Paul Scholes’ appearance as a pundit on Sky Sports One last night was a breath of fresh air.
Although he trod on eggshells when questioned on the future of David Moyes, to the point where he seemed briefed by the club, Scholes was forthwith and open about his assessment of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata.
“He’s not been great, has he?” Scholes said about Fellaini.
“You have to admit that. For a central midfielder at Manchester United for £27m, I’m expecting a few goals at least.
“He did have problems with his wrist and I know he missed a lot of games but, for the money they paid for him, I’d be expecting a lot more, to be honest with you.”
When asked if Fellaini should have been sent off, Scholes responded: “Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a proper bang into his jaw. How do you get away with that? I’ve no idea. The referee’s stood five yards away.”
Scholes also admitted he was disappointed with Mata’s impact so far in his Manchester United career but questioned how he has been used by Moyes, citing his own struggles as a wide player as something he can sympathise with.
“He’s a classic number ten off the front,” he said.
“He played that position against West Ham and did quite well but he’s not really hit the ground running as much as you’d expect. For £37m you want goals.
“In his defence he has played out of position quite a bit, out wide. I played on the left hand side quite a few times and quite enjoyed it because you can come inside and the right-back didn’t have to pick you up, the midfield player didn’t know where you were and the centre half, does he come or not.
“It was a decent position to get yourself in the box and score goals. But on the other hand, when the other team had the ball you’re up and down all day. That just wasn’t my game and I don’t think it’s Juan Mata‘s game either.”
In everything he said last night, Scholes was spot on. He might not talk very often but when he does, you wait on every word with baited breath.
Fellaini and Mata have underwhelmed at United. Against the big sides, Fellaini has been a carbon copy of Moyes – out of his depth and up the creek without a paddle. Will he blossom into a £27 million midfielder? It remains to be seen.
As for Mata, Scholes is right to question his impact and sympathise with the positions he has had to take up. Much like Shinji Kagawa, he has been forced to play a role that hasn’t allowed him to flourish and until Moyes gives him that position on a permanent basis, he will more than likely continue to be on the periphery.