In the Summer, Sir Alex Ferguson has a mountainous decision to make. Does he offer the perennial Paul Scholes another 1 year contract, or does he look to find a replacement for the pass master?
Many have said that the reason why Manchester United has been so successful this year is due to the resigning of the midfield maestro, and it would be hard to argue with them.
In the previous match against Queens Park Rangers, Scholes was on the pitch for 74 minutes. Within that time, he attempted to play 120 passes, of which 114 reached their intended recipient (a 95% success rate). But, it’s not just passing where Scholes has excelled since returning to Carrington. Scholes created 5 chances from open play and scored 1. In contrast to Michael Carrick, who essentially played as in the same role as Paul Sholes in the game, he attempted 135 passes, of which only 119 landed at their intended target (an 88% success rate in 90 minutes). He also created 1 chance, whereby a rasping shot has left the crossbar at Old Trafford still shaking!
The stats with and without Scholes in the team also make for interesting reading, the most notable is that they have won 11 games with Scholes in the team compared to 8 without him in the team. They have also scored 1 more goal in the past 12 games (25 in total), compared to the 24 without Scholes in the team. However, it is not only the margin, but the manner of the victories that have been so impressive. They have been in total control of the games and never looked like losing. At one point in the game against QPR in the first half, United had over 90% possession, a figure usually reserved for teams such as Barcelona.
How does Scholes fair when compared to other players within the division at the top clubs in the same position? Let’s take a look at the figures showing players from Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspurs & Chelsea.
Since re-joining in January, Scholes has played 813 passes, and has only conceded possession 5 times. His pass rate is 92.37%, a whole 2.65% better than his nearest challenger Yaya Toure of Man City. He also leads the way in the number of minutes it takes to concede possession – 154 minutes (that’s the equivalent of once every 1.7 games).
From the above statistics, the problem for Sir Alex is vast, does he stick with what he has, knowing that eventually Paul Scholes will have to hang up his boots one last time, in the hope that Paul Pogba will come good in the near future, or does he twist and buy someone that will be able to provide the same quality that Scholes has for many years – a talent that will cost considerable money. Possible candidates would be Marik Hamesk, Javi Martinez, Luka Modric, Nuri Sahin, Chrisitan Eriksen & Kevin Strootman.
The answer to the question can only be answered by 1 man – And that man keeps his cards very close to his chest. Only time will tell, but everyone will soon see how Sir Alex tries to replace the irreplaceable.
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