“Brian Kidd said to me, ‘He’s only tiny, he’s got ginger hair – you’ll probably have a bit of a giggle. But he can’t half play,’” said Eric Harrison, former United coach. “That youth side played on a Saturday morning. We called it the Dream Team. It attracted a fair crowd and their favourite was Scholes. And remember, United fans have been brought up on players like Duncan Edwards – they’re not stupid. The standard was as good as first-team training. And the manager saw Paul and knew about him.”
Twenty years later, Paul Scholes is still at United, and has just signed another deal to keep him here for another year.
Considering Scholes has no agent, the contract negotiations must be fairly quick and straight forward. Complying with the usual method for players over 30, Scholes has signed a year extension with the club.
“Paul is proof that if you look after yourself you can carry on playing and be rewarded at a club of this size,” Ferguson said. “He is 34 now and he has been here since he was 14. That tells you the desire and the ability he has to stay at the top.”
He picked up an injury in our recent trip to Denmark which will keep him out for ten weeks, but the manager holds no fear of him being unable to return to the first team.
“I am very confident Paul will be back,” he added. “He can play for at least another year. I have no fears about that. He has the same characteristics as Gary Neville, who has just come back after 18 months out. They look after themselves and you have to admire that perseverance and determination. Paul has come back repeatedly. He will be working away in the gym so that when he comes back he will be ready.”
Darren Fletcher, another product of the youth team, has been offered a new three year deal, which will keep him at the club until 2012.
“Darren is in the same vein as Paul, Ryan Giggs and Wes Brown in that he is a long-serving member of the team,” said Ferguson. “His consistency and level-headed approach is a great attribute and we are all delighted he has signed a new contract.”
Fletcher has acknowledged the honour of playing for our team and looks forward to any part he can play in our future achievements, after already winning two league titles, the European Cup and the FA Cup with United.
“When you play at such a great club with a great team you always want to be a part of that,” he said. “The spirit here is amazing and I am happy that I can play my part in achieving more success.”