Scholes bows out with a goal as Man Utd hit six
The end of an era as Paul Scholes ends his Manchester United career in front of a packed house at Old Trafford as the Reds crush the New York Cosmos 6-0. So, finally after 676 games for Manchester United Paul Scholes finally decided to call it a day with a benefit game at Old Trafford against the New York Cosmos.
A rather ironic choice considering the former England midfielder's aversion to the limelight, to play out his career in front of over 70,000 fans at a sold-out Theatre of Dreams.
But then Scholes has always done it his way. From shunning the trappings of celebrity for the security of family life, to walking away from an England career because of all the travel and hassle involved.
When the likes of Barcelona's Xavi rate him as the best midfielder, "In the last 15 to 20 years" or Zinedine Zidane description as, "undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation," then the Salford born lad must have been doing something right.
In short we are not talking about some ordinary talent. Probably the only ordinary thing about the 36 year old was his tackling - 120 bookings in all competitions and ten sending-offs tells its own tale.
Not that Scholes is severing all links with United, he will become a club coach from the 2011-12 season onwards.
With likes of Reds legend Eric Cantona in the New York Cosmos dugout 14 years after his shock retirement from the game coming up against his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, then not all of the limelight was directed at Scholes, and if all else failed we had Pele, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel and Denis Law in the stands.
Ferguson included Scholes in his Manchester United team one last time together with the 'Class of 92' (Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville). But no David Beckham who is contracted to LA Galaxy and was unable to attend.
Cantona had to make do with members of the Cosmos U23 squad plus some 'named' makeweights, including Fabio Cannavaro, Robbie Keane, Wayne Bridge and Gary Neville.
For the Cosmos it was mainly a chance to show that they have never really been away since their demise in 1984 as they look to secure the 20th MLS franchise.
You see, for the moment the club which was most associated with those heady days of professional 'soccer' in the States during the 70's, who signed Pele and looked like usurping baseball, basketball and American football in terms of popularity are now just a name looking for a league to join.
Rather like the Olympics, testimonial games are all about the taking part not the winning and that presumably explains the awful version of 'New York, New York' we had to endure from some pitch-side crooner just before kick-off. Set back Anglo-American relations for at least 90 minutes.
Then, as befits playing an American based team, the opening strike on 8 minutes was straight out of Hollywood. Scholes received the ball some 20 yards out and with the whole of Old Trafford willing him to shoot he duly obliged with a screamer past Brad Friedel. The stadium erupted.
Twenty minutes later and the hosts doubled their advantage from the penalty spot after Ashley Young was fouled. With the Reds faithful wanting Scholes to take the penalty Wayne Rooney stepped forward to a chorus of boos and converted.
United were clearly the more accomplished outfit for no other reason than they are used to playing as a team, with at least eight of the starting line-up likely to begin the Charity Shield final on Sunday.
David de Gea in the Reds goal must realise not all games will be like this, whilst his opposite number Friedel can only hope for a more secure defence at Tottenham.
Interestingly, considering we had Robbie Keane and Wayne Bridge out there for the Cosmos trying to impress other clubs, it was the 39 year old former United star Dwight Yorke who looked the livelier for the visitor's.
Unsurprisingly, wholesale changes were made at the break to both teams but it made little difference to what happened out in the middle. Scholes continued to show his range of passing whilst the rest of his colleagues boosted their match fitness ahead of the weekend showdown with Manchester City.
It was three soon after the restart. A neat interchange of passing ended with Anderson stroking the ball home. It was soon after this that the inevitable Mexican wave started. And during this display Danny Welbeck took advantage of some poor defending to make it four.
We than had a contender for villain of the night as Patrick Vieira came on for the Cosmos to a crescendo of boos which continued whenever he touched the ball.
But even the former Arsenal hard-man and fellow Cosmos defender Gary Neville could not prevent number five and six from Mame Biram Diouf as the American's substitute keeper Chad Calderone was again exposed by a rapidly tiring back-four.
And then it happened with 16 minutes remaining, Paul Scholes left the Old Trafford pitch for the last time as he was substituted to thunderous applause.
The game then drifted to its conclusion with the only disappointment being Cantona did not make an appearance on the pitch in a playing capacity.
Scholes reappeared after the final whistle to take the applause and make one final lap of honour with his wife and children.
For Manchester United fans, The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
NEW YORK COSMOS SQUAD 21 Armando Gaitan* 7 Robert Pires (Ex Arsenal & Villarreal) 9 Dwight Yorke (Ex-Man Utd) 8 Nicky Butt (ex Man Utd) 3 Wayne Bridge (Man City) 13 Chad Calderone * 6 Sol Campbell (Ex Arsenal, Tottenham) 5 Fabio Cannavaro (Ex Real Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Italy WC captain) 14 Ibrahim Diaby * 16 Stefan Dimitrov * 1 Brad Friedel (Tottenham) 18 Marvin Iraheta * 11Robbie Keane (Tottenham) 20 Brian McBride (Ex Fulham, USA) 17 Dane Murphy * 2 Gary Neville (Ex Man Utd) 15 Yanik Reyering * 12 Michel Salgado (Blackburn, Ex Real Madrid) 19 Moriken Sangary * 4 Patrick Vieira (Ex Arsenal, Man City) *Denotes New York Cosmos U-23 Player MANCHESTER UNITED SQUAD: 1 David De Gea 29 Tomasz Kuszczak 34 Anders Lindegaard 40 Ben Amos 3 Patrice Evra 4 Phil Jones 5 Rio Ferdinand 12 Chris Smalling 15 Nemanja Vidic 20 Fabio Da Silva 21 Rafael Da Silva 23 Jonny Evans 8 Anderson 11 Ryan Giggs 13 Ji-Sung Park 16 Michael Carrick 17 Nani 18 Paul Scholes 18 Ashley Young 24 Darren Fletcher 25 Antonio Valencia 26 Gabriel Obertan 28 Darron Gibson 35 Tom Cleverley 42 Paul Pogba 47 Oliver Norwood 49 Ravel Morrison 7 Michael Owen 9 Dimitar Berbatov 10 Wayne Rooney 19 Danny Welbeck 27 Federico Macheda 32Mame Biram Diouf
Referee: Peter Walton
It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Manchester United transfer market news and gossip.