Manchester United: The Five Alternative Best Things About Paul Scholes
1. Cranial Morphology. There was a lad at my school who earned himself the nickname “football head” due the remarkable roundness of his skull. After leaving, I often looked back on the Football Head Era, knowing I’d never see another human being with quite that degree of symmetry up top. And then came Paul Scholes, the roundest-headed, football-cranium’d specimen to ever grace a rain-lashed rectangle of turf. Whenever I watched him play, I’d marvel at the way his napper curved outwards slightly from behind his ears, attaining a surrealistic curve that took any skull-admirer’s breath away. From the front, it was invisible. You had to look at it in profile to see how the back and sides formed one seamless whole. It will never be forgotten.
2. Genitals. Now I don’t know about you, but if I have to run more than twenty feet, my knob retreats into my body like an agoraphobic turtle. It’s the adrenaline that does it; at least that’s what I tell myself. But when someone was quick enough to snap a glimpse of Scholesy’s tackle in that famous photo we all know and love, it became obvious this was a man blessed in ways that went beyond ball control. I know there’ll be people out there who’ll say, “yeah, but it was taken from the underside, it’s always bigger when you measure from the sack!” but they’re just haters. Given that the Ginger One is quite a little prince overall, be boasts a quite sturdy tallywhacker. Mine would have looked like a walnut whip after all that charging about and kicking and stuff.
3. The Kiss. This is one I’d love to block from my memory completely, but to do so would also mean blocking out one of United’s most hilarious victories over our scruffy blue neighbours. It was April 2010 and City were feeling confident before playing United at Eastlands. Into the 90th minute. A cross comes in and the commentator calls it, “the last throw of the dice”: Scholes caught the ball a glancing blow with his treasured swede and it crept inside the goalkeeper’s left post. United supporters erupted as City were dispatched. “Play to the whistle” was the motto and Scholesy exemplified that. Unfortunately, Gary Neville was so chuffed with his freckled friend that he felt fit to stick his tongue down Scholes’ throat as what can only be described as a blatant act of man-lust live on global television. And it’s never going to go away. Never mind.
4. Control. There’s a Youtube out there, not of Scholes’ best goals, but of his best passes. The video is actually better than his goals. Scholes’ ability to trap, deflect, flick, head and control the ball with every part of his body apart from his hands (well, sometimes his hands…) was legend. Never mind his impeccable timing when connecting with crosses and tee-ups, the man could take a 60 yard pass, stop it dead on his chest and let it bounce into the path of an advancing team mate. He could receive a ball from the left moving at speed and just stick out his boot to send it arcing inexplicably off in a totally different direction right to the feet of a teammate. There have been few men as effective in the engine room, ever, with the possible exception of Scotty from Star Trek.
5. Humility. They don’t sell Paul Scholes t-shirts with “Get up, Go to work, Play the game, Get showered, Go home” on them because Scholesy was a Big Time Charlie. Oh no, he was one of the most honest and humblest players in Premier League history. THE most, in my opinion. He even admitted that the amazing goal against Barca in the ’08 semis was a total fluke and that he miss-hit it. No wonder half their team wanted to keep his shirt after the game on Saturday. He was just a northern lad, born in Salford. But he walked with the kings.
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