IAN LADYMAN: The terrible waste of true great Paul Scholes… it’s out on the grass where English football needs the Manchester United legend, not dispensing pithy advice on Instagram
- While Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are coaching, Paul Scholes is periperal
- The iconic Premier League midfielder’s ingenuity would be an asset to any club
- It is a surprise that Manchester United were the only club in for Christian Eriksen
- Hidden in Nottingham is a story of one of the founders of Italian giants AC Milan
As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Premier League, two of its greatest midfielders Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were side by side on the touchline at Villa Park.
As for the one who could see and read the game better than any of them — the one who could smack a ball against a tree at training from 30 yards — he remains lost to the game.
Frank Lampard (left) and Steven Gerrard are bosses but Paul Scholes is not a prominent figure
The Manchester United and Premier League icon’s knowledge is not used enough in the sport
Paul Scholes? The chances are he was watching Manchester United on TV at his home north of the city on Saturday and wondering when he is going to be offered the opportunity to pass on all that he knows.
We only see Scholes on the television these days, or read about him in the sports news pages. Last week, for example, his thoughts on United’s home defeat by Brighton came to our attention via a social media post.
‘Midfielders it’s all about body shape when receiving the ball,’ wrote Scholes. ‘Too many times facing their own goal and can only play one way… get on the ‘half turn’ for **** sake and bring your forward players into the game.’
It was more fodder for the online headline writers. Scholes slams Fred and Scott McTominay, and so on. We know how that works.
United could have done with Scholes’ words of advice during their 4-0 thrashing at Brentford
But reading those words it was hard not to imagine the 47-year-old on a training field somewhere, gripping a young midfield player by the shoulders and walking him through his positioning.
Given Scholes’ record — 11 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, 66 England caps — it is hard to envisage any up-and-coming midfielder being naive enough not to inhale every single word.
Scholes probably does not have the personality to manage.
He is bright but would never claim to be a natural or enthusiastic communicator. He took the job at Oldham once but walked away after 28 days fearing interference from above in team selection.
He does have his coaching badges, however, and does want to be involved. He misses the game that was once his life and has not managed to fill the hole it has left.
It is hard to imagine him networking or ‘playing the game, using mates in the media’ as Keane so witheringly described the search for work when in conversation with Gary Neville on a podcast last year.
But the fact is that someone like Scholes should not have to.
In three decades of the Premier League, has anyone played with more intelligence, vision and sureness? Did anyone apply themselves so diligently or play so honestly or selflessly at the very highest level?
Scholes had a spell in charge at Oldham but quit because of interference from those above him
It is hard to think so. So the fact that nobody has beat a path to Scholes’ door with offers of work probably says more about our game and how it works than it does about him.
Those who know him know, of course. When Ryan Giggs was handed temporary charge of the United first team on the sacking of David Moyes in 2014, Scholes was the first one he called.
He was back through the door immediately, if only for a while. It is understood that United may reach out to him again soon.
Not to coach, though. Just to rebuild the bridges damaged in recent times — perhaps to pick a wise United brain about what exactly that great club really should look like.
It’s out on the grass where English football needs Paul Scholes, though. Our game, as improved as it is, is not exactly awash with the type of player he was.
To think that one of the true greats remains on the outside, reduced to dispensing pithy advice on Instagram on a Sunday evening, seems a terrible waste indeed.
Why did no one else go for Eriksen?
It was surprising to hear a minority of Brentford fans jeering Christian Eriksen when he returned to west London with Manchester United on Saturday.
Bees manager Thomas Frank remains fond of the Danish midfielder and his only regret is that he didn’t offer him an 18-month deal last January, meaning the club would at least have commanded a fee when he left.
Just as surprising is that United were the only club in for Eriksen. His old side Tottenham, it is understood, never made a move. Antonio Conte, who coached Eriksen at Inter, wasn’t convinced.
Milan icon’s plaque worth a butcher’s
A visit to Nottingham is rarely wasted (just don’t stay in the Best Western) but last week’s layover was particularly rewarding.
On the way from a visit to the Lincolnshire Poacher on Mansfield Road, I came across what looked like a shop front with a huge AC Milan badge in the window.
Turns out it marks the birthplace of Herbert Kilpin, the son of a Nottingham butcher who travelled to Italy in 1891 for work and was subsequently pivotal in the establishment and early development of the great Italian football club.
Beneath the shop front is a plaque that would have told me all of that had only I noticed it. And for that oversight I blame the visit to the Lincolnshire Poacher.
Gareth Southgate will be aware of a possible problem concerning the form of England’s central defenders ahead of the World Cup.
In the long term, Southgate may find he has another option. West Ham midfielder Declan Rice played in the position during a pre-season game and was so impressive some of those present still talk about it.
The number of emails that came my way after last week’s musings on time-wasting suggests concern is widespread.
Meanwhile, Southend manager Kevin Maher revealed the ball was in play for just 36 minutes of his team’s defeat by Boreham Wood in the National League. No wonder there was only time for one goal.