With no football to enjoy over the past few months, it’s been a time of reflection for a lot of football fans, and one man who has been talked about a lot is Paul Scholes.
Curtis Woodhouse had the guts to go out on a limb and publicly discredit the former Man United man, and that led to a lot of angry Red Devils supporters hitting back, with some making unbelievable claims about Scholes being one of the best to ever play the game.
Ever since his retirement, people have spoken about Scholes as if he is some sort of footballing demi-god, who could never misplace a pass and apparently there’s no doubt that he’s amongst the best Premier League midfielders ever.
Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
Scholes was by no means a bad player, his trophy haul is outstanding, and he was a decent midfielder, but he was never at that elite level that people now claim he was.
If Scholes was indeed one of the best midfielders of all time, why did he never even win his own club’s Player of the Year award?
Ok, Manchester United have had a lot of remarkable talent over the years, but when players like Gabriel Heinze and Javier Hernandez are able to work their way onto that roll of honour, you have to question why this supposed all-time great, was never even considered the best player on his own team.
It’s not just his own club that didn’t recognise him. The former Oldham Athletic manager never received a single Ballon D’or vote in his entire career, and during Scholes’ pomp it didn’t take much to get a Ballon D’or vote with the likes of Nihat Kahveci, Jamie Carragher, Papa Bouba Diop and El Hadji Diouf all getting at least one vote from 2002 to 2005.
The Ballon D’or isn’t the be-all and end-all either, but there is a third metric you can look at that shows Scholes just wasn’t all that during his playing days.
He made just two PFA Team of the Years during his career, a record he shares with the likes of Dele Alli, David Batty, Ashley Young, Danny Rose and Stephen Carr, but nobody is claiming any of the above players as all-time greats.
Many of the arguments you hear about Scholes’ greatness always lead back to what other players said about him, with Xavi giving him a fair bit of praise a few years ago and Zinedine Zidane also admiring him, but former pro’s opinions should always be taken with a pinch of salt.
Arguably the greatest player of all time, Pele, would have had you believe that Nicky Barmby was on a par with Paolo Maldini, and it wasn’t too long ago that Eric Cantona was trying to tell us that Javier Pastore was a better player than Lionel Messi, so it’s not too wild to believe that these greats of the game are quite simply wrong about Scholes’ brilliance.
The reality is that at some point it became so fashionable to call Scholes underrated that he actually became one of the most overrated players in Premier League history.