In football, we love to have debates. Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Arsenal's Invincibles or Manchester United's treble? The list could go on. And in the mid-2000s, one of the key discussion points in England was (alongside FIFA vs PES) Paul Scholes or Steven Gerrard? Well, at last, it appears the debate has been put to bed.
The two players have long been considered alongside some of the greatest ever players to have graced the Premier League. But when it comes to ranking one above the other, it's certainly not the easiest task. After all, Scholes was a key cog within a Man Utd machine that dominated football in the UK for years, while Gerrard, almost single-handedly at times, carried Liverpool to glory against the odds.
Scholes answers if he was better than Gerrard
And while every fan will have their opinion, it feels as though perhaps the only voice worth listening to on the matter should come from one of the involved parties. This is why it was fascinating to hear Scholes' humble response when quizzed about the matter while speaking recently on the Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE podcast.
He said: “I can't answer that... Gerrard. Gerrard’s a great player… I'm not saying myself. We’re different, we’re very different…"
When asked to elaborate on that, he explained: "He’s an athlete. I think he’s more of a match-winner. But, he was playing in a team where he probably had to be. I was more part of a team. He was more individual I think… I wouldn’t be able to do what he did at Liverpool.
“Whether he could’ve done it at United, I don’t know. But I don’t see why not. But I couldn’t have done what he did at Liverpool, no.”
Even back in the day former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson seemed to struggle with the issue, playing Scholes as a left-midfielder at times to accommodate Gerrard as a central midfielder alongside Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, with David Beckham on the right flank. With that being the case, you may think this suggests the Swede didn't rate the Man United star as much as the others, but he actually once explained how he would play him out of position because he could trust to handle that different role.
When asked who was the best midfielder in the squad when in charge of the Three Lions, Eriksson explained: "If you look at all-around footballers, they are good all of them. But, if you look at Paul Scholes in a very, very good shape he can do everything with the ball. He didn't lose the ball. He could pass it short, he could pass it long, he could score goals. Fantastic footballer and a joy to see him playing football.
"What do you do with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham? You have to use them. Because if you take Beckham, he had talents that nobody else had. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were goalscorers, midfielders who were hard-working and could defend and attack. The best solution if we wanted to use all four midfielders was to put, at that time, Paul Scholes on the left."
He added: "To put some of the others to the left is not very good. And you want the four best midfielders on the pitch and it's always like that. You want the best football players on the pitch as much as possible."
Despite this, it appears that upon reflection, Scholes has a great appreciation for what Gerrard managed to achieve during his career with Liverpool. It would certainly be interesting to see what the current Al-Ettifaq manager would say on the matter if he was quizzed about it today.