“I’m not the best. Paul Scholes is.”
That was straight from the mouth of Professionally Outspoken Man Edgar Davids, and he knew a thing or two about dominating a midfield.
We’ve all heard the stories about his cultured passing, his understanding of the game, and schooling kids half his age late in his career, but here at MUNDIAL there’s one thing we love most. Scholes had a right thwack on him. Like a pile-driving thwack. Left foot, right foot, volleys, first time; didn’t matter.
Here are the nine best of them, all pulled out from the archives for your nostalgic viewing pleasure. Long live the Ginger King.
Get your fucking foot through it, lad. No doubt Fergie was screaming this at Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who wriggled in between the Wednesday defenders with all the haste and conviction of a moth flying through a hurricane. No matter, though—Scholesy’s here. Doesn’t care for faffing, instead lumping a first-time strike into the top bin without a moment’s hesitation, with his weak foot. This clip is, of course, improved hugely by the groovy little straight-to-DVD titles at the beginning—reminds you of a footie disc you’d stick straight in your DVD player when you unwrapped that present from Santa. Simpler times.
Despite the 8 or 9 pixels in the video making it difficult to discern, this is the usual ruthless move we associated with United during That Treble Season. Andy Cole’s ball across the box misses Dwight Yorke, and you can hear Old Trafford groan in frustration. But Paul’s there to sort everything out. With a little two-step before he thwacks it, looking like he’s just come straight from seeing the Artful Dodger at Time & Envy, Scholes smashes one in the far corner and United win 2–0. There’s a theme developing here.
You’ve seen this before. It’s literally the best goal Paul Scholes ever scored. Jesus wept.
And this runs that one a close second. Martin Tyler’s incredulous screams of “Haoaow?!” mirrors our reaction. How has he done that? The ball has descended from 25 feet, and yet Scholes smashes it so sweetly it might as well have been hanging from a piece of string. And it smacks the crossbar on its way in which we have scientifically proved is the naughtiest way to score. Bang, ping, boing, rustle. Goodnight.
Oh look, here’s another one of Paul Scholes picking up a loose ball and smashing it into the top corner before jogging off like nothing’s happened. He seems to wind his foot back like he’s about to unleash apocalyptic Armageddon on those poor Black Cats, but he doesn’t—Paul shows mercy. If mercy means striking the ball so purely he barely needs to raise his right leg after it’s struck, giving it the faintest lift as if to acknowledge the unlikely serenity of this featherweight thwack. It is the politest of volleys, but it does, of course, fly into the top bin—it’s Paul Scholes.
What is it about Man United players scoring outrageous goals against Newcastle? Is it the Tyne air? The smattering of topless Geordies? Who knows? Whatever it is, it infected Paul Scholes when United went up to St James’s in April 2003. Despite Wes Brown’s lay-off, widely regarded as one of the least convincing passes ever played, Scholes doesn’t care. This right-footed pile-driver was the second in a rare Scholesy hat-trick. When it rains, it pours.
There he is look, poor Carlo Cudicini. Sprawled helplessly on the floor like he’s just found out his mum washed his favourite jeans on a hot wash with a winning EuroMillions ticket in the pocket. Scholesy here shows absolutely no mercy; sorry Carlo, can’t help you. No one can.
“Title says it all. What a player!” is the caption on this YouTube video and, to be fair, it’s spot on. So cheers, YouTube user LJPMC. I mean the comments on the video do a better job than I ever could of explaining this absolute thwack, ranging from “listen to the sound of the leather spanking that ball” to“fuckin missile innit”.
To be fair, if I was Joseph Yobo, and I’d scrapped my way to 0–0 at Old Trafford after 85 minutes, only to then be 2–0 down by the 90, I’d be backing off half-arsed as well. But Scholesy’s not done with him. It’s Fergie time, son. A whirling paradigm of pain which two teams enter, but only one team leaves. Strolling forward like a menacing predator over its near-dead prey. One final ripper that smashes in via the underside of the crossbar should finish them off. And boy, it did.