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Football: The case for Scholes is full of holes yet the snobs still lobby for him.

Byline: BRUCE MILLINGTON

THE worst price currently on offer should be between one of the following: Ladbrokes' 5-4 Black Jack Ketchum for the World Hurdle, the 7-4 with Bet Direct and Betfred that Australia win the cricket World Cup and Paddy Power's 13-8 that Paul Scholes is the PFA player of the year for 2006-07.

The horse is shocking value at anything under 5-2 (I can't believe Sporting Index will allow you to sell his supremacy over Inglis Drever at 0.75), the Aussies are in disarray and as for Scholes, well how the hell can he possibly win it?

The sad truth, though, is that he can because the myth of Paul Scholes doesn't just linger on, it gets stronger.

I've never got the whole Scholes thing. He's good, obviously, but he's nowhere near as wonderful as plenty of people would have you believe.

His fans fall into two categories: diehard United fans and football snobs. These people love to appear clever by praising players, teams and goals that aren't immediately eye-catching in their brilliance. You may be discussing the latest goal of the month contenders with a pal and agreeing that a particular 30-yard exocet was different gear, and along will come a football snob to state the case for the carefully constructed team goal that was finished off with a modest side-foot from seven yards.

Football snobs were the ones who claimed Esteban Cambiasso's goal against Serbia & Montenegro was the best of last year's World Cup when anyone with fully functioning eyes could see the chest and volley from Maxi Rodriguez was the real goal of the tournament.

And the snobs are busy lobbying for Scholes to pick up armfuls of player of the year awards. Not, I suspect, because they truly believe the United midfielder is the best player in England this season, but because they think it makes them appear superior by doing so.

Scholes has done well this term, but anyone who thinks he has been more valuable to United than Cristiano Ronaldo is off their rocker. Ronaldo, who shares favouritism with Scholes, has been sensational and his 15 goals, numerous assists and general dazzling play make him the outstanding candidate (the only credible alternative being Didier Drogba).

Scholes has managed six goals in 30 appearances, and has miraculously failed to be outed as a dirty player despite picking up another eight yellow cards.

His energy levels remain high and his range of passing impressive, but he has been nothing like as influential for United as Ronaldo and it will be a travesty if the Portuguese does not win both the players' and writers' awards.

Let it not be said, however, that I don't admire Scholes. On Sunday the nauseating Oscars ceremony takes place.

People whose skill extends solely to the insignificant pastime of dressing up in costume to pretend to be someone else will sashay up to the stage to receive their awards and will then produce despicably over-the-top speeches that will give the impression they have done something really special like cure cancer or halt global warming.

If Paul Scholes won an Oscar he would show these oafs how to do it by shuffling to the podium, mumbling a few words of thanks and then departing to spend the evening with family and close friends. For that reason he is a star, but he is not this season's outstanding footballer.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 22, 2007
Words:568
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