16/11/2009 09:50, Report by Steve Morgan
Best of the middle men
Grafters, visionaries, hotshots, marathon men - midfielders come in many forms. Here we take a look at the good and the great in each guise...
The midfield his kingdom, the ball an object of his bidding. There’s always one man whom others look for to change the game with a defence-splitting pass that looked so simple when you caught it again on TV, but no-one else saw at the time...Best in show
When the modern good-and-the-great are discussed there’s always a sparkle in the eye when one name crops up: from his teenage years at the Cliff, it was clear Paul Scholes was destined for big things. Possessed of a breathtaking vision starkly at odds with his unassuming demeanour, Scholes owns a range of passing, short and long, that defies belief. With a master key in his boots, he’s unlocked the doors of the shrewdest defences for 15 years - his lights remain undimmed. Scholes’ chipped pass with the outside of his boot over the Stoke City defence for Ryan Giggs this season was a moment to make the heart sing – though, sadly, no goal came of it. Then there’s his goals (plenty with his head, too), 144 and counting – Barça en route to Moscow in 2008, Bradford in 2000/01…
The complete midfielder, and we’re blessed with a goodly share currently (Michael Carrick, come on down), naturally possesses skills transferable between various categories. Take Paddy Crerand – which Matt Busby willingly did, from Celtic in 1963 – hard as nails, yet with a craftsman’s touch and mathematician’s brain to measure passes short and long. Crerand offered light and shade as required and was an instrumental figure in Busby’s first post-Munich silverware (1963’s FA Cup), league titles in 1965 and 1967, and the European Cup a year later. And while it’s only natural to remember Bobby Charlton as a goal-getter first and foremost, in his advancing years Charlton’s ability in ‘the hole’ was a thing of no small wonder.The Grafter