W@nker of the Week: Rob Shepperd
When it comes to journalists they say that there are the beards, the bastards and the babies.
The beards: the old hacks who have seen it, done it and bought the tankard to prove it. You’ll find them propping up their local bar roughly 30 seconds after press deadline.
The bastard: the careerist out for the hot scoop and he doesn’t care who gets trampled in the process.
The babies: fresh off the university production line. There’s a Pulitzer waiting to come out but babies will be writing news bites and ‘human interest’ stories for years to come.
Today, Rant brings you a fourth category and a new weekly prize. The WAste of iNKs – or to crowbar an unnecessarily offensive acronym into the mix: the W*NKER. Journalists so inept that mere contempt is not worthy. Those media folk for whom the English language itself runs for the hills. It is to those journalists that Rant dedicates this weekly prize.
This week’s winner stands tall with an ‘opinion’ piece in the News of the World so mind numbingly ridiculous that only a self-inflicted lobotomy comes close. Rant readers, we give you our Media W*NKER of the Week for the following gem. Take it away, Rob Shepherd:
Bully Scholes Failed to Take on the World
EVEN more than Glenn Hoddle, Paul Scholes is the best player England never really had.
Much was being made of Scholes’ possible involvement in the Carling Cup final.
Given he’s coming to the end of his career and has hinted at retirement, this could be the last Wembley final Scholes plays for Manchester United. But how will the 35-year-old be remembered?
Those who have played with or against him revere him. Zinedine Zidane once said: “My toughest opponent? Scholes. He is the complete midfielder. He is undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation.”
And Marcello Lippi added: “Paul Scholes would have been one of the first players I’d have bought, given the chance.”
Yet when Zidane left Juventus for Real Madrid, Lippi, then Juve boss, didn’t actually try and sign Scholes.
The reason? For all his great technical attributes Scholes, while running the occasional game, could never boss a team for club or country over a SEASON.
He could never transport his ability out of the comfort zone of being a platinum-plated cog in the United machine.
Yes, when United were on top he could play the role of world beater with punishing point-to-point passes, shots and third-man runs into the box.
Or, put another way, he was a flat-track bully who has picked up loads of medals. But how good would he have been playing for a lesser team?
And how many games has Scholes pulled out of the fire over the last decade or so in the the manner of Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs or David Beckham? Not many.
“Paul Scholes, he scores goals.” That’s what they sing about Scholes on the Stretford End. A plain and simple salute to a Salford-born hero.
In so many ways, Scholes deserves such understated adulation. He loves the game, plays it very well, shuns the spotlight and has managed to get married and bring up kids without selling his soul to the influence of avaricious agents or sponsors.
As Keane points out: “Paul Scholes is an amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.”
What a warming tribute at a time when some players seem to feel it is OK to shaft their mates.
Yet I don’t put Scholes up there with the GREAT English players of his era. Scholes does not get close to my best United XI of Schmeichel, G. Neville, Ferdinand, Bruce, Irwin, Best, Keane, Charlton, Giggs, Cantona, Law.
As for England, well, he never imposed himself on the big games.
Instead of battling it out Scholes simply gave up and quit England six years ago.
When you hear Gordon Strachan say, ‘Paul Scholes has been the best England midfield player for 30-odd years’, you realise the ‘professionals’ talk twaddle when it suits.
So, albeit a different style of player, Scholes (66 appearances, 14 goals) is this generation’s Hoddle (53,8), the world class talent who never delivered on the world stage.
Manchester United fans, of course, know what a marvelous player Scholes has been for England and the Reds over the years and no eulogy is needed here to change that. The Ginger Prince is rightly held in the pantheon of the very best players ever to don the Red shirt. So instead let’s hear from the pros that Shepherd holds in contempt, just one last time.
Edgar Davids – I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is.
Thierry Henry – Without any doubt it has to be Paul Scholes, Man United’s midfielder.
Glenn Hoddle – There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere else in the world.
Cesc Fabregas – He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League.
Zinedine Zidane – My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder.
Rio Ferdinand – I can honestly say Paul is the best player in the England squad. For me he is the complete player.
Socrates – Good enough to play for Brazil. I love to watch Scholes, to see him pass, the boy with the red hair and the red shirt.
Patrick Vieira – The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.
Ferguson – He’s one of the greats.
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