Opinion: Our writers' favourite Scholes goals
He scores goals galore, he scores goals. Paul Scholes, he scores goals.
So the old chant used to go and, although he slowed down in pure statistical terms in his later years at the club, when he became more of a deep-lying playmaker, the homegrown midfielder certainly weighed in with his fair share in a red shirt – 155, to be exact.
With today marking the 20-year anniversary of one of Scholesy’s most famous strikes of all, a scarcely believable volley against Bradford City at Valley Parade, we’ve compiled a video of his top 10 efforts for the club.
We’ve also asked our writers to tell us about their personal favourite and you can read more about their choices below…
ADAM MARSHALL - MIDDLESBROUGH (APRIL 2000)
There was sometimes a need for me to watch the Reds on the road outside of the away end and Middlesbrough in April of 2000 was one such occasion. It turned into a crazy game, which United won 4-3, but Scholesy’s sweet strike from distance, a laser-bullet that only seemed to swerve on target at the final second, was a highlight. The home fans’ response was mixed – some respected the beauty of the goal, others just raged at the unfairness of it all. This anger turned into apoplexy when Quinton Fortune scored later on, with Boro's defenders claiming offside!
Among the myriad joys of Paul Scholes was his sense of timing, one of the outstanding examples of which came against Panathinaikos in 2000. With United 2-1 ahead at the end of a tight Champions League encounter with Greece’s finest, the Reds maintained possession for over a minute to run down the clock. Then, with the 29th pass of an epic move, Scholes upped the tempo with a diagonal pass to Dwight Yorke, drifted in behind Teddy Sheringham to accept the striker’s delightful flick and then applied the most graceful coup de grace with an impish chip from the edge of the area. Pure class, pure Scholesy.
IAN McLEISH - ARSENAL (APRIL 2004)
It’s not an edge-of-the-box worldie, a Barca-busting classic or a last-minute derby clincher, but in the context of the match and the season, and in the midst of the sheer visceral thrill of a pumped-up semi-final, this is undoubtedly one of my favourite Scholesy goals. In April 2004, life at United wasn’t especially rosy. Arsenal’s 'Invincibles' were 12 points ahead of us in the league at this point and ready to wrest the Premier League trophy back from our grip. With all due respect to Sunderland and Millwall, contesting the second semi-final the next day, this game at Villa Park was looking like the de-facto FA Cup final. And with Wenger’s men holding the advantage over Chelsea after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-finals (we’d been put out early by Porto), there was already growing talk of a Treble for the Gunners, just five years after our glorious campaign. Shudder. The truth is, that season, they were just better than us – although, despite that, in three games in the league and the Community Shield already in 2003/04, they still hadn’t beaten us. And in a one-off game, with Fergie at the helm and a bitterly fought rivalry firing up our players, who’d bet against us? What made this goal extra special in the circumstances was the quartet of players responsible for it, four men who hated to lose and particularly loved beating Arsenal. A loose ball was picked up in the middle of the park by Roy Keane, and, four touches later, the ball was in the net. The captain quickly laid it off to Gary Neville, who played a brilliant forward pass to Ryan Giggs, who centred it for the oncoming Scholesy to smash it past Jens Lehmann. Get in there!
JOE GANLEY - BLACKBURN (MARCH 2007)
We watch famous goals so many times as the years roll by that we sometimes forget what context they originally arrived in. This Scholesy classic against Blackburn now looks a neat, clever little slalom past several Rovers defenders and an emphatic finish that makes the opposition look daft. But in the stadium that day, it was nothing less than a vital, epic intervention by a senior player – one of the most important goals of the title-winning 2006/07 season. Over half the team had not won a league with MUFC, and the younger, more inexperienced players were struggling, with Blackburn 1-0 up and time ebbing away. The whole stadium was painfully anxious. Up stepped Scholes, nervelessly, to stick one home in the tensest of pressure-cooker situations. A quiet man who famously liked to mind his own business, this small masterpiece remains forever etched in my mind as prime evidence as to how mentally tough he was. You don't need to rant and rave to be a leader and, here, Scholes made that point forcefully and beautifully.
PAUL DAVIES – MAN CITY (APRIL 2010)
There were people searching for their missing shoes in the away end after the wild celebration of Scholesy's headed injury-time winner to settle the 156th Manchester derby. For the third time in 2009/10, the Reds had broken Blues’ hearts with a stoppage-time winner, with our no.18 doing as Michael Owen had at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture and like Rooney had in the League Cup semi-final second leg. He scored better, but few as memorable. Patrice Evra drifted a cross on to Scholes’s head and the midfielder glanced the ball in the corner of Shay Given’s net from 12 yards. Cue pandemonium in one corner of the Etihad, Scholes jumping into the crowd and Gary Neville planting a kiss on his team-mate’s lips. We were all Gary Neville in that moment.
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