Since hanging up his boots and making his bow as a pundit with BT Sport, Paul Scholes has been vocal in his criticism of his former club, Manchester United.
The former midfielder was especially critical of United’s performance the past couple of seasons during the reign of Louis van Gaal. Each week it seemed Scholes was having a fresh pop off the Dutchman’s tactics and playing style, constantly bemoaning that the team were not playing the ‘United way.’
As the eleven-time Premier League winner grew more impatient with watching 0-0 draws at Old Trafford, van Gaal began to swipe back at his foe in the media. LVG became visibly irritated in press conferences when quizzed about comments passed by Scholes on his “boring” side and how the Old Trafford faithful were becoming “bored” with backwards and sideways passes.
However, this season, the ex-England midfielder has changed his tune. Scholes is excited with what he sees on visits to his club’s ground again under Jose Mourinho. From the depths of pessimism, the BT analyst has turned a new leaf of optimism as United turn for the home straight in their season.
Speaking to Omnipsort, Scholes revealed he believes United fans are in for a happy ending to the season. While tough fixtures still lay ahead, the 42-year-old is confident that the Red Devils’ run in will prove fruitful in the race for a top four finish in the league.
“I expect them to finish fourth,” stated Scholes. “They have been on a fantastic run, without making much progress in the league.
“You have to say, the quality in the Premier League is back to where it should be. There are probably five teams fighting for that top four. There is a big period now, this will define how good the season has been (for United).”
If United weren’t to reach the top four of the Premier League, Scholes believes they could still be playing in the Champions League next season, as he has tipped Jose Mourinho to claim more honours this season, claiming the Europa League would fit nicely alongside the EFL Cup United won in February in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet.
“It is a great chance for them.
“They are obviously the biggest club left in the competition. They are favourites and rightly so.
“If they perform anything like (they can) they have got a great chance of winning. I think Lyon are maybe the obvious contenders to United. But, apart from that, I don’t see too many problems for them in that competition.”
Impressed with the new manager’s work so far this season, Scholes is already looking forward to the heights the Mourinho revolution at Old Trafford could scale.
“Mourinho will be given loads of time, I think. He’s had to consolidate after a difficult couple of years. He’s managed to do that, and he’ll want to kick on now.
“He won’t be happy with finishing fourth or fifth in the league. He’ll want to be up there trying to win the league.
“I believe in the next couple of years he’ll be desperate to do that.”
The ‘Class of 92’ star went on to leap to the defence of world record signing, Paul Pogba. The French midfielder will be looking to improve on his all-round performance going forward if he is to replicate the levels of success that Scholes had with the club in central midfield. Like the manager, if given time, this is a formality, according to the United legend.
“I think he’s done well. I know he’s had a little bit of criticism, but from what I’ve seen…he’s a brave young player.
“He’s always willing to take the ball. He’ll always try stuff, he’ll try passes, he’ll try shots on goal.
“I think he’s had a good first season, settling back into England. It’s not always easy, but I think he’s done alright, and he can only improve.”
Via the Irish Independent.