressure from the opposition. Scholes’ technical ability was key to Manchester United during their domination of the Premier League and this is shown through the amount of honours the midfielder helped his side to during his playing days.
Scholes won 11 Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Champions League titles during his long career at Old Trafford. On a personal level the midfielder played 499 Premier League games and scored an impressive 107 goals from midfield.
Paul Scholes was born in Salford, England on the 16th of November 1974. As a young boy, Scholes excelled in both cricket and football but was led towards a football career after he was spotted by a scout while playing for his local team. This led to the young lad signing for Manchester United as an apprentice and he began to develop his talent before being called up to the first team.
On the 21 of September 1994, Scholes made his first team debut for Manchester United where he scored twice to defeat Port Vale in a league cup fixture. This impressive debut led to his league debut, which came in an away fixture against Ipswich where United lost 3-2.
Scholes began to impress as the season went on and he made 17 appearances while scoring five times for United. However, United failed in their title bid and then ended the season with an F.A. Cup defeat to Everton, but it wasn’t all bad for Scholes as a Mark Hughes’ exit meant he had a chance to gain a first team place.
The 1995-96 season saw Paul Scholes make progress at United as he stepped up to prove himself as a key member of the squad by filling in for Eric Cantona alongside Andy Cole. Scholes went on to make 26 starts for United and scored ten league goals in a season where United triumphed in the Premier League and the FA Cup. The midfielder almost ended up at Blackburn Rovers that summer as United were trying to arrange a swap deal for Alan Shearer but the deal fell through as Shearer ended up at Newcastle United.
In the 1996/97 season, Scholes changed to the number 18 shirt, which he kept for the majority of his United career as United won the Premier League title again. It wasn’t an overly impressive season for Scholes though as he made fewer appearances than the season before and only managed to score on three occasions.
In the 1997/98 season, Scholes changed to central midfield as he had to cover for an injured Roy Keane. This led to Scholes becoming a regular in United’s first team as he started 31 league games and scored eight times but United finished the season with no major trophy.
The 1998/99 season was possibly the most successful season for Scholes during his Manchester United career as the club managed to win the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League all in the one season while Scholes also enjoyed scoring twice in the F.A. Cup final.
This amazing season raised expectation for United and Scholes in the 1999/00 season and the midfielder enjoyed another successful season as he scored nine times in 31 league starts which included an outstanding goal against Bradford City as he volleyed home a Beckham corner.
Scholes scored his first hat trick against West Ham United in a 7-1 thrashing of the Hammers as United went on to retain the title. United won the title again in the 2000/01 season as Scholes made 32 starts and scored six times but the United formation was shaken up for the 2001/02 season after the arrival of Juan Sebastian Veron.
United adapted a 4-4-1-1 formation as Scholes played the withdrawn striker role. It wasn’t a hugely successful season for this new look United side but they retained the title in the 2002/03 season and Scholes played his part by netting 14 times including an impressive hat trick against Newcastle United.
32 appearances and nine goals proved not to be enough to help United to another title but they did reclaim the F.A. Cup by defeating Millwall 3-0. Scholes didn’t get on the score sheet in the final but helped United get there by scoring the winning goal against Arsenal in the semi-final. The following season wasn’t so enjoyable for Scholes and United as they didn’t win the title and lost the F.A. Cup final to Arsenal on penalties as Scholes’ penalty was saved by Jens Lehmann.
Scholes only recorded 22 appearances and two goals in the 2005/06 season as he suffered a vision problem, which led to him missing the second half of the season but he returned for the final game against Charlton. The 2006/07 season was much more enjoyable for Scholes as he played 31 times and scored six goals in a season where United retained the title.
The midfielder was criticised for his discipline as he received eight yellow cards during the season and was sent off for swinging at Xabi Alonso during a fixture against Liverpool. Discipline aside, Scholes joined Bobby Charlton, Bill Faulkes and Ryan Giggs by making his 500th appearance for United in all competitions as well as being included in the PFA team of the year.
United retained the Premier League title in the 2007/08 season but Scholes was out from October until January due to injury. He returned to enjoy United’s Premier League and Champions League triumphs in the second half of the season. Scholes was also successful on a personal level as he received the great honour of being inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Consistency was key for Scholes and United in the 2008/09 season as he scored two crucial goals for his side in his 28 league appearances as United once again won the league. Scholes made his 600th appearance for the red devils in all competitions in 2009 and he netted the only goal in a fixture against Wolves in the 2009/10 season to become the 19th Premier League player to score 100 league goals.
Scholes scored three times in the 2009/10 season as he played 32 times for his side and in April 2010, Scholes signed a new one year deal for United. Scholes and United had a brilliant start to the 2010/11 start as he assisted two goals in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United on the opening day and was then awarded the Premier League Player of the Month award in August 2010.
As the season progressed, Scholes made less of an impact and made only 22 starts and scored only once. This led to Scholes announcing his retirement on the 31st of May 2011.
This wasn’t to be the end for Scholes though as he reversed his decision in January 2012 and returned to the United squad. Scholes returned with an immediate impact as he scored in a 3-0 win against Bolton. This goal also meant Scholes had scored in every season for United since the 1994-95 season.
Scholes also scored crucial goals for United in games against Norwich and QPR as United looked like strong favourites to win the title but it wasn’t to be as Manchester City pipped them in the last minute due to a late Sergio Aguero goal. Scholes decided to stay on by signing a one year contract with United and then made his 700th appearance for the club in all competitions, which he marked with a goal against Wigan.
This also meant that Scholes scored in 19 consecutive seasons, which has only been surpassed by Ryan Giggs. Scholes and United ended the season with the Premier League trophy and he announced his second and final retirement after the successful 2012-13 season.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena.