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Scholes’ Injury is a Blessing

Paul ScholesYou wouldn’t get that usually in a United site. Especially when someone, of the stature of Paul Scholes, faces the grim prospect of being out of the side for a good month. Not to mention the time he will surely take to get back into his stride, coming back from the long layoff.

Make no mistake, this would have been seen as terrible news had it been last year. But this year, you couldn’t have asked for a better blessing than this.

To stop myself from sounding retarded, by beating around the bush, allow me to explain.

When SAF bought Owen Hargreaves after a protracted saga of over a year, he certainly had plans in mind for the long run. The general belief is that as Scholes is ‘phased’ out of the squad, the midfield engine room will be increasingly dependent on Michael Carrick and Hargreaves to provide for the fuel. Ideally, if we take the Roma situation as a classic example, our 4-2-3-1 formation of the future will have Carrick and Hargreaves playing deep lying midfielders, with Ronaldo, Rooney, Nani and Tevez as our front four, who will interchange, making it extremely difficult for opposition defenders to mark us. Anderson of course will also figure in the front four, although, at the moment, it will really be a toss up between Nani and him. (We haven’t seen much of either.)

Yes, Anderson has been tipped to be the replacement for Paul Scholes, as the player capable of playing in the ‘hole’, but that is unlikely given Rooney or Tevez might be doing that job in the foreseeable future. There is the possibility – given Anderson’s age and ability to play on the left side of the park, as he as admitted that he loves playing left back – that he might be converted to a winger who could also rotate and play across the park. But for the moment, let’s leave Anderson for later and concentrate on the present.

The presence of Scholes, Carrick and Hargreaves provides SAF with options aplenty. He might be tempted, for example, to play all three, but sacrifice one out of his hugely talented flair players on the front. Or he might bench one of the three midfielders available to him for more flair. While we may be tempted to conclude that 4-3-3 will be for Europe and 4-2-3-1 for the League, I am willing to bet the manager to be in some kind of a happy dilemma as to decide the best formation for the game.

Last season, when everyone was fit, our first XI pretty much picked itself. This time, Fergie must tread the thin line of being able to rotate players without disturbing the rhythm too much as to break a ‘winning combination’. In short, he shouldn’t pull a Rafa. So here’s where Scholes’ injury comes in handy. He wouldn’t have to make a decision on who to pick in his central midfield. Hargreaves and Carrick will start (in what I expect to be a fluid 4-2-3-1).

Hopefully Hargreaves should be fit to play in the game against Inter. If not he should be at least able to get valuable minutes in the clutch of games we will be playing between 3rd and 8th of August. (That’s 4 games in six days, to be precise, which also includes the Community shield game against Chelsea.)

SAF will be hoping that these games would help him settle into a good understanding with Carrick – in time for the new season – so that we have a reasonably settled midfield that can go on and build from the first game till the end of August. After which, Scholes will be back to take over the reigns, just to ease up things for our lads.

The fact that Fergie may be forced to pair Carrick and Hargreaves straightaway excites me because, while it may be a bold move, it is a moment the manager and fans have been waiting for, in a long while – the final solution to our midfield conundrum that will eventually fill the void left by the illustrious duo of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane.



  1. Ollie Y

    July 27, 2007 at 10:17 am

    so for the start of the season we will be playing hargreaves and carrick deep and giggs/nani on the left with hopefully tevez in the middle, if not anderson and ronaldo on the right with rooney upfront, right?
    that seems to me prety good!!!

  2. Mick

    July 27, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Hargreaves and Carrick to start?

    I wouldn’t be so sure. If Hargreaves gets any football played before the start of the season it will
    be a bonus. And don’t forget the length of the lay-off he’s had leading up to this latest problem.
    Even if he shakes off this tendonitis in double-quick time, he will be noewhere near match-fit in time
    to face Reading.

    And, for all his English links, he has never played in the Premiership. Are you seriously suggesting
    that Fergie throws him, half-fit, into a battle against one of the toughest sides in the league last
    season (and a team that always plays three in midfield) as one half of a midfield two?

    Not a hope in hell. If Fergie opts for 4-4-2, it will be Carrick and (oh yes) Darren Fletcher who start
    the game (both of whom have impressed already in pre-season). If Fergie opts for 3 in midfield it will
    be a toss-up between Hargreaves and O’Shea to sit in front of the back 4.

    Mark my words, Hargreaves still has a bit to prove and will be eased into the team, not chucked in off
    the deep end.

  3. gubby

    July 27, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Beckham, Keane, Scholes & Giggs

    Now reads.

    Ronaldo, Hargreaves, Carrick, Nani

    Who from the latter would displace the former.

    I still believe Scholes & Giggs will play a major role this season.

  4. David N

    July 27, 2007 at 10:56 am

    I too am looking forward to seeing Hargreaves and Carrick develop a solid and effective central pairing, primarily for Manchester United’s benefit, of course, but also for the additional delicious headache it will give Steve McClaren if these two players are really clicking around about the same time England are falling apart in Euro qualifiers.

  5. karl

    July 27, 2007 at 10:59 am

    If OH is fit, I’m pretty sure SAF will start him off by playing 3 in midfield. That is OH, Carrick and Fletcher.
    Rooney, Giggs and Ronaldo will be the forwards. O’shea, Nani subs.

  6. Red Ranter

    July 27, 2007 at 11:08 am

    4-3-3 would be very defensive IMO. Rooney still doesn’t convince me when he plays on his own upfront.
    Fair point about Hargreaves’ fitness, but SAF was quoted as saying that Hargreaves’ condition is more of an irritant than a serious injury. And when you throw 17 mills on a defender, you will throw him in sooner than later. He’ll probably get a substitute appearance in his first league game and then will be started as soon as possible. Of course, if he doesn’t get fit in time (and doesn’t get pre-season games) then it will be hard to expect him to play straightaway.

  7. Ollie Y

    July 27, 2007 at 11:13 am

    this could all change if we get carlos tevez cause we could altimately go for a attacking 4-4-2 formation with OH and carrick in the centre and giggs and ronaldo on the wing with nani coming on at half time for giggs

  8. Phanutd

    July 27, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Am just bored about TEVEZ story, Ollie Y
    Y, lets 4get the tevez story cz its
    in court and could drag, maybe till
    jan. Fergie will throw in Hargo as
    soon as he can..News on our game 2day.
    as possible

  9. dan

    July 27, 2007 at 11:35 am

    so where does anderson come in this. dont forget that SAF payed more for anderson than nani so why would anderson be the sub. and for the game against reading it will be a 4-4-2 with eagles and carrick in the centre and tevez and rooney upfront if we get him, if we dont rossi and rooney.

  10. Mick

    July 27, 2007 at 11:52 am

    “when you throw 17 mills on a defender”

    God, I hope Fergie is a bit more clued up about his best position! 😉

  11. Harry

    July 27, 2007 at 11:56 am

    I dont think giggs, ronaldo and rooney is enough on the attacking front. If saha is also not fit, i think should fergie should thrown in either nani, anderson or even rossi!

  12. Mick

    July 27, 2007 at 11:59 am

    “Rooney still doesn’t convince me when he plays on his own upfront.”

    I’m inclined to agree with you, as it happens. But SAF is convinced he can operate as a lone striker.
    In the words of the great man himself:

    “if you look at the FA Cup final against Chelsea, Wayne played up front on his own and was absolutely
    fantastic. That is where I see his future anyway and that is why I believe he can play in the same
    side as Carlos Tevez.”

  13. Red Ranter

    July 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Oh Fuck! That was a typo. I was thinking defensive midfielder but it came defender. I don’t know what happened in between :O

  14. karl

    July 27, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    My reasoning for 433 is that SAF will try to ‘protect’ OH as far as possible until he start to gel in and ‘stand his own’. If OH is exposed (before settling in), it can turn into a PR disaster seeing that he chased OH for over a year.

  15. Taehr

    July 27, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I have serious doubts over owen hargreaves.he is a great midfielder but its his injuries that are worrying.not to sure but before he joined he was injured at bayern and now he cant make his debut because of the same.hope he isnt like our french striker

  16. Anthony Payne

    July 27, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    At the moement I honestly have no idea who the front 6 will be
    against Reading or even what the formation will be. Its obvious
    that Carrick, Rooney and Ronaldo will be in the team. Apart from
    that its anybody’s guess at the moment. Consequently, the next
    couple of weeks worth of pre season friendlies is going to be
    very interesting.

  17. Phanutd

    July 27, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Guys you got to cool down, we still
    got 2 weeks to prepare, hopefully by
    then HARGO, SAHA, TEVEZ, G.N will be
    fit 2give the gaffer selction headache.

  18. Shyam

    July 27, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I think Anderson may come a little more up in the selection…He is awesome talent..creative,fast,obviously skiled than Nani.and played a bigger role than Nani at Porto..but sure Fergie will give him all season to settle down..coz he dont want another Kleberson…

  19. Paul Freeman

    July 27, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    It is hard to predict what the starting lineup will be, but not having Scholes available is still a blow whatever spin you put on it. Even if you don’t start with him, having him as an option on the bench would be a major plus. In fact, the same is true for all the players. Giggs starts and if he gets tired, bring on Nani to give the fullback something new to think about.

  20. nelson otieno

    July 27, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I think anderson will be converted into a left winger. He will add more options ones gigsy retires( long live the welsh maestro). I have to admit will still miss those pinpoint crosses from deep midfield. One may argue that carrick can do it but I still beilive that scholes has a more ‘magical touch ‘ and he has been used in that role in the past recent months. lets wait and see how united will fair on in the game against intermilan and those chelsea buffoons

  21. indianpunk

    July 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    All Goals in Zip

    Source :-

  22. Liam O'Kelly

    July 27, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    It is possible that it may be a 4-4-2 with Giggs, Carrick, Anderson, Nani. Then Rooney and Ronaldo up front. It’s a long shot but if OH is injured I think it’s the best team we can put out.

  23. Nino

    July 27, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Carrick as an attacking midfielder? I know he has an excellent range of passing, but i’m not sure if he has the intelligence and pace to make late runs and break into the box like Scholes (not that scholesy was particularly fast in the first place…)

  24. Steve from CA

    July 27, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    I don’t know if I would go so far as to to call Scholes’ knock a
    “blessing”, but it could definitely allow SAF to test some pairings
    and formations. Personally, I love the idea of pairing Carrick and
    Hargreaves. I know Carrick doesn’t have a nose for goal like Scholes,
    but his passing is second to none as is his vision. Moreover, he adds
    more height in the box on corners and his tackling is much better.
    Perhaps the biggest benefit here is that Scholes doesn’t need to be
    used as much in Europe, which means that we won’t have to worry about
    card-accumulation and suspension. It seems like the main concern over
    replacing Scholes with Carrick is the less offensive style that Carrick
    brings. But is that really a problem when you have offensive weapons like
    Rooney, Ronaldo, Nani, Anderson, Giggs, Eagles, Rossi, Solskaer, Saha
    (when they are healthy), and Tevez (if/when he comes)? We all saw
    what happened when he pushed up against Roma. I think the people who
    should really be worried are Lampard and Gerrard because if the pairing
    of Carrick and Hargreaves starts to click the way it is capable of
    doing, McClaran would be stupid not to incorporate it into the England

  25. Shera

    July 27, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    no no no to say that giggsy and scholesy wont be playin a major role this season is pitiful, i agree that they will be slowly phased out the squad but not at the speed this blog and red ranter is talkin about, nani and anderson will evuantly come in, but as sir alex has stated in 1 of his press meetings, nani was a player united wnted to sign nxt year not this year but had to because of the competition, expect there to be rotation system used quite a bit but still with scholes bein the prime central midfielder and hargreaves and carrick being rotated giggs will continue to be our nmber 1 left sided winger nx season, however because of the additions of both nani and anderson, giggsy’s and scholes’ playin time will obviously be less thn lst season

  26. Shera

    July 27, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    hargreves and carrick will still given chances to perform together and it will be more and more increasingly as the season comes to a close

  27. Shera

    July 27, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    ps i agree with steve frm ca hargreaves and carrick is a mouthwatering prospect for england

  28. Red Ranter

    July 27, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    When did I ever say that Scholes will be phased out of the squad very soon? All I was saying is that Scholes being out gives SAF a golden opportunity to see first up how the partnership of Carrick-Hargreaves grows. That’s all. Scholes does have a BIG role to play this season and so does Giggs.

    I said the partnership of Carrick and Hargreaves will eventually go some way to replace the void left by Keane and Scholes. But I didn’t say it will be done permanently this season itself.

    I see Carrick as a different type of an ‘attacking’ midfielder. More the Pirlo/Xavi type of midfielder who can link up play nicely and set up our front four (I am talking of a 4-2-3-1) We can use his vision and long range of passing to good effect. I also said Carrick and Hargreaves to be deep lying midfielders, I don’t know where you saw me mention Carrick as an attacking midfielder. So while I say Carrick and Hargreaves to be able replacements for Scholes and Keane respectively, I don’t mean in the sense of them being “like for like” replacements.

    You are right about the midfield combo (if it does well) being incorporated into England, but I am not too much of a fan of England. So I deliberately let that pass in my article 🙂

  29. Red Ranter

    July 27, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Everyone else, the reason I termed it as a ‘blessing’ is because of the strength in depth we have in our squad at the moment and the options available to Fergie to test our young uns early on. I know it may terribly backfire, but it does provide them with stern tests that – if they do succeed – would be more valuable than the occasional Carling cup run out against League two opposition.

  30. Ollie Y

    July 27, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    @steve from ca
    even if the patnership of carrick and OH does work well for united IMO it would not work so well for england as they have shit wingers and only 1 decent striker in rooney, where would all the attacking flair come from?!? both OH and carrick are defensive midfielders naturally and the reason they would work well for united is because they can spread the ball well to our attacing players: ronlado rooney giggs nani ?tevez? but this would not work in the case of england

  31. Harry

    July 28, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I think the patnership of Hargreaves and Carrick, is similiar to that of pirlo and gattuso,an engine room with every quality. I can also see us playing a similiar formation as ac milan, which is the same as barcelona too. 1 striker, 3 attacking midfielders and 2 defensive midfielders. With all the players interchangable at any time they will cause havoc.

  32. Steve from CA

    July 28, 2007 at 12:47 am

    ollie, excellent point. Truth be told, I am not an England fan as I live in the
    USA. But we still see almost all the England games on TV

  33. Steve from CA

    July 28, 2007 at 12:54 am

    sorry, there was some sort of error with that post and i didn’t finish…

    We see a lot of the english games on tv here and if Carrick/Hargreaves works the way it should,
    I would wanna see as much of those two as I could. Maybe the combination will
    work better if/when Lennon improves. But until then, I must say that it seems
    as if England is turning in the US national team due to the increasingly rigid
    style they play. For the longest time, the US has played the ugliest style of soccer
    you could imagine and its a shame that another team is beginning to follow that
    trand. I just hope we start getting more Portugal games so I don’t have to
    watch anymore USA-brand soccer from Europe.

  34. k9

    July 28, 2007 at 7:54 am

    So were now counting on injuries for a great team. Sad. Really sad.

  35. Red Ranter

    July 28, 2007 at 7:56 am

    It’s a case of moving on, my friend, or rather the opportunity it presents to us. And no, I don’t hate Scholes. 🙂

  36. k9

    July 28, 2007 at 7:59 am

    oi btw, jow do i post here?

  37. Ryan

    July 28, 2007 at 9:35 am

    I think they could work for England aswell, I can already see us lining up for next years Euro Championships with McLaren trying to copy Fergie….


    Neville Rio Terry Cole

    Hargreaves Carrick

    Lennon J.Cole Walcott


    Leave Lamps, Gerrard and Owen on the bench!

  38. Ryan

    July 28, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Going back to earlier comments, I think Carrick and Hargreaves will work well together in our engine room and compliment the way we now play football, but Scholes is still the main man in the middle of the park and I think he will play the majority of games for us this year, along with Giggs. It will be interesting to see how Nani and Anderson cope coming into the side and how long it takes them settle and get used to the English League. But I tell you what they are going to be fantastic impact subs!!

  39. Patrick

    August 5, 2007 at 1:33 am

    I hope Heinze stays – best defensive full back in the world.
    I’ve seen Anderson play – very good player. I hope he gets a fair chance and not the last 5 mins of every match. If any offer over 2.5 million comes in sell Silvestre.
    I think Carrick is way over rated. Play Scholes 2 in 3 games and Anderson 1 in 3 because Scholes is old and Anderson is a good player but not yet the finished article. Pique is full of potential – great in the air. Fletch will struggle to get games this year and Ole Gunnar will very rarely play.
    This is my #1 and #2 United teams for next year
    Gk van der Sar
    Rb Gary Neville
    Lb Gabriel Heinze
    Cb Nemanja Vidic
    Cb Rio Ferdinand
    Rm Cristiano Ronaldo
    Lm Nani
    Def Mid Owen Hargreaves
    Att Mid Paul Scholes
    Fc Carlos Tevez
    Fc Wayne Rooney
    Gk Ben Foster
    Rb John O’Shea
    Lb Patrice Evra
    Cb Wes Brown
    Cb Gerard Pique
    Rm Ji-sung Park
    Lm Ryan Giggs
    Def Mid Michael Carrick
    Def Mid Darren Fletcher
    Att Mid Anderson
    Cf Louis Saha

    United will win the title – bought well. The only challengers are Chelsea and they’re going to sell their best player Arjen Robben. Liverpool and Arsenal aren’t real contenders.
    This year we’ll challenge in Europe – we finally have skill in the middle – Anderson, Tevez.

  40. Ollie Y

    August 8, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Great news on scholes he has been named in the squad for the game against dunfermillin 2night!!!

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