Paul Scholes found himself caught in the middle of mind games between Patrick Vieira and Sir Alex Ferguson this week, with the Manchester City man claiming Scholes' comeback from retirement was a sign of desperation from Manchester United.
On 8 January 2012, Scholes stunned the football community when it was announced he was coming out of retirement to play once again for Manchester United, just hours before a crucial FA Cup tie against Manchester City.
In the buildup to the game at the Etihad Stadium, United confirmed Scholes had signed a new deal which would take him through the end of the season.
Vieira, currently serving as City's Football Development Executive, spoke about United's decision to bring back Scholes during a recent interview: "But for him to come back just shows a little bit of weakness in United, because they had to bring a player back who was 37."
Contrary to Vieira's statements, United have pulled off a major coup in bringing back Scholes and should even take his comeback one step further to keep him next season.
Sir Alex defended his long-serving player during his Friday press conference: "If it's desperation bringing the best midfielder in Britain back for the last 20 years then I think we can accept that."
It is hard to argue with such logic, and Scholes has more than proven since his return that he still has the class to play at the highest level.
However, the gaffer would not discuss whether Scholes would sign an extension with the club. Sir Alex should do everything in his power to convince his trusted veteran to play one more year.
Since his return in January, United have taken 35 points from a possible 37, the only blotch on that record being the 3-3 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. In 604 minutes of Premier League action this season, Scholes has made 603 passes with a 91 percent success rate. He has also scored two goals, just for good measure.
These are impressive statistics, made incredible by the fact they come from a 37-year-old midfielder who had not played in nearly seven months prior to his return. Clearly he can still perform at the highest level, and as long as that remains the case, he should continue to play for United.
He also brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the squad, which is vital for the developing young players at Old Trafford. He has been around for nearly two decades and won more than most players could ever fathom.
Scholes can impart that knowledge on the next generation to sustain United's success for years to come.
It is clear now that Scholes has plenty left to contribute, this season and beyond. However, it is obvious Scholes is not the long-term solution in midfield. His continued presence in the squad will provide more time to transition the team for when he and Ryan Giggs do inevitably hang up their boots for the final time.
City may call it desperation, but since Scholes' comeback, United have eclipsed them in the Premier League table and have overtaken them as the favorites in the title race. He is still one of the top midfielders in the Premier League, a point reinforced by his superb performances.
Regardless of the circumstances of his return, Scholes remains a top player that makes United a better team. Although there must be some long-term vision, football is very much results-based.
Simply put, Scholes gets results.
Why pay over-the-top when you can keep one of the best for no transfer fee? It would hardly be surprising if United did sign a new midfielder this summer to prepare for life after Scholes, but that certainly does not preclude that the veteran midfielder could not be a key player in 2012-13.
Scholes continues to bring success to Old Trafford, and it would be a mistake to not keep him for another season.
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