Manchester, Thursday @PeopleSports11
It’s seven years since Gary Neville related that his friend Paul Scholes ‘thinks football’s a simple game complicated by idiots’ but never has the disclosure seemed more appropriate.
Neville was describing Scholes’ aversion to tactics and formations but the same words sum up his feelings for Jose Mourinho, whom he machine-guns on a near weekly basis at the club they left behind.
“We could sign Lionel Messi at the moment and he’d struggle in this team,” was one of Scholes’ latest pieces of gold dust. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
Some of those who shared a dressing room with Scholes are surprised. “He was so quiet as a player. He hardly did any press,” says David Seaman, an England team-mate for seven years.
Yet those who really know him never did buy the homespun myth about Scholes, the asthmatic lad from Oldham, nicknamed ‘Archie’, who stood 4ft 8in tall when Sir Alex Ferguson first saw him.
“I still don’t fall for the boy-next-door image, or that he’s dead humble. Everyone thinks he lives in a council flat,” Roy Keane said of Scholes a few years back and he wasn’t just talking about his former team-mate’s favourite trick of smacking a ball into the back of team-mates’ heads from 40 yards.
Those who played against Scholes describe what Arsene Wenger once summed up as a ‘dark side’, much to Ferguson’s irritation. “He’d leave a foot in even when there was nothing on it, just testing you,” says one player who went up against him. Jamie Redknapp describes the same.
Ferguson’s autobiography is littered with descriptions of Scholes red cards. And, in the words of another who knows him well, Scholes ‘talks like he tackles’.
Scholes has become Mourinho’s nightmare incarnate, a legend who regularly eviscerates him and yet, because of his status, is untouchable. -DAILYMAIL