After Manchester United’s Champions League win on Wednesday evening in Moscow much has been made of the current squad being the best ever and earning themselves legend status. While it is true that they have now immortalized themselves within the club and may very well be the best squad that United have ever had, they aren’t necessarily legends yet – not all of them anyway.
Christiano Ronaldo is well on his way towards that end but needs a few more seasons of loyalty to reach that pinnacle and I really hope he does, for that would mean success for both him and the club. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are the United legends to come out of Wednesday evenings triumph.
Scholes unassuming modesty has kept him out of the limelight and away from the front pages of newspapers but his value to the team has never been underestimated. His value to his country may have been as it was only when he retired from England duty that England really began to appreciate the player he was and is, and have tried on many occasions to get him back into the fold. Scholes was perhaps the least likely of the golden generation, of Giggs, Beckham, Butt and the Nevilles, to succeed at the highest level, because of his size and asthma and the position he plays. Even before he made his United debut, while still with the youth team, there were concerns about his size and he came very close to be let go. Luckily for all at United he proved his worth and went from strength to strength. He is no longer the attacking midfielder he was a few years ago, getting his fair share of goals, arriving late in the box, and playing behind the front two, but now collects the ball from deep and dictates play from the centre of the pitch. The little maestro was called the English Zidane but Patrice Evra, who had no idea just how good Scholes was until he arrived at Old Trafford. With Anderson likely to play more next season, and the possibility that new players could come in, Scholes may see less action then he has in the past, but there is little doubt that he will always give 100% for his team and will never let anyone down. Approaching 34 years of age Paul Scholes will retire a legend when he eventually does hang up his boots. That may not be for a few seasons yet.
Ryan Giggs is a true legend of Manchester United and the sport of football. On Wednesday night he came off the bench to not only win his 2nd Champions League winners medal but also to break Bobby Charltons appearance record by making his 759 United appearance. In the modern game that is a record that is extremely hard to come by and is unlikely to be broken any time soon. The achievement is all the more remarkable in that he has played during United’s most successful period throughout his career, as the team evolved and changed, yet he has kept his place, being the constant in all Uniteds successful teams under Sir Alex. Giggs has lost a yard or two of the blistering pace he once had, but at 34 that is expected, but his experience has been a vital factor in bring success to a young team. He is the most decorated United player of all time, and the most decorated player in English football, with 10 League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 Champions Leagues and a couple of European Super Cups to his name. A staggering haul and one he will look to add to before he retires. In the modern game, when money often speaks louder than anything else, Giggs has shown unprecedented loyalty to his one and only club, and will forever be remembered as a United legend. Like Scholes, Giggs can expect to play less and less from next season, as the likes of Nani become more involved, but his contribution to the squad will always be maximal, and the squad will never lack for leadership or role models.
Giggs and Scholes are real legends in a time when the word is branded about loosely without much meaning. The modern game is better for them and will be hard presses to see their kind in the future. We can always hope, but for now we must enjoy and respect two of the games best ever.