The comparison of the two as to who is/was the greatest England central midfielder of the last 15-20 years. Some will say Gazza, some will say Lampard – but these two have been two if the top Premier League performers for many years. With Scholes retired, and Gerrard off to LA Galaxy, this is now the best time to once and for all decide who was the best out of the two.
When you look at the stats – it’s fairly equal:
Scholes has 107 goals in 499 league games (155 in 718 overall), while Gerrard has 117 in 497 league games (182 in 702 overall). In terms of assists – Gerrard has around 99 in the Premier League, while Scholes had 46 (according to the most recent figures. Internationally, Gerrard has 21 goals in 114 games, while Scholes scored 14 in 66 games. Gerrard scored crucial goals in Euro 2004, World Cups in 2006 and 2010 as well as plenty of Qualifying goals. Scholes, from what I’ve found scored key goals in World Cup 98 and Euro 2000 + 2004.
Now based on that you may say Gerrard is better – but consider this – Gerrard, in his 180-odd goals for Liverpool, scored 47 penalties and around 10 free kicks. In his near-50 extra England caps, he only managed an extra 7 goals, again taking many penalties and free kicks. His games for Liverpool in Europe were against far inferior opposition with Liverpool going through the early rounds in more seasons than they directly qualified for either the Europa League or Champions League.
The majority of the time Man Utd won the title, so were in the group stage, therefore facing better opposition than the likes of Debrecen, or many European minnows that Liverpool smashed on course to qualifying for the group stages. Both were influential players for their respective sides, and both have drawn plaudits throughout the footballing world. Here are some quotes from players and managers from all over the world:
“Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes, he is the best midfielder of his generation. I would had loved to play alongside him.” – Pep Guardiola
“I can’t understand why Scholes has never won the player of the year award. He should have won it long ago. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the other ‘stars’.” – Thierry Henry
“In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen – the most complete – is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything. He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away. If he had been Spanish then maybe he would have been valued more.” – Xavi
“I’m star-struck when I see Paul Scholes because you never see him. On the pitch you can’t catch him. Off the pitch he disappears.” – Luis Figo
“My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester Utd. He is the complete midfielder.” – Zinedine Zidane
“The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.” – Patrick Viera
“Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team.” – Marcello Lippi
“I think Paul Scholes is the best player in England. He’s got the best skills, the best brain. No one can match him. There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere in the world. Paul is irreplaceable.” – Sir Alex Ferguson
“When we were in training, I used to do a lot of tricks which hardly any players at the club could do. Once I was showing my skills to Scholes. After I finished, Scholes took the ball and pointed to a tree which was about 50m from where we were standing. He said, I’m going to hit it in one shot. He kicked and hit the tree. He asked me to do the same; I kicked about 10 times, but still couldn’t hit it, with that accuracy. He smiled and left.” – Cristiano Ronaldo
I looked for quotes from others on Gerrard, and most that I found were from his own team-mates and managers, and were mainly a couple of words, not the in-depth quotes like some of the above. There were a few from Kaka, Claudio Marchisio, Ronaldinho and Guus Hiddink, but none from anyone of the ilk above. One I missed from Scholes’ was Pele, who stated if Scholes had played with him, he’d have scored many more goals. What made some of Scholes’ more impressive is that they were from some of his greatest foe’s from top top players at top clubs all over Europe!
Scholes’ achievements dwarf those of Gerrard – he has won 11 League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 Club World Cup as well as 5 Community Shields. 25 in total, as well as many individual awards, but not the amount he should have got in reality. Gerrard on the other hand has 1 Champions League, 1 UEFA Cup, 2 Super Cups, 3 League Cups and 1 Community Shield, as well as 8 Team of the Year awards. He has as many runner up medals as he does actual winners medals!
Personally, Scholes seemed a better person. Gerrard had multiple incidents in papers such as when he bottled a DJ over the music he was playing…which says a lot. I have a relative who used to play Golf with Scholes in his early years at Man Utd! Both are/were fantastic players, and both had the chance to leave – Gerrard obviously is leaving to go and make a little extra pocket money in America, while Scholes told Inter Milan President Massimo Moratti that he would simply have to buy Man Utd if he wanted him in their team, after Inter offered Utd a blank cheque to secure his signing.
Overall, they are widely similar players. Man Utd and Liverpool fans will always disagree, but from a neutral point of view, for me, Scholes is the better player. He went about his business in a much quieter/more effective manner, and although his disciplinary record was a little poor, it does not overshadow his achievements. To me, Gerrard is a bit of a big time charlie who has earned a hell of a lot of his goals and assists through taking the majority of Liverpool’s free kicks, penalties and corners over the last decade. Both were very good for England – and are a credit to their respective clubs, but for me – Scholes wins this battle!