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www.red11.org : TODAYS NEWS
Date: Mon Jun 22 07:35:52 GMT+00:00 1998
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. Scholes shies away from the spotlight (Times Article)
2. Media circus no place for Beckham the wounded lion (Times)


From: Steve Fisher Subject: Scholes shies away from the spotlight (Times Article) David Walsh looks at the emergence Special Section - Your Manchester United's talented midfielderCareer: A Guide to real virtuoso on the world stage Successful Personal Development Scholes shies away from the spotlight THROUGH a week besmirched by street-fighting, gashed heads and drunken mindlessness, reminder of what the World Cup could be about. Paul Scholes. Talented, modest, decent. performer who enters the arena, delivers a virtuoso performance then disappears easily into the crowd. An Englishman who adornsComplete list of World world's greatest sports event and a remiCup links that, for all the mayhem in Marseilles, this tournament could yet end well for his coNext page: Media circus Too much on a 23-year-old's shoulders? No place for Beckham the but this is no ordinary talent. He sits before a gathering of journalists at England's training headquarters in La Baule in northwest France, T-shirt hanging loosely over bermuda shorts, complexion reddened by the sun to the colour of his hair. But it is the reserved expression and the empty bottle of Vittel that are him: the look is his trademark, the empty Vittel his prop - as important to him as the baton to the conductor. He wraps his hands round it, fidgets with it while he awaits the questions and then brings it up to his face when he speaks. Adulation bothers him. It threatens the things that matter: his personal privacy, the down-to-earth nature of his character, the simple pleasures that go with both. Most of all he fears acclamation will lessen his chances of being the player he aspires to be. Not only does he not blow his own trumpet, he refuses to have the instrument in the house: "Basically I am a very shy person. I don't want a high profile, I prefer it the way I am. I don't know why I am shy but I am." For a lad who is shy, he has chosen a fairly public career, suggested one of his interviewers. "Yeah, it's a problem, innit?" said Scholes, a deadpan expression masking his sense of humour. He is an engaging character. Reserved but not boring. Straightforward but not unintelligent. And what a smashing footballer. He came with the extraordinary Manchester United harvest that included Giggs, Beckham, Butt and the Nevilles. But even in that company, there was something that distinguished him from the others: not better or worse, just different. Brian Kidd, assistant manager at Old Trafford, was one of the first to realise it. "Paul Scholes had the best football brain I've ever seen in a kid," he said. "I first spotted him playing a little five-a-side locally and I never had any doubt that he'd make it." Later on what struck Alex Ferguson was Scholes's attitude; he turned up for training on Monday mornings without the scars of previous battles. "With Scholes you never knew how the last game had gone because he was always the same," the United manager once said. "He allows nothing to affect him. That way he is very easy to manage." The shyness that makes him chary of words off the pitch disappears once he leaves the dressing-room. "He's the biggest whinger on the pitch," said the old United warrior Bryan Robson last week, "wanting every ball passed to him. Then after the game is over, you won't get a word out of him." And so it often is with great sportspeople. Lester Piggott needed a racehorse to express himself fully and it is commonplace for sporting heroes to lose their assurance once they leave the arena. Scholes feels comfortable on the pitch and knows what has to be done. To make the most of what he has, he must be assertive and vociferous. Afterwards, he can be himself. Throughout a career in which he has been quickly and repeatedly asked to move up to ever higher levels, Scholes has never felt overstretched. "I don't think anything has fazed me up to now but you never know," he says almost nonchalantly. Naturally talented and an instinctively confident footballer, he has trouble understanding what the fuss is about. For him it is a straightforward business: "What are my strengths as a footballer? I like to think I can make chances and score goals. That's it really." But on the pitch, how precisely does it work? "First thing I do when I get the ball is look to see what run the centre-forward is making and, if he's in, there's no point in looking for someone else when there's a chance of playing him through. If that's not on I have to make sure that I protect the ball and get it to one of my teammates." Routine stuff according to Scholes and, remarkably, he can make it seem so on the pitch. With excellent control and sweet striking, his technique is very good, but it is his vision that lifts him to a different level. He talks of looking to see what's on when he gets the ball, yet his gift is that he knows without apparently having to look. Occasionally he plays a first-time pass out of this world, a possibility that only he had seen and a reminder of what Kidd noticed all those years ago. The same vision takes him into goalscoring positions. It was no coincidence that England's best chances against Tunisia in Marseilles fell to their attacking midfielder. After missing two reasonable opportunities, he converted one that barely seemed possible. His recollection of the goal is, well, amusing. "My first instinct was to play a one-two with Paul Ince but my first touch wasn't good enough and then it came up for the shot. I just hit it." And one morning Leonardo da Vinci noticed a brush and some colours lying around and felt like painting Mona Lisa. Sure, Paul. They have never seen it like that at Old Trafford and clearly Glenn Hoddle is not buying it either. United have persuaded him to sign a seven-year contract and Hoddle has created a pivotal role for him in the England side. Although he has taken Paul Gascoigne's place in midfield, Scholes plays it differently. Gascoigne roamed all over the pitch, whereas Scholes operates mostly inside the other team's half and often inside the penalty area. His role plays to his attacking strengths and accommodates an asthmatic condition that necessitates daily use of an inhaler: "Actually I use two inhalers, one every day and the other on match days." Is there a difference between the two? "Yeah, there is a difference but I don't know what." His respiratory condition makes it difficult for him to play end-to-end football but Scholes refuses to fuss. It is not in his nature. Claire, his girlfriend, rings him after a Manchester United game and, unless she asks specifically, he will not tell her how well he played or if he scored. But she seemed on his mind when he was asked where he saw himself in 15 years: "Hopefully settled down, with a few kids." Little redheads, no doubt. Once during the interview, he became very serious and made eye-contact with his questioner before delivering a quiet but emphatic "no, no". He had been asked whether he could ever see himself driving a Ferrari. "Not your typical footballer," his United teammate Teddy Sheringham said earlier in the week. "Did he give a reason for saying that?" asked Scholes. "He said you don't go to Portugal on your holidays," murmured one of the journalists. While Sheringham lived it up in Portugal, Scholes was relaxing at home. Well, not totally relaxing. He had things to do with his house, fellows calling to quote him for different jobs. How much to tile that bathroom, wallpaper that hallway, put shelves on that wall? You can imagine him barely daring to haggle, unsuited to the rough and tumble of domestic commerce. But a week before the greatest challenge of his sporting life, it was where you would have expected Paul Scholes to be.

Subject: Media circus no place for Beckham the wounded lion (Times) IF GLENN HODDLE thinks Darren Anderton can do a better job than David Beckham, that is the end of the argument as far as the selection of the England team is concerned. I disagree with Hoddle's interpretation of the evidence but, obviously, I recognise that during the World Cup a club manager's opinion doesn't count. What bothers me is the way the upsetting effect of being dropped has been made more painful for the boy by some of the things that have happened since in the England camp. Why was Beckham put forward for a mass interview with the media while he was still reeling from the shock of being left out of the team for the match with Tunisia? Those in charge of the squad's press arrangements should never have considered that, and David himself should not have agreed to do it. He must have been devastated emotionally and asking him to bare his soul in public was not likely to help anybody but the headline-writers. It is something I would never have allowed. The first priority in such circumstances is regard for the player's state of mind. Beckham had gone, at a stroke, from what seemed to be star status in the team to kicking his heels as a reserve. No footballer should ever think his position is unchallenged but Beckham could be forgiven, after the regular use Hoddle had made of him and the glowing tributes he was receiving from the coach not long ago, for believing he was established as a member of the first-choice XI. Right or wrong, that was an understandable attitude for a 23-year-old to develop and, when the decision was taken to drop him, there should have been careful consideration of how it would affect his morale. Was there anything likely to put more pressure on him than being questioned by a roomful of reporters? Even if he wanted to do the interview, he should have been talked out of it. There is a duty to communicate but the welfare of the team takes precedence every time. The whole emphasis should have been on giving Beckham private encouragement to face the biggest disappointment of his international career in a positive way. Getting him to buckle down and try to regain his place is essential for him and for Hoddle, who must want Beckham eager and ready to step back into the team if picked. Going over the details of his disappointment at a press conference, opening up the wounds all over again, wouldn't be my idea of the best way to focus his mind on battling to convince the England coach that he is the best man for the right wing-back position. Hoddle's preference for Anderton was bound to be controversial. I felt there was a real question about whether the Tottenham man should even be in the squad after missing so much football because of the injuries he has suffered over the past two years. Though I have never doubted his quality, I couldn't convince myself that he would have the depth of fitness or the competitive edge required for a World Cup. But you could always tell that this was a player who had a special appeal for Hoddle and that Glenn was keen to believe the lad could come through all his troubles and perform well in France. As a coach, you come across players who strike a chord with you, who fit your sense of how the game should be played and make you feel you would always want them in your team. Maybe that is how it is with Hoddle and Anderton. If so, it is understandable. But in any objective comparison of the abilities of Anderton and Beckham it would be hard to argue that one is substantially better than the other. So why reject Beckham, who is hardly ever injured and has tremendous stamina, in favour of somebody who is still trying to find his top-level game after long spells on the injured list? At a World Cup, when you may be intensely involved for more than a month, playing frequently and training most days, you want to be rich in the kind of players who are always available for selection. If there are four or five who have a record of injuries and tend to have doubts hanging over them it puts a strain on your resources. Beckham is definitely in the first of those categories and, unfortunately, Anderton must be included among the doubtful cases. Clearly Hoddle has faith that the Sick Note nickname has been left behind, but it is risky to try to prove the point in the World Cup. My own respect for Anderton was demonstrated when I tried to buy him for Manchester United after we sold Andrei Kanchelskis. I think he has since admitted that it was a mistake on his part when he didn't make use of the release clause in his contract at Tottenham and instead decided to negotiate a new deal with Spurs. Fortunately for us, Beckham made his breakthrough into the first team earlier than expected and the gap we had wide on the right was filled. But I didn't lose my admiration for Anderton just because we didn't sign him. I always liked the cut of the boy on the park. The last time it was fair to judge Anderton, about a couple of years ago, his contribution as a player wouldn't have differed a lot from what Beckham gave to a team. Anderton at his best (and he looked a long way short of it against Tunisia) was impressively athletic, moving well with a good long stride, though never with the exceptional acceleration of someone like Ryan Giggs. He is comfortable on the ball and probably has more ability to beat a man than Beckham. But Beckham is just about the best crosser of a ball in British football and he would be more likely than Anderton to score a goal for you. Add those assets to his stamina and his remarkable record of fitness and it isn't surprising that so many people have suggested that Hoddle's preference for Anderton cannot be justified in purely football terms. There has been speculation about whether Beckham's involvement in the celebrity lifestyle of his fiancée, Victoria Adams of the Spice Girls, is seen as a problem by Hoddle. Any coach might worry about the danger that the distractions of that world would be strong enough to reach all the way into the closed camp of a football squad. It will be sad if Hoddle has in fact decided that Beckham's concentration on football is suffering because he cannot shut himself off mentally from his social life. I think the lad is beginning to have his own concerns about the pressures created by mixing with the showbusiness millionaire set. We happened to fly back to London from Nice on the same plane a few weeks ago after he had been out at Elton John's place on the Riviera and it was frightening to see how he and Victoria were hounded by reporters and photographers at Heathrow. I was walking near him and I have never been so happy to be unrecognised, or at least totally ignored. I have been in professional football as a player and manager for 40 years and I cannot imagine ever wanting to give over a minute of my life to the sort of nonsense that surrounded David that day. When he first started being exposed to all that stuff, David naturally enough found it all pretty exciting. But I get the impression that he has come to hate it. I think he realises now that being a celebrity means you are never given a moment's peace. And he is at a stage of his football career when he could do without that kind of pestering. He should be concentrating his thoughts and energies on moving his game beyond the high level it has reached. Nearly all really gifted players hit a plateau during their development. It represents a standard that would be considered outstanding for the vast majority of footballers but that elite minority cannot afford to get stuck on it. They have the potential to lift their performances to further peaks. Ryan Giggs was on the plateau for a while but accepted all the challenges his life was throwing at him and now he is moving on, maturing all the time and looking more and more like the finished article. Beckham needs to follow that example and make sure he does justice to his talent. As the man responsible for supervising his club career, I am glad that he has Gary Neville, one of his closest friends at Old Trafford, to help him handle his present troubles with England. Gary himself took a blow to his pride when he was left out of the team for the Tunisia match. But he has the inner resources to deal with his disappointment and still have something left over to support Beckham and cheer on Teddy Sheringham and, of course, Paul Scholes, who did such an excellent job in midfield against the Tunisians. Gary is not just a terrific defender, with a priceless instinct for smelling danger. He is a born leader, captaincy material if ever I saw it. He is not immune to hurt but he is exceptionally strong. During the most miserable days David Beckham has known in football, he will find Gary Neville behaving like a true teammate. * Alex Ferguson was talking to Hugh McIlvanney

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