Writing in his independent column, Scholes said: “When I try to find a way of summarizing the attitude of the team, and of some longer-serving individuals, I keep alighting on the word “bored”.
The former England international claims that he does not mean to sound outlandish but that the proof is simply in the team’s performance.
“It is not meant to sound flippant, but it just seems the most accurate way to describe the way the team seem to treat the style of football that once made them the best side on the planet…”
Scholes went to watch the Blaugrana take on Valencia at the Mestalla last weekend and was unimpressed by the attitude of Messi and his colleagues during their late 1-0 win, and he may just be right.
“For much of the game I felt they were a ghost of the side they had once been. They still pass the ball relentlessly, but that old drive and tempo are not nearly as urgent. The breathtaking speed and penetration have gone…”
To say that this Barcelona side compare even slightly to the Barcelona of Guardiola would be a lie. The ex-Manchester United starlet says that Messi, who has won six La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, and three Champions League titles could be finding it hard to keep motivated.
“As for Messi, his achievements put him in a different category to the rest of us who played the game. But even so, in him, as much as anyone, I detected that mood of boredom.”
Scholes added that Messi “…has never been a player given to chasing the full back when his team lose the ball, but now, more than ever, he keeps his movement to an absolute minimum.”
The Manchester United midfielder, who was part of the side beaten by Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League Final, says that current manager Luis Enrique has a tough task on his hands trying to motivate a team who have won it all.
“For a young manager like Luis Enrique, it will be hard to change the way Messi, and the rest of the stars in this team, play the game. They have won it all. They have conquered the world. Now Enrique has to find a way of persuading them to do it all over again, on his terms.
Luis Enrique in recent interviews has suggested that Barcelona are ‘right on track’ but fans tend to differ. Scholes suggests that you can visibly see Enrique’s frustrations, and thus failures.
“You could see him on the touchline trying, and largely failing, to get them to play with greater urgency.”
Barcelona currently sit in second place on the La Liga table, two points behind rivals Real Madrid. They will need a win at Espanyol and arguably a win every week here on out to keep pace with their bustling Real Madrid counterparts.
Is their La Liga title race over? No and far from it, for there is much of the season to be played. Are they still in the running for the Champions League? Yes, and with a win at Paris Saint Germain next week, could take the top seed in their group. So is this Barcelona side hopeless? No, not at all. But are they the Barcelona we know and love? Paul Scholes seems to be adamant the answer is no.