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Man Utd strike an early blow

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Paul Fletcher | 20:39 UK time, Sunday, 8 August 2010

At Wembley Stadium

Drawing cast-iron conclusions from the result of the Community Shield is a foolhardy business - and Ryan Giggs suggested as much when he denied that Manchester United's 3-1 victory over Chelsea would give them any psychological advantage going into the new Premier League season.

Indeed, the rather half-hearted manner in which the United squad paraded their latest trophy around the (now partly artificial) Wembley pitch suggested that they were treating the win with an appropriate sense of perspective.

Yet there is no question that any advantage to be gained during Sunday's traditional curtain-raiser belonged to Sir Alex Ferguson's team on an afternoon when his side gained their first victory over Ancelotti's Chelsea.

The Italian ended his first season at Stamford Bridge as a Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield winner - his team inflicting home and away league defeats on United in the process.

Ferguson recently claimed Chelsea would once again be the biggest threat to his aspirations of silverware this campaign - and so an early and emphatic victory over the team he has identified as his principal rival will surely be most welcome.

Paul ScholesScholes still has the ability to dominate in midfield. Photo: Getty Images

Central to their victory was the performance of Paul Scholes, who won generous praise from Ferguson. The midfielder's virtuoso passing display handed United a measure of control that Chelsea could not negate and gave England manager Fabio Capello, who watched the contest from the stands, a glimpse of what might have been had the 35-year-old accepted his late invitation to join his World Cup squad.

Scholes played several particularly eye-catching cross-field passes that caught left-back Ashley Cole out of position and illuminated the match with a deft through ball that released Wayne Rooney.

It goes almost without saying that there was a rash Scholes challenge, his lunge on Florent Malouda coming within minutes of kick-off. He also skewed an early volleyed chance horribly wide. But the manner in which he found space and the consistency and accuracy of his distribution suggested he could still play a key role for United this season.

He will have to be properly managed to maximise his effectiveness in what could be his final campaign but, as a demonstration of his worth, I thought it was a vintage display. Of course, Scholes himself looked typically underwhelmed as he and his team-mates embarked on a lap of honour.

There was also much to please United supporters from the performance of Rooney, who played up front alongside Michael Owen before both were withdrawn at the break.

Much has been made of Rooney's miserable World Cup but there was little sign of any post-South Africa hangover spilling into the new campaign.

As with Scholes, he too played a sumptuous raking cross-field pass that caught Cole absent without leave. The United striker also played a key role in the creation of Antonio Valencia's goal.

Rooney collected a long-range ball from Scholes and executed a brilliant first-time square pass that ran perfectly for the unmarked Valencia as he charged into the Chelsea penalty box.

But what perhaps raised the loudest cheer from the United supporters - and showed that Rooney has lost none of his hunger - was a piece of defending, the 24-year-old racing 50 yards to win back the ball after he had been caught in possession.

Recent arrival Javier Hernandez
and Dimitar Berbatov replaced Rooney and Owen at the break, with both substitutes making a positive impact on the contest.

Ferguson had already made it clear that he felt Mexican Hernandez had what is required to succeed in English football despite his relatively diminutive 5ft 9in frame - and there was evidence on Sunday to suggest the Scot might be correct.

John Terry versus Hernandez, who had the nickname Chicharito (little pea) on the back of his shirt, was a physical mismatch. But Fifa statistics suggested Hernandez was the fastest player at the World Cup. He was certainly a lively presence at Wembley, constantly seeking out space and showing the confidence to play a series of feints and flicks as he tried to play in his team-mates.

I don't think we can read anything into his goal on Sunday as it was a remarkably fortunate finish, with his shot hitting him in the face before flying into the net.

But I saw him play against Argentina in South Africa as he cruelly exposed the frailties of defender Martin Demichelis with a deft spin before firing a left-foot strike into the net from a tight angle for Mexico's consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat. He struck me as being as player with impressive finishing ability.

berbatov595_getty.jpgBerbatov showed sublime skill to score Man Utd's third. Photo: Getty Images

Finishing has not always been Berbatov's strong suit since his move to Old Trafford for a fee north of £30m on 1 September 2008.

It was the Bulgarian's sensational form for Tottenham that persuaded Ferguson to pay such a hefty sum but he has laboured under the weight of expectation, scoring 12 goals in 43 appearances last season, none of them against United's principal domestic rivals.

If Berbatov needed a goal to generate a sense of momentum going into the new season then it arrived in injury time when he finished a precise move with an effortless lob from just outside the area. It was the sort of chance that you sense would have floated agonisingly wide during the closing months of the previous campaign.

Berbatov described it as "a goal like any other" but the celebrations of his team-mates told another story. His strike clinched victory and most United players made a visible effort to mob their team-mate - none more so than skipper Nemanja Vidic.

"It was important for him," said Vidic. "He had a lot of pressure on him last year and I hope he will score more goals this season."

Of course, any analysis of United needs to be tempered by the claim of Chelsea striker Didier Drobga that many of his team-mates are lacking sharpness after joining pre-season at a late stage following their World Cup exertions.

"We saw in the match that we are not ready," said the Ivorian, who came on as a second-half substitute. "We have a lot of players who have not been training for very long."

That would explain what seemed to me to be a slightly sluggish performance. But it will undoubtedly be a much improved Chelsea that take on United when they meet in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on 18 December.

Ancelotti's side open their season with games against West Brom, Wigan and Stoke
- three matches that the Blues may well regard as winnable as they move towards peak fitness. United start with a home fixture against newly-promoted Newcastle.

"We know the real business starts next week," said Giggs.

It will be a lot longer than that before we know whether United's victory over Chelsea has any real significance but the first blow of what is sure to be a long battle has been landed by United.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Man Utd hopefully have the chance this year to make it 19. Hernandez looks good. Valencia should mature. Just hope Owen does well and Rooney doesn't burn out. However, Chelsea despite losing today, will be there with us, with Arsenal and Tottenham. I just can't see Man City performing well. Not just yet anyway.

  • Comment number 2.

    Definitely a significant blow for Chelsea. Psychologically, having lost their last 4 pre-season games, and with an International break next up, it may be tough for them to get themselves up for West Brom. Lucky for them their games are wholly winnable, but that could work against them and increase pressure if they don't win their first game or two.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good psychological boost for Utd, Hernandez and Berbatov. Can't see Scholes putting in a full season. I reckon Hargreaves will never play again but I hope I am wrong. United are thus very short in midfield. I like Gibson but don't think he is the finished article yet. Still I think the premier league is cracked up to be stronger than it is. I can a United clean sweep this year, then Fergie retiring.

  • Comment number 4.

    On any given day, United can beat Chelsea by a couple of goals or it can be the other way around, so it would be foolish to think of this game as any kind of reference for the rest of the season. The test will be where Liverpool slipped last season; picking up three points against the teams they know they should be taking three points though.

    Regarding Scholes, despite an excellent game, he should be used sparingly for the upcoming season. He has had a long break and looked very fresh, but at 35, playing for one of the most demanding managers, he won't last long if overused. Ten to fifteen games this season then onto a coaching role.

  • Comment number 5.

    This by no means has any effect on the season ahead but the Chelsea excuses are a bit laughable.....

    Manchester United had players at the world cup as well that only started training a week ago

    Micheal Owen and Antonio Valencia have just come back from injurys

    And the team was missing 2/3 out of the 1st choice back 4

    yet we won at a canter and Chelsea made excuses at the fact they lost oh well onwards to Monday 16th

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm also a massive Sebastian Vettel fan so agree with post number 1's love for Vettel.

    But I don't concur with your opinion on Tottenham being up there. Not enough experience to compete on all fours and will have to prioritise on one of the major competitions be it premier league or cl. I feel that Liverpool will be strong this year, and I am not just saying that as a fan. There are so many different things that Hodgson brings that Benitez didn't. Roy shows a lot of affection to his players and likes to be uncle Roy if you like. Benitez was very cold to the players and was the manager 9-5 and nothing else. Hodgson also knows how to spend money wisely through learning throughout his career. Benitez wouldn't have signed Joe Cole, and instead would have gone for some Spanish reject from a La liga bottom half team.

    Come on Liverpool.

  • Comment number 7.

    Has anyone mentioned the pitch? It looked really good today - the best I've seen Wembley look. Maybe the Desso fibres will do the trick. Let's hope so. It must be the first game at Wembley when the pitch has not been a major talking point. Let's hope that continues.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Drawing cast-iron conclusions from the result of the Community Shield is a foolhardy business"

    So don't.

  • Comment number 9.

    Coming from a Chelsea fan, United deserved it. There are simply no excuses; they've pretty much had the same amount of time to train and prepare as we have. They were just the better team.

    Hopefully now Carlo can see that we require a few key signings to challenge on all fronts this year. We need a creative midfielder in the Scholes mould. We need a new centre back and probably a new striker; I hope the Neymar transfer pulls through. Unlikey that all three will happen within the next few weeks, however.

    On a positive note, Sturridge looked quite good when he came on.

  • Comment number 10.

    "But what perhaps raised the loudest cheer from the United supporters - and showed that Rooney has lost none of his hunger - was a piece of defending, the 24-year-old racing 50 yards to win back the ball after he had been caught in possession".

    Pity he could do it on the greatest stage on earth with the world watching, but he can do it in a meaningless game...go figure

  • Comment number 11.

    aaaaah, how much SAF wanted Berba on scoresheet, some relief in both their faces after Berbalob! :)

  • Comment number 12.

    Of course, this hopefully this shuts out every critic of Rooney.. and start pointing finger at Capello for his stubborn tactics. Argument was very clear, that, he was not even offered bare minimum service from the England midfield to do anything all, and in those situations Rooney getting frustrated is quite common. That wasn't the case today, was it? Carrick & Scholes out played Mikel-Lampard-Essien off the pitch.

    And finally, thank god for the refreshing football action without vuvuzelas after long!

  • Comment number 13.

    Could you love Man Utd anymore?? Fair play they deserved to win the game, but come on. How many times have the winners of this pre-season friendly gone on to win the league. I remember Utd gettin beat by i think it was newcastle a few years back 3-0 and they went on to win it. I was impressed by Utd today but i just don't think when it comes to the Stokes and the Evertons of this league, the players will be able to perform. They need a big ground and a perfect pitch. Scholes was good but i can't see him doin it week in week out, and fletcher can't compare. Both teams had players needing more match practice but you can tell that this is gonna be a blindin season.

    Also i can't see Rooney replicating the form of last year. Everyone was championing him to do welll so he would perform at the world cup, now that he was abysmal, the media and fans will be getting on his back and i don't think he'll be able to handdle it week in week out.

    Chelsea for the league, with Arsenal comin in 2nd. Utd will do well for 3rd

    WIN OR LOSE, UP THE BLUES!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    To CarefreeCoors at 11:48
    As a United fan the scoreline was a bit flattering, but I thought we deserved the win in what was quite a good game - just hope we can repeat in the League. Your comment about Chelsea needing to strengthen is noted and everything I hear about Ramires is that he is a great prospect, but he doesn't seem to be any of the things you need. With Essien and Mikel as defensive midfielders is Ramires a good fit, as he seems to duplicate their roles? If he is as good as the reports, he is just the sort of player that United need, as the prospects for Hargreaves ever carrying out that role look bleak.

    To Peter D @ 2:05 - your last sentence makes no sense as written, but I guess you meant to say "Pity he could NOT do it".... You have to question what the manager's instructions were in South Africa - I assume he told Rooney to be extra careful as the referees would not allow his tackling back and he played as if he was totally uncomfortable with the system and role that he had.

  • Comment number 15.

    Congratulations Manchester United on your good start too this season. Chelsea had a flat performance which did not show the real champions on the pitch. I expected chelsea to lose following their poor results in the pre season games, although it is far from the truth that chelsea's loss in the charity shield wil repeat itsel in the premier league. Its not always entertaining to watch chelsea play man u, it is rather the result which many people wait for considering the two teams rating in Englash football.Its amazing how Zambian suppoters of the two teams follow every second of such an encounter cheering heartedly throughout the game.Tough luck chelsea, we hope to see your ignited performance in the premier league. Big up man u, we hope for your consistence after this good start in the 2010/2011 season.

  • Comment number 16.

    Good start for MU.

    Rooney basically drive home that SAfrica was a real misopportunity for England not because of lack of cpability but more of lack of capacity and will power of those involved at SAfrica to succeed from the FA, Management and the players.

    As Paul Scholes had shown, Hair Dryers should give the twin strikers combination of Rooney/Owen opportunity to explode for MU and 3 Lions.

  • Comment number 17.

    Good stuff Fletch, The Leeds v St.Helens game was probably slightly better than the Community Shield game but a good result for the pitch.

    ManU fans can take a spot of encouragement from the fact that Berbatov seemed less fearful and little pea looks like a bright spark. Not much to add about Scholes, it's a joy to watch when he's on that form.

    Shame to see the Chelsea fans worrying about their midfield. I'd be worried too if we'd lost Cole, Ballack and Deco!

  • Comment number 18.

    Re 14. (scarolinared)

    I've heard mixed reports in regards to Ramires but most reports seem to agree with you in that he is nothing like the player we actually need in our midfield. If he is indeed a defensive midfielder then surely he will be surplus to requirements? Mikel is maturing season after season and while it is not Essien's natural position, he can also perform the defensive midfielder duties very well. If he is a right-sided player then that is a little more suited to us but not what is most important right now. I'm still scratching my head as to why we didn't make a move for Rafael van der Vaart or even Mesut Ozil.

    Also, Ramires looked good at the World Cup but not that good. Not 20 million good. It doesn't make much sense to me. Much like the Joe Cole / Youssi Benayoun situation.

    I agree that United are quite light in their midfield. Hargreaves may not play again, which would be such a shame. While looking great in the abovementioned game, Scholes will realistically struggle to get through the season and must be used sparingly. To be honest, I've never rated Michael Carrick all that highly, however I think Anderson is quite underrated. Even the wing positions are quite limited for numbers. Do you think United's failure to bolster their midfield is a sign of the level of debt the club / owner's are currently in?

  • Comment number 19.

    What was up with Ashley Cole? Terrible performance from him.

  • Comment number 20.

    As an impartial to this game (Hammer fan), I thought that the scoreline flattered Man Utd. To my mind Chelsea looked more dangerous than their counterparts, but struggled with Cashley and Solomon (thanks Robbo) Hasntgota Kalou poor contributions (Drogba/Anelka he is not ...) Essien looked like getting back to form too, with the usual work rate, mixed with a great shot and an even better measured pass that again was missed by their profligate front line. Worse for Chelsea is the curse of the hopeless goalkeeper - Hilario.. I think Gordon Banks could still give some of these Premier League chumps a run for their money. Chelsea can only hope that Cech remains fit for the whole season.

    Both teams will improve throughout the season no doubt, but on the evidence I saw, Chelsea should actually be the happier side despite losing as they have much more left in the tank that was not displayed.


    (I bet Kalou gets 20+ this season now I've said that ...)

  • Comment number 21.

    Rooney played 45 minutes even before the season starts and two paragraphs are about him already. You see why people think that he is way better than he is?
    You would actually be helping him improve if you did not mention him when you don't have to. You would be helping the fans too, to manage their expectations of the lad.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Re 20. (Spigz)

    Unfortunately, I completely agree with you. How Salomon Kalou gets a game at Chelsea is far, far beyond me. I have been a Chelsea fan for all my 23 years and the term "not fit to wear the shirt" could not apply to anyone more in that time in my opinion. He doesn't score many. He doesn't create many. He can't defend. So can someone please explain to me what he actually does?

    He reminds me of Anelka. Just without the talent.

    If he does hit 20+ this season I'll gladly eat my words.

  • Comment number 24.

    13. At 02:18am on 09 Aug 2010, Jonnyc1983 wrote:

    Could you love Man Utd anymore?? Fair play they deserved to win the game, but come on. How many times have the winners of this pre-season friendly gone on to win the league. I remember Utd gettin beat by i think it was newcastle a few years back 3-0 and they went on to win it.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Just so you know...

    The winner of the Charity Shield has been the winner of the premiership 80% of the time in the last five seasons.

    United played Newcastle in the 96 Shield. United WON 4 - 0.

  • Comment number 25.

    10. At 02:05am on 09 Aug 2010, Peter D wrote:

    Pity he could do it on the greatest stage on earth with the world watching, but he can do it in a meaningless game...go figure

    ________________________________________________________________________

    *sigh*

    Some people just can't drop it, can they?

    Sad.

  • Comment number 26.

    A useful result against Chelsea - some will point to no Drogba, ring rustiness etc but United's players went to the WC as well and some for them got further so a bit of a lame excuse considering most of the ones that went were knocked out at group or last 16 stage.

    Winning is winning and United won and got another trophy which is what matters

  • Comment number 27.

    Pointless game and a meaningless result. End of.

  • Comment number 28.

    would you be saying that if your team had won it?

    No

  • Comment number 29.

    I can't help but feel this article is more than a little biased to United-I don't believe the fact that Chelsea played was even mentioned let alone the fact we scored! Less of this please, but anyways. Some encouraging stuff for the blues, Sturridge was immense as he came on and changed the game, Drogba looks to be on the road to recovery and Essien had a great game. Even Mikel,Benayoun, Malouda and Ivanovic looked sharp. If Kalouser is picked ahead of Sturridge after that display tho, I will start to doubt Carlo. Maybe one more defender (especially if Carv goes) and the brilliant Ozil would sure up our numbers and a quick return for Bosingwa would be welcome. First blood to the devils, then, but with that fixture 3 games before the end of the season I'm sure It will be another close run thing.

    By the way, we did deserve the win but credit to united who took their chances :(

  • Comment number 30.

    Magi Tatcher

    Is it pointless to play your last pre-season game against top-quality opposition?

    Is it pointless to give your new signings a taste of big-stage action?

    Is it meaningless that Chelsea lost their fourth pre-season game in a row yesterday?

    Is it meaningless that players short of match-fitness managed to get through 45 minutes yesterday?

  • Comment number 31.

    The Chelsea pan needs a new flash.

  • Comment number 32.

    Last time I checked pre season friendly defeats didn't count towards the league. It is easy to point out Chelsea's 4 defeats, without remembering they have been testing youngsters AND won the double last year anyway. So all you Man United fans go enjoy your Community Shield/Charity Shield/Waist of time trophy because throughout my lifetime nobody has ever cared about it, especially united fans, so why start now. And no I am NOT a Chelsea fan, just find it hilarious that United fans are grabbing on to any kind of victory they can, whereas Chelsea fans seem to be concentrating on how they played and how that can transfer that into the season. Not to mention everybody raving about Scholes, that 35 year old will NOT keep that up all season, he never has done. But it does prove age has no bearing on how you perform, and that calling Chelsea OAPs will have no effect when they win the league again.

  • Comment number 33.

    Not to mention everybody raving about Scholes, that 35 year old will NOT keep that up all season, he never has done. But it does prove age has no bearing on how you perform, and that calling Chelsea OAPs will have no effect when they win the league again.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Of course. EVERYONE is wrong about Scholes and YOU are correct. So Scholes has NEVER performed consistently? I think you will find players such as Davids, Seedorf, Vieira, Zidane et al all rate Scholes as the best and most complete midfielder of his generation. Still dont let blind and bitter hatred sway your opinion will you?

  • Comment number 34.

    Horrifically biased towards United in terms of words devoted. You could be forgiven for thinking Chelsea didn't even turn up...

  • Comment number 35.

    The Berbatov and Hernandez partnership looks like it could be very similar to how the Berbatov and Keane partnership worked at Spurs. Potentially lethal, though where this would leave Rooney is another matter.

  • Comment number 36.

    #10 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    STILL haven't got over the world cup??

  • Comment number 37.

    Shatners Bassoon, come on u dont really believe that about Scholes do u? Up there with Davids, Seedorf and Zidane? Don't make me laugh. Hes not a bad midfielder OK he had a good game against us but he is filthy. How he got away with scything down Malouda when we were on the break in the first half I dont know. Scholes will burn out because he is simply too old.

  • Comment number 38.

    Interesting blog as always Paul.

    I'm sure Scholes was once voted as the player that most premiership managers would like to sign a few years ago, he's full of quality.

    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 39.

    Im so hapy for Man United !!!!
    I think, this saison will be very very well and be bless united

  • Comment number 40.

    Chelsea_SUFC

    Micah Richards : "He's always in the right position, always seems to be at the end of the box when the ball drops in. The complete midfielder - when he's fit, he's the best. Some go missing but he's in the right place at the right time. He's my favourite player of all-time, unbelievable. If you give him a chance it's a goal, isn't it?"

    Glenn Hoddle : "There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere else in the world."

    Terry Venables : "He’s the best one- or two-touch passer in the country. He sees the game unlike any other player."

    Alan Shearer : "If you ask footballers to pick out the player they most admire, so many of them will pick Paul Scholes. He can tackle, and his passing and shooting is of the highest level. He’s the most consistent and naturally gifted player we’ve had for a long, long time."

    Eidur Gudjohnsen : "I'm more an admirer of Paul Scholes than I am of Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a fantastic player, but he has 10 other great players around him every week...Scholes is one of the most complete footballers I've ever seen. His one-touch play is phenomenal. Whenever I have played against him, I never felt I could get close to him."

    Edgar Davids : ""Every one of us (midfielders) is just trying to become as good as him. Everyone can learn from Paul Scholes."

    Edgar Davids : "I'm not the best, Paul Scholes is."

    Tony Adams : "I really rate Paul Scholes, because he hasn't got the high profile of many of the Manchester United players, he doesn't get too much attention, but he is one very good player. He is an intelligent player, he works hard and he scores some great goals. He is not flamboyant and is a quiet lad off the pitch but he is a tremendous asset to Manchester United and to England. He has already got my vote as player of the year."

    Cesc Fabregas : "He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League."

    Patrick Vieira : "The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy - Scholes."

    Thierry Henry : "I can't understand why Scholes has never won the player of the year award. He should have won it long ago. Maybe it's because he doesn't seek the limelight like some of the other 'stars'."

    Zinedine Zidane : "My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder."

    Zinedine Zidane : "Scholes is undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation."

    Sam Allardyce : "There is not a better midfield player in the world."

    Kevin Keegan : "What United have got that Chelsea haven't is Paul Scholes. I think he is different to anything else in English football."

    Marcello Lippi : "Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team - that goes to show how highly I have always rated him. Scholes is a player I have always liked, because he combines great talent and technical ability with mobility, determination and a superb shot. He is an all-round midfielder who possesses character and quality in abundance. In my opinion, he's been one of the most important players for United under Sir Alex."

    Ray Wilkins : "I'm saddened because I think we as spectators, not only in this country but right through out Europe and the rest of the World, will be missing one hell of a footballer."

    Gordon Strachan : "Paul Scholes has been the best England midfield player for 30-odd years. You'd probably have to go back to Bobby Charlton to find someone who could do as much as Scholes. When the ball arrives at his feet he could tell you where every player on that pitch is at that moment. His awareness is superb."

    Veron while at Chelsea being asked in an interview who's the best english player : "Paul Scholes."

    Peter Schmeichel : "People say he is a great player, but you have to define what a great player is, For me, it is a player who has a bottom level that means his worst performance is not noticed.If he is having a bad game, a team-mate might feel Paul Scholes is not quite on his game, but a spectator wouldn't notice. Scholes, of all the players I have played with, has the highest bottom level. His reading of the game is unsurpassed.He has an eye for a pass, for what the play or the game needs at that precise moment, that I have never seen anyone else have. He controls and distributes the play and the game better than anyone I have ever seen."

    Peter Schmeichel : "Still the best player in that United midfield."

    Laurent Blanc : "Scholes is the best English player. Intelligence, technique, strength... all the attributes are there. At Manchester United I saw what he could do on the training field. Phew!"

    Michael Carrick : "Paul Scholes is just fantastic. When you play alongside him, you realise what a special talent he is."

    Michael Carrick : "He is a legend and he's going to be remembered for a long time. Just to play alongside him and learn from him has been an absolute pleasure. I think he is a footballer's footballer; he has been at this level for so long. As long as he is part of us we always feel we have a chance. We appreciate the way he goes about his business. I have never met a character like Scholesy; certainly not someone who is that good."

    Park Ji Sung when asked by the club’s official home page which United player he would like to see in the red shirt of the Taeguk Warriors : “It has to be Paul Scholes.”

    David Beckham said that, among his teammates at Real Madrid, which included Zinedine Zidane, Raúl, Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Roberto Carlos, Scholes was the most admired opponent : "He's always one of those people others talk about. Even playing at Real Madrid, the players always say to me 'what's he like'? They respect him as a footballer, and to have that respect from some of those players is great."

    Brian Kidd : "Paul Scholes had the best football brain I'd ever seen in a kid. Let's face it. Paul Scholes is in a class of its own."

    Rio Ferdinand : "I can honestly say Paul is the best player in the England squad. For me he is the complete player."

    Rio Ferdinand : "For me, it's Paul Scholes. He'll do ridiculous things in training like say, "You see that tree over there?" - it'll be 40 yards away - "I'm going to hit it". And he'll do it. Everyone at the club considers him the best."

    Phil Neville : "Paul, for me, is the best player in the England team. It worries teams. Speak to any other international team and they will single Paul out as England's key player. For me, he doesn't get the full credit that he deserves. He is a world-class player and deserves to be up there with the likes of Zidane and Figo."

    Gary Neville : "I wouldn't swap Paul Scholes for anybody. He is quite simply the most complete footballer I have ever played with. He is the best."

    Gary Neville : "Paul Scholes is the best player I've ever played with. There's talent in every part of his game."

    Steve Bruce : "He's the best player in Britain in my opinion and he has to get himself fit just before we are due to play at Old Trafford. I cannot pay Paul a bigger compliment than to say that he's the most complete footballer in the country. The best bar none."

    Roy Keane : "An amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being."

    George Best : "To be honest I think England have lost their best player. Certainly he's the most consistent and naturally gifted player we've had for a long, long time."

    Sir Bobby Charlton : "I am sorry for England because they don't have any player like him. You can talk about others but there is no one else like him. He is the best technical player England has without any question. He could have had a lot more caps if he had carried on. And if I was the manager he would have ended up with more than I did – easy"

    Sir Bobby Charlton : "He’s always so in control and pinpoint accurate with his passing – a beautiful player to watch."

    Sir Bobby Charlton : "Paul Scholes is my favourite player. He epitomises the spirit of Manchester United and everything that is good about football."

    Sir Alex Ferguson : "Very few players can do that, but Scholes is one of them - and I knew he was one of them. That's why, without question, I think Paul Scholes is the best player in England. He's got the best skills, the best brain. No one can match him."

    Sir Alex Ferguson : "He has an awareness of what’s happening around him on the edge of the box which is better than most players. As a kid he always had a knack of arriving in the penalty area just at the right time, but he’s proving just as effective from outside the box because he’s using his experience in the right way. It doesn’t matter who I am thinking about bringing into my midfield, Paul Scholes will be included, as he would in any side in the world."

    Sir Alex Ferguson : Sir Alex Ferguson gave evidence in court on behalf of one of his former trainees and listened to the prosecution barrister's list of United's top players.

    "You've missed Paul Scholes - and he's my best player," Ferguson chided her.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    #32 Not to mention everybody raving about Scholes, that 35 year old will NOT keep that up all season, he never has done. But it does prove age has no bearing on how you perform, and that calling Chelsea OAPs will have no effect when they win the league again
    -------------------------

    I think you'll find that Paul Scholes has in fact kept up that level of form for several seasons from about 1998 - 2007. Yes he may play less games than he did but like Giggs he is extremely effective and will still play a big role in Utd's (hopefully) 19th Title winning season this year

    As for not caring about the Community Shield a trophy is a trophy and Chelsea's fans were certainly excited enough about it last time they won it.

  • Comment number 43.

    FedupwithGovt

    No, but you are a Liverpool fan, so perhaps we'll take your objections with a pinch of salt, if that's alright.

  • Comment number 44.

    And the team was missing 2/3 out of the 1st choice back 4
    ---------------
    2/3? so they were missing 2.66 of them? How difficult is it to realis that out of four you can only be missing 1/4, 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4?

  • Comment number 45.

    43. At 10:19am on 09 Aug 2010, kanchelskis_legend wrote:
    FedupwithGovt

    No, but you are a Liverpool fan, so perhaps we'll take your objections with a pinch of salt, if that's alright.

    ==============================================

    Yeah, just looking forward to the season without poor journalists who know nothing trying to big us up. The 'top four' can have all the attention as far as I'm concerned - suits me. I will be happy just watching Hodgson quietly building up a team the fat spanish waiter could only dream about.

    PS - as much salt as you want :)

  • Comment number 46.

    hackerjack

    He means 2 OR 3. I would have thought that was fairly obvious.


    FedupwithGovt

    You're a Rafa detractor. Sensible man. :)

  • Comment number 47.

    46:

    After watching the pool for 45 years you have to have a bit of common sense. That's why I think this is daft blog. I think it's going to be a tight league this year, no one will run away with it.

  • Comment number 48.

    At the moment , if I was asked to name the team who I thought would win the Premiership, it would be Man Utd.

    Man Utd have greater strength in depth.

    Put it this way, all yesterday proved is that Chelsea are weaker without Petr Cech and that their back four are not functioning very well at the moment. For me John Terry has lost his aura of invincibility for the last 6-8 months now. He is getting caught out of position more often now.

    Paul Scholes is playing as well now as he did ten - twelve years ago. Now how many players can you say the same about them?

  • Comment number 49.

    2/3? so they were missing 2.66 of them? How difficult is it to realis that out of four you can only be missing 1/4, 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4?

    -----------------------------------------

    Oh you silly silly person. He meant 2 or 3 NOT 2 thirds!!

  • Comment number 50.

    FedupwithGovt

    You're a Rafa detractor. Sensible man. :)
    --------------------

    But I liked it when Rafa was in charge at Liverpool (especially last season)

  • Comment number 51.

    Can anyone recommend somewhere that I can get a measured approach to stories rather than an article and reaction such as this which suggests that agenda's are at work rather than objective journalism?

  • Comment number 52.

    Hernadez had 2 shots.
    One went out for a throw and the 2nd he managed to hit himself in the face with the goal gapping.

    Liverpool will not be a threat.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think you will find players such as Davids, Seedorf, Vieira, Zidane et al all rate Scholes as the best and most complete midfielder of his generation. Still dont let blind and bitter hatred sway your opinion will you?
    ****************************

    I don't think I will find that as it's just OT spin.
    None of them said such a thing.Indeed it's well documented Zidane said Gerrard was the best.

  • Comment number 54.

    51. At 11:01am on 09 Aug 2010, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    Can anyone recommend somewhere that I can get a measured approach to stories rather than an article and reaction such as this which suggests that agenda's are at work rather than objective journalism?

    www.adampsb.blogspot.com

    It also links to Robbo's

  • Comment number 55.

    53. At 11:13am on 09 Aug 2010, Malouda Rocks wrote:
    I think you will find players such as Davids, Seedorf, Vieira, Zidane et al all rate Scholes as the best and most complete midfielder of his generation. Still dont let blind and bitter hatred sway your opinion will you?
    ****************************

    I don't think I will find that as it's just OT spin.
    None of them said such a thing.Indeed it's well documented Zidane said Gerrard was the best.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If it well documented, find some quotes. Have a look at post #40. i think thatl tell you all you need to know about the esteme scholes is held in by fellow professionals.

  • Comment number 56.

    I don't think I will find that as it's just OT spin.
    None of them said such a thing.Indeed it's well documented Zidane said Gerrard was the best.

    -------------------------------------------

    Actually, you will if you cared to do your research.

    Zidane called Gerrard "the best in world" (i.e. 'currently' the best) about 2 years ago immediately after Liverpool beat Real Madrid 4-0.

    Before that however, he had declared that Paul Scholes was "the best midfielder of his generation.." AND "[Zidane's] toughest opponent...".

    It isn't OT spin - Zidane said these things. And bearing in mind that Zidane was probably the best attacking player of that generation (and that he played with/against players like Deschamps, Vieira, Davids, Keane, Seedorf etc.), it is truly lofty praise of Scholes' ability as a footballer.

    Just deal with it and stop living in denial.

  • Comment number 57.

    I thought it was a good game of football in general, and that is what it used to be an advert for the new season, it is a now a meaningless game but United played with confidence even if under the cosh for periods, Scholes is a magnificent footballer but won't be given that amount of time on the ball in every game, as long as Fergie manages his legs well he will get through this season.
    We all know what a pro he is and he will know (or his body will tell him) when its time to pack in

  • Comment number 58.

    United have some marvellous players - that's for sure and I predict a more successful season. Lets hope Chicarito fulfills his full potential because we sorely missed a top class finisher like him last season.

  • Comment number 59.

    54 PetShopBoys_Forever

    Thanks. (Out of date though.) I know the name from Robbo blogs.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ah, I remember the days when the Charity Shield was a bit-of-fun, nice-to-win, slightly glorified friendly. It seems, in recent years, to have morphed into the 'First piece of silverware of the season' and some kind of barometer for the season ahead( something to do with SKY turning the hype machine up to max, perhaps ?! )
    A few years back ( 1998 to be precise )I recall Arsenal administering a right good thumping to Manyoo, which had the 'experts' in a tizzy about where this would leave Siralex for the season ahead ... er, with the Premier League title, the FA Cup, and the Champion's League, that's where.

    Basically, it counts for nowt apart from some very minor and very temporary bragging rights. As mentioned above, on any given day any team can get a result against any other ... it's maintaining form for an entire 38 game season that's the real test.

    That said, Berbatov's goal was something special.

    :-)

  • Comment number 61.

    So in fact the reality check only lasted 90 minutes.....

    After a summer where surely the lack of talent English players possess was shown to the whole world, we now have the Premier league just about to start. Already there is a debate whether Scholes or Gerrard is the best player in the world! I dare say Rooney will score a tap in soon and be the best striker in the world again! doubtless Ferdinand or Terry will be due a contract renewal soon and their agent will start the 'he is the best defender in the world' hype!

    Obviously it is already widely accepted that Ashley Cole is the best left back in the world! because in a (losing) English effort he once had a good game against Ronaldo!

    A sobering note to end with....

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • Comment number 62.

    Mr BB I can only write a blog once every 10 days or so just due to timing. Have you looked at Robbo's new blog yet?

  • Comment number 63.

    52. At 11:11am on 09 Aug 2010, Malouda Rocks wrote:
    Hernadez had 2 shots.
    One went out for a throw and the 2nd he managed to hit himself in the face with the goal gapping.

    Liverpool will not be a threat.

    ====================================

    Who said Liverpool would be a threat? It suits me fine to be written off at the start of the season. It's certainly better than being bigged up. I'm not interested in what the other teams do. Let's see what happens in the next few months. Predicting how the season will pan out after one meaningless friendly is the stuff of fools.

  • Comment number 64.

    #62 PetShopBoys_Forever

    Fair enough mate.

    I've had a gander at Robbo's blog since he was inexplicably removed from here. Still pretty good. I never posted that much on his blog on here (some of the posts got a bit silly I thought) but I certainly enjoyed reading it.

    I shall look out for your update.

    Why the new name on here then? Been a naughty boy?

  • Comment number 65.

    At least both sets of supporters didnt have far to travel yesterday.

  • Comment number 66.

    65. At 1:19pm on 09 Aug 2010, Fivenil wrote:
    At least both sets of supporters didnt have far to travel yesterday.

    ======================================

    Ha, ha! Nice one!

  • Comment number 67.

    66. At 1:21pm on 09 Aug 2010, FedupwithGovt wrote:
    65. At 1:19pm on 09 Aug 2010, Fivenil wrote:
    At least both sets of supporters didnt have far to travel yesterday.

    ======================================

    Ha, ha! Nice one!


    __________________________________________________________________

    Haha! Yeh! Nice one!

    I think you're the first person to make that joke!

    Hahahaa! Genius!

  • Comment number 68.

    Slighlty off topic, but shocked to say I've just seen a copy of an agreement between the BBC and ManU re: image rights.

    Naughty BBC. Very naughty.


  • Comment number 69.

    61. At 12:32pm on 09 Aug 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    So in fact the reality check only lasted 90 minutes.....

    After a summer where surely the lack of talent English players possess was shown to the whole world, we now have the Premier league just about to start. Already there is a debate whether Scholes or Gerrard is the best player in the world! I dare say Rooney will score a tap in soon and be the best striker in the world again! doubtless Ferdinand or Terry will be due a contract renewal soon and their agent will start the 'he is the best defender in the world' hype!

    Obviously it is already widely accepted that Ashley Cole is the best left back in the world! because in a (losing) English effort he once had a good game against Ronaldo!

    A sobering note to end with....

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
    ----------------------------------------------

    these players are all top players in top teams in one of the best leagues in the world. apart from last season the big 4 have been among the most successful teams in europe in the last few years and part of that is down to the english players, who are the major stars at their clubs

  • Comment number 70.

    p.s. John Terry was caught flatfooted, out of position so often, and his defending for Berbatov's goal was a joke.

    He is in for a long season, where hopefully people will finally recognise his "ability" is a media invention

  • Comment number 71.

    Chelsea had a lot more players at the world cup than man utd. I think Chelsea had 14 utd had 5. That does make a big difference... Valencia looked fit and even when a player is injured they can still have a much higher level of fitness whilst recovering. The majority of the Chelsea players were at the world cup compared to uniteds Rooney, Hernandez, nani, van der sar? I can't think of too many more. Chelsea only has sturridge benayoun bruma hilario zhirkov not at the world cup. It makes a big difference. Chelsea need more time to get fully fit but I think they will struggle through there first games

  • Comment number 72.

    gives them confidence for when they play the bigger teams this season but not alot else.

    chelsea looked really poor at the back though. especially ashley cole. hopefully they'll be poor throughout the season allowing arsenal a better chance of winning the thing.

    my predos

    chelsea
    united
    city
    arsenal
    liverpool
    spurs
    everton
    villa

  • Comment number 73.

    71. At 2:02pm on 09 Aug 2010, Super_Frank wrote:
    Chelsea had a lot more players at the world cup than man utd. I think Chelsea had 14 utd had 5. That does make a big difference... Valencia looked fit and even when a player is injured they can still have a much higher level of fitness whilst recovering. The majority of the Chelsea players were at the world cup compared to uniteds Rooney, Hernandez, nani, van der sar? I can't think of too many more. Chelsea only has sturridge benayoun bruma hilario zhirkov not at the world cup. It makes a big difference. Chelsea need more time to get fully fit but I think they will struggle through there first games
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Firstly Van der Sar was not at the WC, he retired from international football a couple of years ago. the united players at the world cup were: WR, MC, Rio, Nani, Park, vidic. Nani and Rio missed the tournament through injury. Michael Owen and Tony V also had to recover from injuries through the summer and missed the pre-season tour. All of the players listed here have played 45mins against a league of ireland XI (vidic may have hade 60odd mins) in preseason and hence all started yesterday to gain match fitness.

  • Comment number 74.

    Sorry, i missed out chicharito who you quite rightly said was at the WC.

  • Comment number 75.

    @69 I see that the sky/agents/premier league propaganda machine has hooked you in!

    So if all these English players are so good, and the major stars at their clubs...... how come England have never even come close to winning anything in the last ten years?

    The English players are protected by superior foreign players at their clubs. Mascherano, Lucas (previously Alonso) protect Gerrard and allow him to play without responsibility. Essien, Mikel and Ballack did/do the same job for Lampard at Chelsea. Terry and Ferdinand are both covered by superior and less hyped partners (Vidic and Carvalho).





  • Comment number 76.

    Great start for United, Chicharito's goal was pure comedy and the pass that led to the pass that led to the goal from Scholes was sublime!

    Sign up Ozil and we'll be flying!

  • Comment number 77.

    The English players are protected by superior foreign players at their clubs. Mascherano, Lucas (previously Alonso) protect Gerrard and allow him to play without responsibility. Essien, Mikel and Ballack did/do the same job for Lampard at Chelsea. Terry and Ferdinand are both covered by superior and less hyped partners (Vidic and Carvalho).

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Superior foreign players--Lucas! You have just won the prize, never before have those terms been used in the same sentence before!

  • Comment number 78.

    72. At 2:06pm on 09 Aug 2010, Keelan wrote:
    gives them confidence for when they play the bigger teams this season but not alot else.

    chelsea looked really poor at the back though. especially ashley cole. hopefully they'll be poor throughout the season allowing arsenal a better chance of winning the thing.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Are you trying to make a funny?

  • Comment number 79.

    Bravo to the Red Army!
    The community Shield may be a silverware of little or no value, but winnign it yesterday, I think, was very important for the team and the fans.
    You have to look back over the years to reason with me. I don't remember how far back, but for the past four to five seasons, I don't remember a team losing the Community Shield and winning the Premiership. That's one reason I told people that we (Man Utd) would not win the Premiership last season.
    Maybe there is some magic or charm about losing the Shield that portends a terribly disappointing Premiership season. You may think I'm being superstitious, but by and large, norms tend to establish themselves where history consistently repeats itself. Winning the Shield does not guarantee winning the Premiership, but losing it is almost certainly an ominous sign to losing the Premiership, judgung from history over the past few years.
    That's why the team and the fans should be excited about yesterday's win. For me it is a sign of a terrifically euphoric season to come.

  • Comment number 80.

    The English players are protected by superior foreign players at their clubs. Mascherano, Lucas (previously Alonso) protect Gerrard and allow him to play without responsibility. Essien, Mikel and Ballack did/do the same job for Lampard at Chelsea. Terry and Ferdinand are both covered by superior and less hyped partners (Vidic and Carvalho).
    -----------------------------------------------
    do you actually watch football? Apart from last season, Gerrard controlled midfield in lots of games he played, and was instrumental in Liverpools recent cup successes. Lampard is the best goal-scoring midfield in the world right now, as backed up by his goal scoring records. Rooney was one of the star players in the league last year and narrowly missed out on the golden boot.

  • Comment number 81.

    Now then,

    Many thanks for your thoughts and comments so far. Always tricky working out exactly how much emphasis to put on the result of what is, pretty much, a beefed up pre-season friendly.

    bazza001 (post 7) - I agree that the new pitch looked like a vast improvement, playing pretty well. Apparently the weave of artificial fibres and grass has been a success at numerous other grounds.

    Carefreecooors (post 9) - You're right, Daniel Sturridge did look pretty sharp. It will be interesting to see how much of a chance he is given this season with Chelsea supposedly expressing a willingness to promote their young talent. Chelsea were clearly below par on Sunday - but he has had a full pre-season (as far as I am aware) and looked sharp.

    ChelseaSUFC (post 29) - Sorry you feel that way. A discussion of the plus points was always going to focus on Utd. Are you in any way concerned about the form/attitude/focus of Ashley Cole?

  • Comment number 82.

    Paul Fletcher, you genius!

    "A discussion of the plus points was always going to focus on Utd."


    Told!

  • Comment number 83.

    ....You have to look back over the years to reason with me. I don't remember how far back, but for the past four to five seasons, I don't remember a team losing the Community Shield and winning the Premiership. That's one reason I told people that we (Man Utd) would not win the Premiership last season....

    ------------------------------

    Listen, the statistic may well be correct that the winner of CS tend to go on to win the title, but it really is silly to believe that the two events are actually connected in any way.

  • Comment number 84.

    The chelsea team are very experienced, pre season friendly s wont affect the team moral , chelsea had a run of bad defeats , got knocked out of the champions league , drew to blackburn , but then went on to beat united and win the double. If anything loseing pre season games is the kick the team needs, chelsea are a team that fire back from defeat just like any top side.

    The win yesterday was more important for united than it was chelsea , becuse last season chelsea just completely dominated the sky four in all there head to head games.

  • Comment number 85.

    84. At 2:59pm on 09 Aug 2010, Malouda wrote:

    becuse last season chelsea just completely dominated the sky four in all there head to head games.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Old Trafford?

  • Comment number 86.

    Scholes is still a masterclass, but i feel bringing in a player like Ozil, who's 21 and with only one year left on his contract would make it certainly easier and possibly cheaper to try and bring him in, in which he can then learn from the likes of Scholes before he does retire. Our team is looking great, with a thorough range of experience and youth prospects and i think Ozil could fit into both of those categories and slot into the united team well.

  • Comment number 87.

    JamTay1 wrote:
    So in fact the reality check only lasted 90 minutes.....

    And it only took 90 mins for the bitter comments and trolling from the other 'home nations' to start. There's enough to be depressed about in this country, why can't people get excited about their teams and players? It's the same all over the world, I know many supporters of countries like Ghana/SA who genuinely believed they would make the WC final. That's football, and I certainly wasn't going to dampen their enthusiasm.

    Hope you manage to find some enjoyment in the season, unless the SPL is more to your taste.

  • Comment number 88.

    Looking at all those quotes about Scholes - all that talent and he bottled it compeltely when his country needed him.

    Yeah, real class act.

  • Comment number 89.

    CousinKev

    How about you take the scouse-specs off and look at it objectively.

    The man's 35 for God's sake. If Carragher got the call in 3 years' time, would you expect him to say yes?

  • Comment number 90.

    Not talking about this year, but many moons ago when he decided to 'retire' (which actually was, "I have to play on the left, no way!).

    He is a great player though hardly the most 'complete' midfielder. The man can't tackle to save his life (and he never wanted to learn either). Had he played for another team, he would have finished far less games on the pitch.

  • Comment number 91.

    What about Carragher's first 'retirement', which was a case of "I have to play at right-back, no way". What's the difference?

    Everyone knows he can't tackle. It's futher testament to him that in spite of this he is widely regarded as one of the finest midfielders of his generation.

    Oh yeh, I forgot the FA were in United's pocket. How right you are. Don't I look silly for forgetting that?

    Yep. It's definitely not you that looks idiotic for reminding me of that. Thanks.

  • Comment number 92.

    CousinKev, Scholes is the greatest English midfielder of his generation

  • Comment number 93.

    @87 I'm English!!!!! So you can't blame the Scots, Irish or Welsh for my comments! I just prefer to be realistic about some of the 'talent' on display......

  • Comment number 94.

    Having seen the game on Sunday suggested to me that Chelsea, with key players missing or not match fit, will only improve. I cannot see Man U being any better than they are, which is similar to last season. A double to Chelsea last season and I cannot see that position changing this season.

  • Comment number 95.

    Bob Taylor

    Ferdinand, Evra, Rafael, Hargreaves, Anderson all played no part, and Rooney only played a half.

    I really don't think your argument holds up.

    Sorry.

  • Comment number 96.

    One addition to my last posting, if Scholes continues to dangerously mistime his tackles then Man U should look urgently for a replacement. He should have been given a red!!!!

  • Comment number 97.

    Bob Taylor

    Just read your second post saying Scholes should have been sent off.

    I now realise you don't know very much about football, so it was unfair for me to take your first post too seriously.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    CousinKev

    Amazing! You know what I look like from my posts. What a talent!

    Either that or you're stalking me.

  • Comment number 100.

    Bob you are entitled to your opinion as are we all. Not sure who you support mate but im guessing one of chelsea, arsenal, liverpool or maybe city. il bet that most, the vast majority in fact, of the fans of all of those teams would like to have had the services of paul scholes over the last 16yrs or so. Thats my opinion anyway.

 

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