Belfast Telegraph

Ronaldo has the golden touch

Paul Scholes: Winning top award never crossed my mind... I was just happy to be named in next United side

By Paul Scholes

It is at this time of year I get asked: "Wouldn't you like to have won the Ballon d'Or?" to which the answer is simple.

I was not even the best player in the dressing room at Manchester United, it would have been pushing it to make a claim to be the best footballer in the world.

That is how I regarded the two awards, the European Footballer of the Year, and the Fifa World Player, until they merged.

At United there were so many good players in the club that your first task was to get into the team. Then make sure the club was successful on the pitch.

I could not tell you if I was ever on the long-list for either of them because for the 22 years of my life as a professional footballer, my thoughts rarely strayed beyond whether the manager was going to pick me for the next game.

Looking back over the records, the competition was fierce in my days at United.

Between 1991 and 2010, nine different players at the club won 10 PFA Player of the Year awards.

Gary Pallister was the PFA winner in 1992, but he was not even voted United's best player that year. Brian McClair won the club award.

It was the same in 2009 when Ryan Giggs won the PFA award, but Nemanja Vidic won the club award.

It shows you just how good you had to be to finish top of the pile at United.

As for me, I won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year in 1993 and 22 years later that is still the only one I have got.

I have to accept though, that football has changed.

I do recall a time when player of the year awards were presented to footballers on the touchline after the pre-match warm-up.

The winner was intercepted by the club photographer as he jogged back down towards the tunnel. There was a handshake, a picture and it was over in 30 seconds.

These days you have to put on a bow-tie and fly to Zurich to find out that you've finished third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

It might not surprise you to know that award ceremonies are not top of my list of favourite evenings out.

I watched the Ballon d'Or ceremony on television this week and I couldn't believe how long it went on for.

As they worked their way through the presidential award and then the fair play award, I was beginning to wonder if we would get the main presentation by tea-time.

There can be no arguments with the outcome.

It has been a fantastic season for Ronaldo, the World Cup finals aside. He has won the Champions League and been prolific in his goalscoring.

Having played with him for six years at United I know he has earned every plaudit he gets.

As for next year, I would say that Gareth Bale has got his work cut out getting ahead of Messi and Ronaldo to win his first Ballon d'Or.

I think it will be between those two again.

At Manchester City, Wilfried Bony will find life very different to being the main man at Swansea City.

He is going to have to cope with playing one in two, or one in three games a week when he is used to playing every match.

In return he has the chance of winning trophies and, on top of that, a contract that will offer financial stability for him and his family for the rest of his life.

Those considerations can be dismissed in some quarters, but who - in any walk of life - turns down the percentage pay-rise that City are able to give him?

He will have to compromise in some respects but it sounds like an offer he would have been foolish to refuse.

He is a different kind of player to the strikers that City already have - more static than the likes of Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic - but I can see why they have signed him. There are question marks over the fitness of those two.

There could even be periods where he goes for six or seven games without getting a start.

It will not have taken him long to make his peace with that when he considered the potential rewards.

Source: Independent

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