His creativity, skills on and off the ball and ability to both pick out a pass and score key goals were mooted to be sorely missed. The question of how to replace not only Scholes, but a number of key players leaving United was raised.
The board and manager rose to the challenge with gusto, replacing Van der Sar with bright exciting keeper David De Gea, bringing in Ashley Young to provide width and spark in midfield whilst injecting the promising talent of Phil Jones into the back line.
However, as of yet, no one has been brought in to replace one of the greatest players in United history.
The fact of the matter is, no one will be able to directly replace Paul Scholes, with his conduct both on and off the pitch being something worthy of recognition, and stellar performances throughout his career at Old Trafford. The player himself preferred to stay out of the media spotlight, and when so many of his colleagues were making headlines for various indiscretions off the field, Scholes was proud to be a family man and leave the partying to the rest of the squad.
Apart from a miss timed tackle or two – and that’s putting it mildly – Scholes was the complete player, and will be hard to replicate on the field and in the dressing room. Yet as a member of Fergie’s backroom staff now, his presence around the club will remain there and he will continue to help and guide young players coming through the club.
On the field, however, United do need someone to offer that spark in the centre of midfield, and no disrespect to Anderson – who has stated he feels as though he could do the job and replace Scholes – someone of a proven calibre is needed if we do expect to compete at the highest level next season. Although no one can say beating Barcelona during pre-season was not welcomed, it is not the same as beating their full strength side when they are at peak physical condition. To do this we need a creative player in midfield, and there is non-better than Wesley Sneijder.
The player himself has expressed delight at a potential move to the Premier League, and with his wife holding ambitions of a media career in not just her native Holland, but also in England, she too is keen for a move to occur. The club itself have been sending out mixed messages, with Fergie stating there ‘is no one suitable available at this time’ yet David Gill vehemently stating that the summer spending at Old Trafford is not done with yet. Scholes himself has endorsed the player along with Eric Cantona, and Sneijder commands much respect from United players already.
To list the player’s attributes and accolades over recent seasons is something that has been done time and time again, with United fans themselves keen to see the little Dutch man at the Theatre of Dreams come the start of the season. Clearly he would bring something to the United midfield that is currently lacking, and whilst not a major problem now, may come to be one as the bigger games come to pass and that special through ball or spark is needed to make the big difference.
The stumbling block that has been much reported on is the player’s wage demands, with £200,000 per week breaking the current pay structure at Old Trafford, and issues over tax and image rights also being contentious. Whatever the case, the Sneijder to United story will not go away, with more than minimal interest from both sides, and Inter Milan willing to sell should the price be right.
The fact of the matter is, it seems fairly clear that in the near future he will be moving to Manchester United.
What both parties need to make sure of is that this saga does not roll on and on, becoming like Cescgate, something that both players and fans are tired of, and lose interest in.