Age concern: It's great to see pass master Scholes back but his return shows up the lack of young talent – and the dangers of inflated transfer fees
It had been 224 days since Paul Scholes last played for Manchester United.
The football landscape changed in that time: the other Manchester are top dogs for now, Tottenham are London’s leading team, Alan Pardew and Martin O’Neill are towering over the North East and Swansea pass it like Xavi.
One thing hasn’t changed: the little ginger general and his own passing game. We used to call it one touch, but Scholes is so good, he plays half-touch.
Back in business: Paul Scholes made his comeback in the Manchester derby
Ginger general: Apart from his early mistake, Scholes cruised back into the United team against City
Head up, tap and move; you think you see it, but then he’s changed the point of the attack and it’s going in another direction. He’s still so good, Brendan Rodgers might find a place for him.
His early mistake apart, Scholes could have stepped into that cauldron of an FA Cup third-round derby game and controlled the tempo playing with his eyes closed. He cruised back into work: just wonderful.
It made me want to get my boots on and go and play in the garden. But what does his return from retirement say about the game he left behind when he retired after the Champions League defeat by Barcelona last May When it’s Scholes (alongside his old mate Ryan Giggs) one day, followed by Thierry Henry back in Arsenal red the next
The last time we saw Thierry at the Emirates, he was cast as a bronze tribute statue.
Now he’s Arsenal’s centre forward again.
Meanwhile, Ledley King still delivers the highest standards even when injuries restrict his training, Steven Gerrard can glide back into a Liverpool shirt after two starts in 10 months and run a match like he has never been away and Frank Lampard’s latest goal for Chelsea was his 180th for the club. That’s a score normally reserved for darts.
Needs to work harder: Paul Pogba will slip back in the pecking order due to Scholes' return
So what does all this mean For a start, that precocious young talent at Manchester United, Paul Pogba, needs to take a long look at himself. I’m told he wants the earth and is heading to the end of his contract, with Manchester City looking on mischievously.
Well, son, if 37-year-old Scholes is getting on ahead of you, I suggest you get back on the training pitch and work harder at your art. Anderson, who cost 18million, might think the same.
I’m delighted for Scholes and Henry, two all-time greats of the Premier League era, but their return leaves two questions: where is the brilliant young talent and where is the value in the transfer market during this window
Darts score: Frank Lampard scored his 180th goal for Chelsea against Portsmouth
Luka Modric is a modern Scholes. He has been central to the development of a talented, emerging Spurs team but he has scored one league goal this season and they have already rejected 40m from Chelsea and would, I guess, reject 50m from anyone else.
He has been magnificent and I love the little man, but I will repeat, one goal…
This time last year Chelsea spent 50m on Fernando Torres, Liverpool spent 35m on Andy Carroll and are believed to be ready to soon beat the 24m Aston Villa paid for Darren Bent. That’s almost 110m on three capable strikers, all of whom have hardly justified their overpriced valuations.
The new Scholes: Luka Modric would cost in the region of 50m
So rather than step into an inflated market when panic needs escalate prices further, Arsene Wenger has signed a player he knows, but whose form and desire he watched in a televised game beamed from New York, while Sir Alex Ferguson has recalled his reserve team coach and given him the No 22 shirt.
If there was the talent to replace them, Sir Alex and Arsene would have done that rather than attempting to roll back the years. I’m certain of that.
I’m often asked if the game is better now, if players have improved. It is quicker, certainly. But better Well, David Silva could play with any generation in any team. But the answer comes with the return of Scholes and Henry. If the game was so much better, they wouldn’t be able to walk back in, even if it will be a joy watching them try.