Football News

Paul Scholes says Solskjaer’s most experienced midfielder is ‘not a Manchester United player’

By Harry Edwards

Published: 11:34, 20 October 2019

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has criticised the club’s recruitment since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, highlighting the signings of Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini in particular.

United are currently on their fourth permanent manager post-Ferguson and are yet to truly challenge for the title since their 2012/13 victory. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have all tried and failed to take United back to the top, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is enduring a difficult spell.

Why have Man Utd been struggling post-2013? Five things to know…

  • Sir Alex Ferguson retired from football manager in 2013 after leading Manchester United to a 20th league title.
  • Since then, United have been through four permanent managers, all failing to add to the club’s league tally.
  • But Paul Scholes believes United may be suffering more due to the 2013 departure of chief executive David Gill.
  • Gill was replaced by Ed Woodward, who has come under heavy criticism for United’s signings.
  • Scholes claims United under Gill would not have signed Juan Mata or Marouane Fellaini.

But Scholes believes the club are not just suffering from Ferguson’s absence, but by former chief executive David Gill also leaving. Gill replaced Peter Kenyon in the role in 2003 and held the position until February 2013, when he was succeeded by Ed Woodward.

Woodward has come under a lot of criticism for overseeing certain signings, including those of Fellaini and Mata. The pair joined United under David Moyes’ reign in 2013/14 season and though Fellaini left in February 2019, Mata still remains under Solskjaer.

Mata, who has played 10 games across all competitions so far this season, is the longest-serving midfielder in United’s first team, closely followed by Jesse Lingard, who became a permanent member in 2015 after various loan spells.

But Scholes believes Mata, despite being a good player, would not have been signed by United under Gill.

“When you look five or six years ago when Sir Alex Ferguson left, the only person that’s probably going to get the credit he deserved was David Gill [former chief executive],” Scholes told Metro.

“He was a football man. From the day he went, as well as Sir Alex, it’s been difficult.

“I think there were alarm bells straightaway really when David [Moyes] took over and he signed Juan Mata and Fellaini for something like £70m. They’re good players in their own right, but I don’t think they were Manchester United players.

“I don’t think Sir Alex or David Gill would have signed those types of players, so I think from then on, alarm bells have rung and we’re in the position we are now because of buying players who we don’t really think are Man Utd players.

“Ole’s come in and he’s got the opportunity to put that right.”

Since replacing Mourinho in December 2018, initially as an interim manager, Solskjaer has seen the likes of Fellaini, Ander Herrera, Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian leave on permanent deals, while Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling have been sent on loan.

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Mata’s time at Manchester United

A Champions League winner with Chelsea in 2012, Mata signed for United in January 2014 having failed to convince then-Blues manager Mourinho.

In the five-and-a-half years since, Mata has made 228 appearances for United, scoring 45 goals and recording 37 assists. He has been part of the United squads to win the League Cup, Europa League and FA Cup, scoring in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in the latter.

But he has seen his playing time slightly cut since Solskjaer’s arrival, accumulating 1,252 minutes in his 24 appearances under the Norwegian, averaging 52 minutes per match.

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