Scholes, Manchester United’s puppet-master during those golden years, set the bar in terms of what a midfielder should do when pulling the strings and it was always felt that Rooney, later in his career, could to do the same.
At Wembley on Saturday evening, there was resounding evidence to suggest this is the position where Rooney’s future lies. As he ushered balls into danger zones, inviting those fliers Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard to scamper forward, it all began to make sense.
Louis van Gaal did not take a leap into the unknown when he thrust Rooney into a deeper position for the FA Cup semi-final but his performance against Everton opened up possibilities. If his days as an explosive striker belong to the past, the idea of him being United’s architect is enthralling.
‘I’ve known for a few years I can play that role,’ said Rooney, as he relished the prospect of playing his first FA Cup final since 2007. ‘I have done it a few times in my career. I watched Paul Scholes play that role for years and always knew one day that’s where I‘d play so I have tried to learn. It is still early days but hopefully if I keep playing there I can develop and get better.
‘If I can do that, I can free other players up. Obviously it is down to the manager, it is his decision. Is it something I can do for England? That is a decision for Roy Hodgson.’
Rooney did what a United captain should do at Wembley, buzzing all over the pitch, using the ball wisely and even getting back to make a crucial goal-line clearance from Romelu Lukaku in the first half. He set the example, as a veteran should. To use a word such as veteran in association with Rooney, 30, takes some consideration, but, as he spoke, you realised how well it fits: he is doing for this generation of United players what Ryan Giggs did for him when he arrived from Everton in 2004.
‘We’re all trying to win together,’ said Rooney. ‘When I joined the club at 18, Giggsy was about 30. I saw the help and advice he gave me at that age, so if I can help those young players in any way now I’m happy to do that. But they can help me as well. I’ve been enjoying it.’
As well he might. For all the criticism Rooney, his manager and the team have faced this campaign, goals from Marouane Fellaini and Martial - plus a brilliant display from David de Gea - have put them within 90 minutes of silverware.
De Gea was superb in the second period when Everton laid siege to United’s area, the highlight being his penalty save from Lukaku. It prompted Ander Herrera to call him the best keeper in the world and again made you think what would have happened had he joined Real Madrid.
‘I think he is very happy and you can see that,’ said Herrera. ‘If you are not happy in one place you cannot play like that, so it’s easy to say that.
‘We can be calm and optimistic, first because he is in a fantastic club and if we start winning trophies, it’s easier to keep world class players.’
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Robles 6.5; Besic 5, Stones 6.5, Jagielka 8, Baines 6.5; Gibson 7.5 (Mirallas 90), McCarthy 6.5; Lennon 7 (Deulofeu 70, 6), Barkley 6, Cleverley 7.5; Lukaku 6. Subs not used: Howard, Osman, Hibbert, Oviedo, Pennington. Booked: Barkley.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): De Gea 8; Fosu-Mensah 7 (A Valencia 62, 6), Smalling 7, Blind 7, Rojo 6.5; Fellaini 7.5 (Herrera 87), Carrick 7; Lingard 7.5, Rooney 8.5, Martial 8; Rashford 8. Subs not used: Romero, Mata, Memphis, Schneiderlin, Darmian. Booked: Rooney, Martial, Herrera.
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney.
Referee: Anthony Taylor 7.
Original source: I'm ready to play the Scholes role, says Rooney