May 14, 2021

Man Utd

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Paul Scholes’ ultimate Man Utd XI as Cristiano Ronaldo misses out

6 min read

Paul Scholes will forever be remembered as a genuine Manchester United legend.

The midfielder made 718 appearances and scored 155 goals for United spanning two separate spells in a decorated playing career during which time he lifted 25 trophies, 11 of them being Premier League titles.

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, with whom he announced his retirement from the game alongside in 2013, Scholes was a significant figure in United becoming a powerhouse of English football in the 1990s and 2000s.

He of course played with some seriously talented players during that time, too; from goalkeepers through to forwards, Scholes could name four or five sides from differing generations who he played alongside at Old Trafford.

Which XI did Scholes play with the most over that time, though? We totted up the appearances and playing minutes of those stars who featured with Scholes, via Transfermarkt – this isn’t necessarily the best XI of former teammates, but this side is made up of his most common colleagues.

We’ve drawn up an 11-man starting XI, not including Scholes himself, but to put into perspective the depth in quality of player that Scholes ran out with, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andy Cole, Peter Schmeichel, Patrice Evra, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic are among the distinguished company who don’t make the cut.

The rules

  • The XI is made up of players who made the most appearances alongside our featured player or for our featured manager. We’re not looking for an overall ‘Best’ XI, and the player/manager himself isn’t in it.
  • For a player, the appearance numbers are based on the time they spent on the pitch at the same time as our main man, factoring in both club and international level.
  • This isn’t necessarily the eleven players who’ve spent the most time on the pitch with/for him, just the eleven that would fit into a working team.
  • We’re not going to come up with a Garth Crooksesque formation, but we might name subs if we feel like it.
  • All minutes played and appearances stats are courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk.
  • Don’t get angry in the comments section.

van der Sar

Games played with Scholes: 175

After a period where replacing Peter Schmeichel proved to be a problem, Sir Alex moved to bring in Edwin van der Sar from Fulham. The Dutch international was 34, but he managed six terrific years in between the sticks at Old Trafford and secured four league titles during that spell.

Previous experience of England with Fulham and an impressive CV which included stints at Ajax and Juventus stood up and he proved to be a safe pair of hands.

G Neville

Games played with Scholes: 466

A fellow member of the class of ‘92, Gary Neville was the player on the list who was second only to Ryan Giggs having racked up over 33,000 minutes of shared game time with Scholes with United and England.

Right-back Neville, like Scholes a fellow TV pundit these days, combined for nine goals with Scholes over those years of success. He was on hand to plant an affectionate kiss on his teammate when the midfielder nodded in the winner at City in 2010. The pair work together nowadays on the Salford City front.



1 Apr 2000: Dwight Yorke, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes of Manchester United celebrate against West Ham United during the FA Carling Premiership match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Manchester United won 7-1. \ Mandatory Credit:Michael Steele /Allsport

Ferdinand

Games played with Scholes: 293

Even though he came with a big price-tag at the time, Rio Ferdinand proved to be one of the best signings of the Ferguson era in terms of what he contributed – and what he achieved in a red shirt.

Arriving from Leeds, ball playing defender Ferdinand was a regular in the side and struck up a particularly fruitful partnership with Vidic over an extended period. Like Neville, Ferdinand featured in the same England side as Scholes.



Brown

Games played with Scholes: 255

The Longsight lad, another famed academy product, proved to be a very reliable individual when presented with an opportunity – and he was handed them often, racking up 255 outings with Scholes alone for club and country.

Like so many others in the back-line, including John O’Shea, Wes Brown’s versatility ensured that he was given chances to impress; for example, he played right-back in the 2008 Champions League final and assisted Cristiano Ronaldo. Brown was, though, a centre half by trade.

Silvestre

Games played with Scholes: 266

Perhaps one of the more surprising inclusions in this side, French defender Mikael Silvestre spent just shy of 20,000 minutes on the same pitch as Scholes while at United.

Frenchman Silvestre arrived as a centre-half, but quickly made his name as a rampaging left-back who enjoyed getting forwards. Silvestre spent nine years at the club, and eventually ended up at Arsenal.

Keane

Games played with Scholes: 317

Scholes’ fearsome midfield partner. The pair worked so well in tandem with one another, and to manage it with such a degree of longevity is a real feat.

Roy Keane arrived from Nottingham Forest in 1993 and was a couple of years older than young Scholes who was breaking through, but the pair struck up a fruitful partnership. Indeed their respective attributes complemented one another, and Keane & Scholes combined to produce nine goals between them.



Christian Bassedas holds off Roy Keane during Newcastle United's game against Manchester United at St James' Park on December 30, 2000
Christian Bassedas holds off Roy Keane during Newcastle United’s game against Manchester United at St James’ Park on December 30, 2000

Butt

Games played with Scholes: 263

Another fellow academy product, and another very honest and dependable figure who gave his all for the United course over an extended period.

Nicky Butt made his breakthrough into the first team at the same time as Scholes, and the duo featured in 263 outings for both Ferguson’s United and the England set-up.

Gorton-born Butt went on to enjoy spells at Newcastle United and Birmingham City.

Giggs (c)

Games played with Scholes: 478

Giggs and Scholes. You can’t mention one without the other springing to mind. Two of Ferguson’s most trusted disciples, who enjoyed the same successes from the mid-90s through to Scholes’ retirement in 2013.

To clock up 478 appearances for a single club alone is an achievement alone, but to do it as a pairing is quite something else entirely. That translates to just shy of 30,000 minutes together.

Ryan Giggs, whose career and record speak for themselves, sits comfortably at the top of the list.



MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 06: Manager Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United talks to Paul Scholes (L) and Ryan Giggs (R) during a first team training session, ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group H match against SC Braga, at Carrington Training Ground on November 6, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Beckham

Games played with Scholes: 342

David Beckham, who so often played to Scholes’ right, is actually third on this list behind Neville and Giggs, despite leaving United for Real Madrid in 2003. That tells you how relied upon the pair were throughout the 1990s as United dominated English football.

With Beckham’s wicked right foot and Scholes’ runs into the box, the duo produced 17 goals while on the pitch together for United and England.

Solskjaer

Games played with Scholes: 256

The current Manchester United manager plays as one of two forwards in our old school 4-4-2 formation here.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Baby-Faced Assassin, played in 256 matches alongside Scholes and of course sparked pandemonium at the Nou Camp in 1999 on a night which Scholes and Keane missed.

The pair combined to great effect in between the lines of midfield and attack on a number of occasions.



Solskjaer poses at Old Trafford after getting the United job full-time

Rooney

Games played with Scholes: 242

Wayne Rooney is the next highest forward on this list, ahead of Cole, Van Nistelrooy, Yorke and Sheringham.

Like Scholes, Rooney tallied up a huge number of appearances under Ferguson – and beyond the legendary manager’s tenure – and just shy of 250 of them for club and country were made in the same company as Scholes.

Rooney, like Scholes himself, has moved into management since retiring.

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