Longevity and being a class player are two different things.

So far on this blog I haven’t really delved into my personal football beliefs yet but once I start writing more you will see how opinionated I am on certain topics. This is one topic I feel incredibly passionate about and it is the difference between longevity and world class talent. For many years now I have had to argue my stance on two players more than any others and they are Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, I remember an article in The Telegraph that listed the 100 best premier league players of all time (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/01/29/premier-leagues-100-best-players/) and Ryan Giggs ranked number 1 and Paul Scholes ranked number 5 with only, Alan Shearer, Roy Keane and Thierry Henry ahead of him. For me, the inclusion of Keane in this is more ridiculous than the ones of Scholes and Giggs but that’s for another day.

The Telegraph and many fans, mostly Manchester United fans have gotten 2 things confused with each other longevity and talent Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are 2 fantastic servants for Manchester United and nobody can ever dispute that but to call Giggs the best Premier League player ever is beyond a joke. My main grievance with this comes with my view that Scholes and Giggs were never at any point in their careers one of the top 30 best players in the world or even top 50 for that matter even in United’s historic treble-winning season in 1999 there were so many players worldwide more talented than Scholes and Giggs. To have the Telegraph try to tell its readers that Giggs and Scholes are better than players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, and Dennis Bergkamp is ludicrous. As an aside I just re-read through that list and Phil Neville is placed higher than Alexis Sanchez, do you see what I mean when I say longevity is given too much credit there is no way he was ever a better player than Sanchez.

Scholes is often cited as under appreciated and in my opinion, he isn’t he was just never as good as people make him out to be. His career has been overly romanticized to the point where I have had a fan tell me online that Johan Cruyff is the 6th best player of all time behind Pele, Maradonna, Messi, Ronaldo and Paul Scholes. That is obviously an extreme example but it goes to show how over hyped his career has been since he retired. The fact that I constantly have people telling me Scholes was better than Gerrard and Lampard frustrates me to no end Lampard is a man who finished 2nd in the Balon D’or and scored in double figures for 10 seasons in a row as well as appearing in the PFA Team of the year 5 times with Gerrard appearing a record 8 times Paul Scholes only appeared in the team of the year 2 times. I know a lot of you reading this will be thinking that that doesn’t matter and you are partially right Sergio Aguero has never been in the team of the year but has been the best striker in the league for the past 5 years. Although ask yourself this, hypothetically if you Scholes and Gerrard switched clubs would Liverpool have still won the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006? If Gerrard was at United instead of Scholes I firmly believe that they would have won even more than they already did because Gerrard is that much of a game changer whereas Scholes was never that player.

The main argument that every Scholes and Giggs fan brings to the table is trophies and it is undeniable that their careers are the most decorated out of any two players in English football history. “You don’t win that many trophies without being a class player.” People should actually say that you don’t win that many trophies without being around class players. Kleberson is a world cup winner does that make him better than Lionel Messi? Obviously not. Wes Brown has 5 Premier League winners medals does that make him a better defender than Jamie Carragher? No, it doesn’t.

There are so many great players who have had only a few years in the premier league who don’t get the credit as brilliant players like Scholes and Giggs do. We have all had the conversation with our mates; If you had to make the best Premier League team of all time who would be in it? I had this conversation multiple times in my first few weeks at Uni with other Sports Journalism students and a lot of them said Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. In the 2010/2011 season, I watched one of the best debut seasons I have ever seen from a Premier League player from Rafael Van der Vaart, a lot of people forget how good he was during his spell at Spurs and for me he is the leagues most overlooked great player. My point is that I was more impressed by VDV that one season than I had ever been with Scholes in my life. Just because Van Der Vaart wasn’t in the league for as long as Scholes doesn’t mean he isn’t the better player the same applies for Ryan Giggs with Gareth Bale as his counterpart Bale was doing things at Spurs that Giggs couldn’t dream of doing yet if you ask people who the better player out of the two is a lot of them would say Ryan Giggs.

Then comes the argument that annoys me the most out of any in the world the quotes from other players. It isn’t the fact that most of the quotes are made up by twitter pages that annoy me most it’s that fans won’t listen to anyone else’s opinion they will just tell me that Xavi thinks Scholes is the best player ever so he must be right. Cristiano Ronaldo once saw Paul Scholes kick a ball at a tree from 40 yards and tried to do it all day but couldn’t, I’m not sure where this story came from or why people try to tell me that hitting a tree from 40 yards makes you the greatest midfielder the world has ever seen. The quotes from other players are as meaningless as what I have written here, you can be the greatest player in the world but not know a thing about anyone else being a good player. For example last year Eric Cantona, undoubtedly one of the best players from the 1990s was asked. “Who is the best player in the World Eric?” Who did he say? Not Messi or Ronaldo or anyone who could even be considered the 3rd best player in the world he said Javier Pastore was the best player in the world. Similarly, Pele widely regarded as the best player of all time had in my opinion, the worst footballing opinion of all time saying: “Nicky Barmby is up there with Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini and Ronaldo.”

It isn’t the most important topic in the world but I just wanted to get my views on it out there once and for all. The romanticisation of Giggs and Scholes’ career is something that won’t stop and almost everyone will disagree with me. They were by no means bad players but to call them the Leagues best ever is beyond a joke.

Author: Charles Jones

Journalist. Fulham supporter. FC Halifax Town Media team. Leeds Trinity University student.

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