Manchester United legend Paul Scholes has labelled former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira as one of three midfielders he didn’t like going up against.
Scholes also, somewhat surprisingly named former Portsmouth player Papa Bouba Diop and ex Birmingham midfielder Robbie Savage as his other two choices, with Savage, in particular, being a rather tough opponent to face:
“I just want to have all the time in the world here, just nobody around me, just find a little bit of space and pass the ball around. Then you play against people like you [Savage]. An absolute nuisance, trying to close you down dead quick. I don’t want that, I just want it nice and relaxed. The way I played I didn’t really have to beat people or be stronger, quicker than the other person.”
“I suppose Patrick Vieira, you play against him, he is so long, he is so big. You think you’ve got the ball, and the next minute he nicks it over your head, he was a clever player as well. There’s one more that people won’t think of. We used to play against Portsmouth. Do you remember Papa Bouba Diop? Big, massive. They used to call him ‘the Wardrobe’. You get involved physically with him and you’re wasting your time. I always found him awkward to play against. He wasn’t a Vieira, of course he wasn’t, but he still had talent.”
Scholes loved his raking long, diagonal balls but, as he said, he needed time to deliver his pinpoint accurate passes, and midfielders, like Vieira, didn’t give him a moment’s peace when in possession.
Even so, he still got the better of most opponents due to his outstanding talent. He is widely admired, not only by fans and former players in this country. Legends such as Zinedine Zidane and Xavi were also in awe of his ability on the ball.
United supporters would undoubtedly love to have Scholes back in the team now, but he is now confined to providing his thoughts as a TV pundit.