Paul Scholes it would fair to say during his illustrious playing career was probably one of the quietest players off the pitch, that English football has come to know over the last 20 years.
Over the last fortnight or so – since he retired of course – Scholes it would seem has finally spoke out about his opinions on football, which of course to Manchester United, England and football fans in general has certainly gathered a lot of interest.
First we heard Scholes praise Barcelona, then the former midfielder gave his take on the going’s on at Arsenal and how their style of play is ‘pointless’ if they continue to win nothing. Over the weekend Scholes gave his take on matters going on in the England team and how ‘selfish’ players drove him to end his international career at 29.
Speaking to the Daily Mail our former midfielder spoke about the selfishness that goes on in the England team:‘
“I wanted to be part of a team and there were individuals who were after personal glory. Instead of making a simple pass of 10 yards, they might try to smack it 80 yards to get themselves noticed.
‘Half the problem is players going into England games not caring. There is definitely an element of what Jamie [Carragher] said in his autobiography, about not being bothered about England losing. I always felt that players, especially at clubs like your Aston Villas, try to use England as a way to get to a top club. You wonder whether they are there for the right reason. I think they are very selfish people. ‘
Scholes also spoke about the differences between the England team and the highly-successful side Spain have had over the last 4-5 years:
“If you look at the Spain team now, they all seem to play for each other. There isn’t one of them who would try to do something in a game that doesn’t suit the team and the way they play. And that could happen over here with England.”
Whilst perhaps comparing us to Spain – who have the world’s best team – might seem a tad farfetched at first, there is no denying that Spain currently have one of the best ‘united’ squads in Europe. Yes it helps that their current generation of players are incredibly talented but you get the feeling that by watching their players that they enjoy success as a whole and not just as individuals.
England whether we have the talent or not, do need to aspire to be like the best teams in the world and certainly in terms of playing-style, team spirit and results, Spain at the moment are the model that all the top world sides should be striving to be like.
Just who though could Scholsey be speaking about when mentioning players smacking 80 yard passes to get themselves noticed?
Some journalists are speculating that he could be having a dig at Steven Gerrard, who due to his box-to-box role has a habit of producing long-range passes and goals when it could be easier at first glance to pass to a fellow team mate.
It might be slightly harsh to criticise Gerrard who (whether you like him or not) has become an important player for England since he became a first-choice for the nation under Sven-Goran Eriksson.
But there’s no doubt that when it came to the big-games for England over the last 4-5 years that Gerrard (as well as the whole team to be honest) did have a habit of not being able to produce when it mattered the most.
Certainly some of the team’s performacnes left little to be desired and at least to fans watching, it did look as if players were not playing to the level that they should have been.
Whether the team’s fortunes would have been different with Scholes a part of it, is something we’re never know but there’s no doubt his passing skills would have defiantly given the team a big boost.
Could Scholes be criticizing Gareth Barry perhaps? After all he played for Aston Villa and then when he did really break into the England side (two and a half years after Scholes’ England retirement) under Steve McClaren, it wasn’t too long before he wanted to leave the Midlands to boost his England career.
Barry of course is someone who splits opinions when it comes to his role for the national team, as despite the fact he’s a hard-working player there is a growing opinion that he has flattered to deceive for his country.
Some fans have suggested that he should have been discarded by England after the World Cup, but that’s a whole other arguement in itself.
It might also be harsh to suggest that players might want to make an impression for their country in order to move clubs, as in all honesty good players will attract attention from clubs if they perform well on the bigger stage regardless.
But there’s no denying the fact that players in the past have used their England career as a reason to move to clubs, we’ve all read and heard the reports of a player ‘wanting to move to make sure they play for England’ haven’t we?
Of course sometimes when players move to bigger clubs, it can go wrong and they can lose their England place and not look anywhere near the same quality of player they were before.
Shaun Wright-Phillips is the prime example for this as during his first spell at Manchester City he was one of the best talents in the Premier League and was just beginning to make strides into the England squad.
Sadly for SWP, his move to Chelsea did not see him develop to the level that he was expected to and he was left out of Eriksson’s World Cup squad in 2006 after his debut season at Stamford Bridge. Of course the winger has since been involved with England again but has never reached the ability that his potential suggested he could.
Of course it’s important that players push themselves to try and play at the highest level as all players (regardless of the money that’s in today’s’ game) want to win trophies and play to the best of their ability.
But surely it’s worth thinking for some players who have got into the England team on merit playing for a lesser club, that if they’ve been good enough to get in the squad then there’s no reason why if they continue to play well for their club that they won’t keep their place.
Whatever you make of Scholesey’s comments, they’ve certainly got the nation’s football fans speaking and that can only be a good thing. After all the way the national team have been playing under Fabio Capello, it’s nice to see people speaking about the team for a change instead of just shaking their heads in embarrassment.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87