Legendary United midfielder Paul Scholes has labeled the recent success enjoyed by United as ‘triumph of the underdog’. Because he feels that players like Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young, who were on the verge of leaving the club last summer have resurrected their careers brilliantly.
Not long ago, players such as Fellaini and Young were all but set to leave the club last summer. Ashley young however managed to maintain a place in the starting lineup largely due to his flexibility. However, for Fellaini, the late injury which he suffered at the end of the summer window prevent him from moving to Naples.
However after giving a regular run in the squad, they both have thrived. May it be the left wing-back position or the left winger position, Young has did very well in that role. Especially in this excellent run-in United are experiencing right now, Young’s impact has been instrumental. Infact his impressive performances have kept the British record signing Angel Di Maria out of the squad. On the other hand, Fellaini has did well in his unorthodox number ten role to torment the opposition defenders.
Hence, Scholes has went to praise their contribution by suggesting that the recent success is triumph of the underdog. “Looking at the side it seems to me to be a triumph of the underdog – Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young. All of whom looked like they could be out the picture at the start of the season and are now having a big impact” he said, according to Manchester Evening News.
He infact feels that Di Maria’s sending off against Arsenal in the FA cup quarter finals has been the turning point in United’s successful winning streak. Di Maria received two bookings for diving and tugging referee Michael Oliver’s shirt in United’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat to the holders last month.
That result confirmed a second trophy less season for the club. However, since then United have went on to win four games in a row. Among the four, the victories against United’s top four rivals, Totthenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City have been crucial. Besides, he also praised Van Gaal’s reliance on an attack-minded midfield in this run-in.
“I still feel that Angel Di Maria’s red card against Arsenal was critical in allowing Van Gaal to build this new-look team. The formation is bold. It is much more attacking and more what I expected of Van Gaal when he arrived” Scholes added.
He also believes that Mata has brought composure to the team and the spine of the team has been key to the success. “There is a spine of four players – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Fellaini and Wayne Rooney – that runs through the middle. Then Young and Mata wide.”
Scholes also believes that Fellaini’s best position in the team was the unorthodox No.10, which was revealed by Ryan Giggs during his four match caretaker stint in charge of last season. Along with Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, Scholes assisted Giggs at the end of last season and has disclosed why they decided to play Fellaini further forward.
“When I was coaching under Ryan Giggs at the end of last season, we always felt that Fellaini’s best position was as an unorthodox No 10 – the role he is playing now,” Scholes added.
“When he first joined United, David Moyes had played him as a central midfielder but I don’t think controlling the game from there is Fellaini’s biggest strength.”
“When I played against him when he was at Everton, he was just a giant nuisance: elbows up, big and strong and always liable to peel off and take up a position at the back post. That is how Van Gaal is playing him now and not asking Fellaini to do the things he finds more difficult.
However Scholes has raised his doubts on the impact he will have on knock out champions league games. “I do wonder whether Fellaini has the quality to win games in the Champions League latter stages but that is for another day. I always found him a good, committed player who trained hard” he said.
Image Courtesy: Manchester Evening News, the Guardian and ESPN