Belfast Telegraph

Is Paul Scholes any good? It's difficult to say

By Billy Weir

Gary Neville had a shaky start and Phil Neville was wobblier than a jelly being carried by Bella Emberg on a bouncy castle, so as another of the Class of '92 embarked upon the punditry path, there would have been some trepidation for Paul Scholes.

And for BT Sport too, taking immediate steps to avoid 'second season syndrome' by capturing Scholes, as Jake Humphrey told us on Saturday morning 'he is our big signing for the season'.

They've signed Robbie Savage too, who was the support act for the main event at Old Trafford in a new televised version of 606, without the never-ending line of boring punters who make the blonde bombshell seem riveting.

Fletch and Sav featured the sockless one with Darren Fletcher, the radio one, not the United player, but given the latter's performance against Swansea, a swap could be on the cards, and, I have to say, for an hour or so it wasn't bad.

But two hours before every Premier League match is stretching it, even the set, a mock living room, was starting to fall apart, and do they really think we believe that Robbie owns all those books? He's probably coloured them all in by now.

I shall return to that, no doubt, later but what about Scholes, who called in to Fletch and Sav's bedsit before being rescued by big Jake, and he made a bombastic start to punditry life, confidently predicting 'I think they'll win comfortably today'. Ahhh ...

Worse was to come though when Jake asked him what David Moyes had done wrong last season, suddenly transforming him into Mavis Riley responding 'it's very difficult to say.'

Stop right there, you're a pundit, we will not have 'well, I don't really know' responses.

It wasn't the most ridiculous utterance of the early stages, Steve McManaman saying 'don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against United.' Hmm, I don't really know about one.

Still, at least Scholesy was sticking to his guns, beginning the day sticking to his prediction that Swansea would be relegated, wavering immediately when seeing their team, offering more optimism by the break and by the end probably fancying them to be in the top four.

His confidence in his old team didn't travel the same path, slamming them for being 'too nicey, nicey' and by the end his face was as red as his hair.

Then again, it is dark days, so handy that commentator Ian Darke was there to succinctly sum the day up.

"The brave new world of Louis van Gaal starts with an unscripted home defeat by Swansea City. That wasn't in the script," he said, clarifying things just in case you didn't know what unscripted meant.

It was the same script for Scholes though, bemoaning a 'real lack of quality in the middle third and the final third' and forgetting that the first third were pretty ropey too, and then Jake put the boot in, asking how many of the current team would feature in a best United XI of the recent times.

Cue awkward shuffling of feet and before he could say it was difficult to say, Macca whipped away Jake's pointy stick and said 'it was a hard question for him to answer.' I know, that's why he's there, let him answer it.

So, a tricky first day. Will things get better for Scholes and United? Hmmm, it's difficult to say.

Belfast Telegraph


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