While Mino Raiola might deserve all the flak coming his way, there is a certain amount of irony about pundits – and, yes, journalists – criticising him for opening his mouth.
Ex-players are paid handsomely to speak forth on all sorts of issues but agents have to take their commission and keep it shut.
Raiola might have made a talent out of verbally disrespecting Manchester United but he is a grown man and can say what he wants.
He gets asked a question and answers it. Honestly, presumably.
If those words are a distraction to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or any of his players, then they are in the wrong jobs.
If Raiola’s utterings strayed into criticism of the way Solskjaer does his job, then the Norwegian would simply shrug them off.
Probably in the same way he shrugs off much of the criticism from media professionals.
But when barbs are aimed by an ex-professional at a current professional, they can pierce any emotional armour.
Because he gets paid good money to go on TV, Paul Scholes can – unlike Raiola, it seems – say what he wants.
And after Manchester United’s departure from the Champions League, he saved his two-footer for keeper David de Gea.
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“(He) bottles it here,” said Scholes. “He is scared of getting himself hurt. He turns his back away, he actually makes himself smaller, which is criminal…”
For someone such as Scholes to categorise a Manchester United player as a coward is brutal.
Scholes belongs to the school of thought that says characters such as Raiola should quieten down.
But soon after, Scholes is not just criticising De Gea for his role in RB Leipzig’s third goal but is stigmatising him.
As a bottler, a shirker, as someone guilty of dereliction of duty, a coward.
Was Paul Scholes wrong to say David de Gea “bottled it” against RB Leipzig? Have your say here.
Many have said that only the player himself knows if he has shirked a challenge but, to the untrained eye, it pretty much looked like standard De Gea keeping.
How many times do you see De Gea dive face-first at an attacker’s feet? It is not the way he operates. His feet are his greatest ally, as United fans have seen many times over the last nine years.
It did not work out when Justin Kluivert kept his cool. But a bottler? It was a cute finish.
The irony, though, is that, bottler or not, De Gea is providing Solskjaer with a question that could yet define him as an elite manager.
Has Solskjaer got the backbone to stand up and drop De Gea for a game of the magnitude of a Manchester derby?
He should have. Never mind RB Leipzig’s third goal, De Gea has been in an unconvincing run of form for some time now.
Solskjaer has, at his disposal, someone who many would consider the best English goalkeeper in the land.
The confidence and the voluble way he commanded the United defence – you could hear his instructions echoing around the vast London Stadium last Saturday – has already stood out in the one and a half games of Premier League football Dean Henderson has experienced for Manchester United.
It is a big call for one of the biggest domestic matches of the season.
But maybe after asking his old pal Paul to apologise to De Gea, it is one Solskjaer should finally make.
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