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May 22, 2014

Scholes hits the bullseye

Stories have long emerged from Manchester United's training ground about the unfathomable accuracy of Paul Scholes' right foot. Rio Ferdinand once told a story about Scholes picking out a tree around 40 yards away and claiming he could strike it. Bullseye. It was acknowledged that this was a common occurrence.

Scholes is a man who is fully aware of when to release a pass and when to release a statement. The man whom Sir Alex Ferguson described as having "excellent opinions" managed to traverse a 20-year playing career at the highest level without talking much to the media. Things have changed.

To the surprise of everybody, Scholes arrived on Sky Sports with Gary Neville to critique United after they were beaten by Manchester City back in March. The sheer novelty of hearing him speak ensured that his views were taken seriously. David Moyes did not last long after that.

Therefore, it should not be taken lightly that Scholes has chosen to voice his opinions on Wayne Rooney, the England squad and in particular, United chief Ed Woodward.

He has nothing left to prove and certainly doesn't need the money so can only be speaking out because he wants to. He seems convinced he will not be offered a role at Old Trafford next season and this is the likely driver behind his speaking out.

He mentions that Rooney may have "peaked" already and needs to have a good World Cup to fully prove himself. Almost everyone else shares this opinion and it won't hurt if someone he venerates gives England's best-paid player a gentle kick up the backside.

- Kroos: United move closer? - Keane: Scholes and co. don't guarantee success

Where Scholes hits the bullseye is in his precise assessment of Ed Woodward. "He has an awful to prove this summer," he said. The fans are inclined to agree. United have spent the past 12 months being linked left, right and centre with every player under the sun. They have signed just a couple of them and overpaid hugely for both. This new transfer kitty must be spent wisely.

Louis van Gaal has taken the job and handed over his list of transfer targets to Woodward in good grace. He will expect the job to be done while he is on World Cup duty and is clear in his desire to focus on Holland for the next six weeks. And fair enough.

The next two months will be a new kind of test for van Gaal. His record places him firmly in the elite of world footballing coaches but like all serial winners, it is the defeats that drive him. Van Gaal remains appalled by his failure to take Holland to the World Cup in 2002 and sees this year's showpiece in Brazil as a chance for redemption.

Nonetheless, the United job is not one that you can turn down -- just ask Moyes. Nobody thinks it is ideal that van Gaal will be away from the camp and working for someone until potentially mid-July but life rarely sets these things up perfectly for you. The upshot is that the entire footballing world will be in Brazil aswell and United's new boss will be able to have a close look at some players.

It makes an enormous difference to have someone with pedigree at the helm when it comes to the business of transfers. The shambles of the last 12 months has left scars and the fact that it has taken more than a month for United to unveil their new manager means they have not healed yet.

One month to confirm the manager whom everybody knew you wanted is too long. It is because of this that stories about the imminent signing of Luke Shaw or Toni Kroos must be taken with a pinch of salt.

"[Woodward] has to bring the players in that the new manager wants," Scholes added. "It's obvious that last year he didn't manage to do that. If he doesn't, we are not going to get anywhere near the top."

Van Gaal and Manchester United are aiming for the top again. Woodward is most definitely under the microscope.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

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