Who will replace this little genius? (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Last night's match was a wonderful start to the new season. A comprehensive victory that still left SAF with some areas to improve moving forward. But how about that performance from Scholesy? Vintage. I mean can we even call it vintage if he is still doing it? Whatever fountain of youth Giggs found let's all be thankful he is sharing it with Scholes. He was maybe even better yesterday than he was in the Community Shield.
But his performance has lead to an interesting quesiton. One posed by Soccernet writer Richard Jolly. What do United do when Scholes retires? Who replaces the midfield maestro? There are certainly lots of candidates within the club from the unlikely, Anderson, to the ridiculous, Carrick. Who will United turn to after Scholes moves on to pull the strings in midfield and unlock even the stingiest of defenses? I think I know the answer. I believe I am sitting on the key to long term success at Old Trafford in the era after Scholes. An era by the way that I am NOT looking forward to. I will miss watching the genius of Scholes and Giggs when they are gone. Let's make sure we appreciate watching them this season whether they are in form or not. Cause they won't be around forever.
Now this isn't a post about how we won't be able to replace Scholes. Players come and go and this club moves on. Cantona and Keane left and were replaced or the style and structure of the team was changed. So Scholes retiring isn't the end of the world. It will be sad and I wish it never had to happen but alas that's not how the world works. But this club will cope and survive and hopefully thrive in a Scholesless future.
But back to the matter at hand. The replacement. The new Scholes. Gibson, Cleverley, Anderson, Possebon? Are any of these players the answer? I am not so sure. Maybe it will be the uber-talented Paul Pogba or the gifted Magnus Eikrem? It wouldn't surprise me if it was one of those two. It wouldn't surprise me if it was neither. So who is this mystery man I have discovered at the club currently who can replace the greatest ball playing English midfielder of his generation? One of a small handful of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history. You may want to sit down.
The answer is Wayne Rooney.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Now I know what a lot of you will be thinking. "But he is a striker!!!!!" Well if we remember correctly so was Scholes in an early incarnation. Wayne Rooney is prehaps the only player at the club that has vision and passing range that can rival Scholes. his passion for the game and determination mean he could easily adapt to a more midfield role. Imagine Rooney as an attacking midfielder alongside Fletch with a striker force of Macheda and Chicharito ahead of him as an example. Doesn't that sound nice?
How many times in a match does Wayne spread play with a wonderful cross field ball? Not as often as Scholes but that's simply a function of the positions they currently play. Rooney also has one hell of a shot from range. Something Scholes also possesses and uses rarely. But what he does do is shape to shoot before releasing a pass. Players have to respect the long range shot and defend accordingly. Scholes uses that to his advantage. Rooney is more than capable of the same. Another reason I think this would work perfectly is Rooney's imagination. That flick from a Scholes feed that Berba in yesterday, only for Berba to put his shot wide, was sublime. Rooney's touch and vision and imagination are world class. Just like Scholes.
Now I don't think this is an immediate fix. In the short term I still think Rooney helps the team by the most by being further up the pitch. But as he gets older and youngsters like Macheda and Hernandez make names for themselves a seamless transition to midfield creator could, and I think should, be in Rooney's future.