Paul Scholes vs Xabi Alonso: Man Utd legend’s crazy 2007 red card remembered

  • Rob Swan
Paul Scholes attempting to punch Xabi Alonso is still one of the PL’s wildest red cards

Paul Scholes is mostly remembered for his great goals and incredible passing ability – and deservedly so.

The Manchester United legend is unquestionably one of the best players of the Premier League era.

But those who watched Scholes play week-in, week-out won’t forget that there was another side to the central midfielder.

It became a running joke that Scholes was incapable of timing his tackles, resulting in 97 bookings and even four red cards during his illustrious 20-year career.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 16: Referee Mike Dean shows Paul Scholes a red card after his high footed challenge Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON semi final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

What did Paul Scholes say about his tackling ability?

In 2011, though, the man himself insisted that suggestions he couldn’t tackle were wide of the mark.

“Of course I can tackle. There’s plenty of evidence of being able to tackle,” the former England international told BBC Radio Five Live, per the Evening Standard.

“I was just getting people back. If someone got me early in the game it was always in the back of my mind that I needed to get them back.

“I didn’t always do it on purpose, some of it was just bad timing, I suppose.

“But I think throughout my career the record wasn’t that bad, there were not that many yellow cards. Well, I suppose a few yellow cards, but not many sendings-off. But I think towards the end every time I made one tackle I got booked, because of my reputation I suppose.”

CARDIFF – AUGUST 10: Freddie Ljungberg of Arsenal is tackled by Paul Scholes of Manchester United during the FA Community Shield match between Arsenal and Manchester United held on August 10, 2003 at the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Manchester United winning the trophy and match 4-3 on penalties. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

When Paul Scholes attempted to punch Xabi Alonso

One of those red cards came at Anfield during a memorable Premier League clash between United and Liverpool in March 2007.

From the game that’s best remembered for John O’Shea’s injury-time winning goal in front of the Kop, it’s often forgotten that Scholes was sent off minutes earlier following an altercation with Xabi Alonso.

Scholes controlled the ball before turning around and aiming a punch at Alonso after Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder held onto his arm.

Watch the incident here:

While he didn’t connect with Alonso, the intention was certainly there, leaving referee Martin Atkinson with no option but to show a straight red card.

If Scholes was as accurate with his fists as he was with his feet, Alonso would have sustained a stinging haymaker to the face.

Fortunately his aim was off – for once! – and Alonso avoided a whack from the Ginger Prince.

Despite that unfortunate incident, Alonso never lost his appreciation for Scholes’ talents.

“In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen – the most complete – is Scholes,” Barcelona legend Xavi once told the Daily Mail, per Goal. “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.”

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