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Alan Hansen's column

Paul Scholes
Scholes set up two of United's three goals in their win over Newcastle on Monday

Alan Hansen
Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

There are a host of new faces in the Premier League this season, but it is one of the oldest players around who is once again rolling back the years at Manchester United.

Paul Scholes was outstanding in the Charity Shield victory over Chelsea and against Newcastle in the Premier League on Monday. Mind you, it really shouldn't be a surprise any more.

He is one of the top three to five players to have ever played in the Premier League - his passing, movement and technique set examples to everyone, not just younger players.

And to still have the hunger and desire to play so consistently at the highest level at 35 speaks volumes about United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's man-management ability. Ferguson has not pressurised Scholes at any stage during his 19-year career at Old Trafford. Instead, he just encourages his midfielder to play on as long as he can. And it's working.

Who is to say that had he continued playing for England, he would still be playing as well as he has for Manchester United?

It is difficult to say whether Scholes would have made a significant impact in midfield for England during the World Cup. We all know the story about Fabio Capello's late approach to persuade him to come out of international retirement. But remember, Scholes decided he did not want to represent England a long time ago.

Who is to say that had he continued playing for England, he would still be playing as well as he has for Manchester United?

The first game of the season is not about knocking the ball around and playing attractive football - it's about getting three points. You definitely can't win the Premier League in the first two months of the season, but early defeats have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt title-chasing teams.

It is a difficult time of the season to judge because teams must ensure they make a good start but be mindful of not going flat out for fear of running out of gas come the business end of the season in April and May.

For a player, the first 10 games into the season are probably the most difficult because you are playing for fitness, trying to get back to the highest level. But I think Sir Alex will be pleased with what he has seen so far from United.

Craig Bellamy
Bellamy has been overtaken in Roberto Mancini's pecking order`

Over the other side of Manchester, rivals City looked anything but a cohesive unit during their 0-0 draw with Tottenham. It wasn't too dissimilar to the game at the end of the last season when the two teams met at Eastlands to decide the final Champions League spot, a game Spurs won convincingly - and it could have been the same again had Joe Hart not made a string of excellent saves.

At times City look like they have 11 strangers out on the pitch. You need a core of seven or eight players to build a title-contending team around and Roberto Mancini needs more time to figure out who those individuals are, despite adding more big-money names into his ever-expanding squad.

But one name who definitely won't be in that final list of 25 players is Craig Bellamy. It's a curious move to see a player who is more than good enough to terrorise defences in the Premier League drop down to the Championship.

I don't know Bellamy, but he says he wants to take his home-town club back into the Premier League. He would have been an excellent addition at former club West Ham or at Tottenham, but I don't necessarily buy this theory about not selling a player to a rival club.

If you come up with the money, business sense usually takes over which means you sell that player regardless of who the club are. Maybe City work differently, but they have let a very good player go.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's Pranav Soneji.



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see also
Bellamy moves to Cardiff on loan
17 Aug 10 |  Cardiff
Man Utd 3-0 Newcastle
16 Aug 10 |  Premier League
Tottenham 0-0 Man City
14 Aug 10 |  Premier League
Chelsea 1-3 Man Utd
08 Aug 10 |  Football


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