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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 August, 2004, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Why Scholes quit England
By Don Howe
Former England coach

Paul Scholes played his final England match at Euro 2004

If you lose a player like Paul Scholes - as England have done with his retirement from international football - it is a massive blow.

But when you put a number of factors together you can see why he has come to his decision.

Paul is a wholehearted player. It is easy to criticise him because he went three years without scoring before Euro 2004 but you cannot knock him for lack of effort.

The problem has been that he never seemed to play the same position for England as he did for Manchester United.

With England over the last few years he always seemed to play in the wide positions - often the left side - and he always had to come in from there to get in the box and get into scoring areas.

Under Kevin Keegan, Paul played in a more central position and scored a lot more goals.

He is best when he is playing just deep of the centre forward, as he does with Ruud van Nistelrooy at United, and making runs into the penalty box.

If you put a player like Scholes, with his energy and desire to get involved, and play him out wide, he is disorientated and has to think about that position, how he is going to get in the game.

It takes away from him his trademark runs, which are instinctive.

And the newspapers spent a lot of time before Paul scored against Croatia at Euro 2004 talking about his lack of goals. It was all negative.

And if a player is not really enjoying himself, finding it difficult to express himself and get into the game - even if he playing for England - that will eventually tell on his thinking.

For England the million dollar question remains - who to play on the left of midfield?

Then there is the travelling involved.

When you play for a top club you are not only doing well in Premiership but you also play a lot of football in the Champions League.

You spend a lot of time travelling and away from home.

Family reasons also come into play.

I would bet that he is the type of lad that is in his car as soon as training is finished, on his way home to his wife and family.

By retiring from international football he will be able to spend a lot more time with his family.

And when the England lads are away on international duty he will be getting his rest.

Retiring now will put years on his career.

Look at Alan Shearer as another example of a player who seemed to retire early but is now reaping the benefits.

Paul Scholes (left) with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson (right) will be happy with Scholes' decision
Last season Shearer was back to his old self at Newcastle and I'm sure Sir Alex Ferguson will be very happy with Scholes' decision - he will get a fresher, more energetic player for longer.

I think Scholes has looked at what international football takes out of him, his family life and his form - which hasn't been as good for England as Man Utd - and then made his decision.

But what does it mean for England?

The national team has been embarrassed with attacking players from central midfield in recent years - Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Scholes.

But we have been trying to find someone to play on the left for the last decade.

Scholes was not a roaring success in that position, and at one time it looked like Gerrard would play there, but I don't know whether he can do that for England.

We could play a defender there - like Ashley Cole or Wayne Bridge - but it doesn't seem as though there is a young lad emerging to fill it.

But for England the million dollar question remains - who to play on the left of midfield?




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