Ageing is an inevitable process that, despite our best efforts, we will all have to face.
Botox or a better diet can be used to keep Father Time at bay, but only for so long because when he arrives to take your hand there is nothing you can do.
And nowhere will expose the fact Father time has caught up with you like in sports.
Whatever your chosen field, when your tank begins to empty people will notice.
Muhammad Ali was robbed of his best years after refusing conscription to the US Army, so when he returned to the ring he no longer ‘floated like a butterfly’. Years later he was battered mercilessly by Larry Holmes, a man that was essentially a younger version of himself.
The great Michael Jordan faded as he prolonged his career and closer to home we only have to look at how Gary Neville called time on his career.
After a number of suspect performances, it took a tough showing at the Hawthornes against West Brom for him to realise he didn’t have ‘it’ anymore.
Last May, as we licked our wounds following Man City’s title win, Sir Alex Ferguson stated that this season would be the last for both Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. The comments went somewhat under the radar in light of all the furore caused by City’s spectacular last minute title win, but with the two being the last of Sir Alex’s great dynasty the issue of their retirements will always make news.
Scholes,38, has retired once already, but came out of retirement in a joint decision between himself and Sir Alex whilst every season Ryan Giggs,39, makes a decision on his future based on how his campaign has gone.
The two are undoubtedly United legends, have contributed immensely to the club’s success and add experience to a young team, but whilst their experience is invaluable, Arsenal are a constant reminder of how a dressing room with no senior figures can go wrong, at what stage does keeping the two on become a hindrance?
Bar his most recent performances, Ryan Giggs has struggled this season. He was abject against Liverpool at Anfield and Tottenham at White Hart Lane. On the wing he has shown he can still be effective, but pushed centrally he becomes a liability. Paul Scholes hasn’t had the same problems, still able to control a game, but as he has got on in age our opposition have figured out how to neutralise the threat he poses.
Despite their age there was a worry that we were still relying on them, Scholes especially. Last season in particular he was a crutch for the side and it can even be argued that his absence against Wigan was one of the turning points in the title race.
In the weekend’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool, he was not named in the squad whilst in December despite being named on the bench against City, he didn’t make it on field. Slowly it appears he is being eased out of the team and Scholes has always said he will only stick around if he feels he is making a contribution. It was being used in a reduced capacity that saw him retire first time round, so it is likely that he may hang up his boots again this summer, even if it is against Sir Alex’s wishes.
The issue of Ryan Giggs’ contract is an annual affair and has again reared it’s head recently, this season he has opted to delay talks until the end of the season so like Scholes, I think this may be his last as well.
This current team mixes youth with experience, and with Giggs and Scholes stepping into retirement the younger players will be forced to stand up, essentially it would be cutting the strings.
There is nothing wrong with having these kind of players around, the knowledge they can impart as well as what they offer on field is always welcomed. Last season Wenger tried to galvanise his side by bringing back Thierry Henry, and whilst how much of a success it was can be debated, his presence did help.
But this season when such a move was spoken of again, Arsenal fans questioned if this would be a move in the right direction and how much would bringing him back hold back their side. Wenger eventually ruled making a move for the Arsenal legend.
Their retirements will allow for other players to grow, nobody can deny that as Scholes’ playing time has been limited, Cleverley has benefitted and his partnership beside Carrick is promising. Manchester United have always been a side to give youth a chance and whilst I’m not saying that they should be replaced with academy/u21 starlets, their passing of the mantle to younger players now will undoubtedly beneficial.
As I advocate their retiring this summer, this also means that I am against Manchester United moving for the likes of Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. Both are still showing themselves to be solid players in the twilight of their careers, but it would be a case of 1 step forward, 2 steps back if we were to allow our aging players to retire then picked up Chelsea’s.
Comments like these will always leave a person open to claims of being ungrateful to two of the club’s great servants, but the feeling you get when you see Giggs misplace another pass, or when you see Scholes become a passenger because the opposition afford him no space to influence a game justify your thoughts.
Muhammad Ali’s career ended with a loss to Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas.
The man known as ‘The Greatest’ saw his time in the ring wrapped up to the sound of a cow bell because a real ring bell was forgotten, it was a farce. Neither Giggs or Scholes have had their ‘cowbell’ or ‘Gary Neville against West Brom’ moment yet, but the decline can be seen and it seems with every new contract extension we are pushing them towards it.
It would be a shame to see either player go out like that.
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With the Ali comparison i think it’s fair to say his best fights came after his three year abscence. He no longer had the speed & couldn’t beat oponents easily, he had to dig deeper than possibly any fighter has ever gone to beating Fraizer in Manilla. I think Giggs & Scholes are at that stage currently, not the Berbick fight. We all know it’s coming though & i agree, i think this should be their last season.
His most famous fights, not his best performances.
He had to adapt but the Ali prior to his absence would never have taken the damage the ‘new’ Ali did and could have been spared the Parkinsons he now suffers from. Of course age was a factor but the ‘floating Ali’ would have won those fights in a much more impressive fashion
After the West Ham game, have you changed your mind at all?
Not really, as said in the piece he is still capable of these kinds of performances. I, like most, just dont want him to hang around until he isn’t