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Thursday 16 August 2018

John Giles: Blatter chatter totally deluded

THERE are two types of people in football. Those like Paul Scholes and Pep Guardiola are true to their game and their profession and those like Sepp Blatter play politics.

Normally, I try to avoid talking about or thinking about Blatter if at all possible, and I suspect men like Scholes and Guardiola don't think about him at all.

But when I saw Blatter use the Champions League final as a blanket to cover the nonsense and alleged corruption happening within FIFA, my blood boiled. According to Blatter, the fantastic spectacle that was the Champions League final was somehow proof that he's doing a good job.

For me, the match was brilliant despite men like him. He claims that the football pyramid is now shaky but if that's the case, it's only because it's top heavy.

If Blatter seriously thinks that he has any part to play in the foundations of football, he is deluded. Football will survive men like Blatter because of the intrinsic strength and beauty of the game as demonstrated so well by Barcelona at Wembley and Scholes throughout his career.

The game is being assailed on all sides by the modern world and by money men trying to shape it to suit their products or, in Blatter's case, his ambitions.

They all want to use football for profit. But while men like Guardiola and Scholes guard the flame, we'll be all right. As everyone knows by now, I've the highest regard for Scholes on every level.

He's a gentleman who is graced with humility and a great talent. The Premier League has lost its last homegrown midfield talent and a player who was plugged into the heartbeat of football at its most basic. He never haggled over money and he never employed an agent. He did his deal and signed the form, happy with his lot.

I'm sure Scholes could have earned an awful lot more if he followed the normal route, but what has always impressed me about him is that he is his own man and began to make good decisions very early in his career.

He must have been a very mature teenager because to travel the road he has run, he had to know from the start that he wasn't interested in anything except playing football for the joy of it.

The money was important but not that important, and he made up his mind not to pursue the glitter. He's a rare bird indeed because he also knew from early on that he was a one-club man and would not be shifted from Old Trafford.

Above all, though, he was a marvellous footballer, who was a midfielder in the true sense of the word.

ABILITY

Lads like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are valued more for their goals than the work they do in midfield, but Scholes did it all.

He scored a lot of goals as a by-product of his ability to run a game from midfield and, while he had some great players beside him throughout his career, I think he fulfils all the criteria to be termed ‘great'.

I was struck by the fact that Iniesta and Xavi both cited Scholes as a major influence when they were making their way in the game and that was some compliment.

On Saturday night, they gave a demonstration of midfield play at its very best. They were unplayable and both Alex Ferguson and Scholes could only hold up their hands and acknowledge greatness.

There was no blaming the referee by Ferguson or any of the usual rubbish we hear in the Premier League. All he could do was bow to Guardiola's team.

Guardiola, like his team, is a one-off. Compare him to Jose Mourinho and there's no contest. For one, it's all about ego and for the other, it's all about the team. It's not hard to work out which is which.

PASSION

He obviously feels an obligation to the game and the spirit of Barcelona, which is very impressive to see. He wears his passion on his sleeve but keeps himself under control at all times. That's what I want to see in football. Honesty and humility go hand in hand and football fans are not stupid.

They know class when they see it. Barcelona generated a great energy at Wembley and Manchester United played their part.

There wasn't a bad word all night and from what I've heard the atmosphere around the ground was fantastic.

Blatter had nothing to do with that but Lionel Messi did. Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro did. Paul Scholes did too, even if his team were outplayed and well beaten.

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