Gary Neville: Wednesday morning, you’re driving to training, can you explain how the news was broken to you that Sir Alex Ferguson was retiring?
Paul Scholes: He came in to the dressing room on Wednesday morning. He called a meeting, just the players only, and he just broke the news to us that it was time for him to go. Obviously we were a little bit shell-shocked and everybody was quiet. It was a weird feeling. It was a strange morning. There had been rumblings on the Tuesday afternoon and I think he was a little bit disappointed that something had come out. I don’t think it was the way he wanted the players or his staff to find out. The players were shocked and quiet because it’s all we’ve ever known.
GN: Do you think that it was released before he wanted it to be released?
PS: I think so. You know how he is, you played for him, and he’s all for his players, and he gets behind his players, protects them, to help even if he’s not happy with something inside. To the outside world he will protect his players and I think he realised how important his players are to him and I think he really wanted us to know first.
GN: What did you personally feel? What was training like that morning? Was it weird?
PS: It was strange, yeh. I suppose, as footballers, you just get on with it don’t you. You lose big players, you lose a friend out of the team, and for a couple of days it does effect you but I suppose we’re quite cold people, aren’t we. Or is that just me? [Both laugh] You just have to move on.
GN: All the players have got their memories of him but what are you early memories as a kid coming through the ranks?
PS: The fear of him really. Just his presence, you’d know when he was in a room. You just have to be careful of what you’re doing and just make sure he’s in a nice mood.
GN: Are there any particular moments that stand out for you where you got on the wrong side of him?
PS: It was something stupid that I created. I didn’t really get on the wrong side of him, I refused to play in a game against Arsenal in the cup. We’d played Liverpool the day before and he’d left me out of the game, and as you are in those days, well, as I was, stupid, you’re young and you probably think you’re more important than you actually are. We were getting beaten 2-0 in the game as well and there was no sign of him bringing me on and I was thinking he should have done. But I had a feeling he was trying to wind me up and save me for the game the night after which was really, basically, a reserve game. I think we were going from Stockport station and I drove down to see him and told him ‘I’m not going’, which, when you think of doing something like that now, it’s just stupid. How daft can you be? To this day I still regret doing it. He fined me a week or two’s wages, and I was quite lucky it was just that. If you look now it’s probably a sackable offence. You’d have to say sacking wouldn’t be out of the question. He fined me two weeks wages, said that was the end of it, we shook hands and that was that. He didn’t hold a grudge or anything. As you know, he likes to deal with stuff there and then, and lets you get on with it.
GN: What do you think his greatest strength is?
PS: The way he protects players. I don’t think you’ve ever seen him come out in an interview afterwards and have a go at any of his players, no matter how disappointed he is with them. He’ll keep everything like that in house and that’s a great strength that not all managers have.
GN: How do you think the club is going to react to losing Sir Alex Ferguson in that dressing room?
PS: You just don’t know. Time will tell. David Moyes looks like a great appointment, he’s got all the credentials, he’s been loyal to his last club. I’m sure he’s had opportunities to go to bigger clubs but the job he’s done there has been great. For our manager to recommend him he must see some qualities in Moyes that he had as a younger man.
GN: Do you think the players are happy about the appointment?
PS: Yeh, I think so, yeh. I’m sure they’re all happy with the appointment. It’s probably a little too soon to really think about that. The news is really fresh in people’s minds. But when they come back in July and they’re ready for a new season, they’ll be right behind the new manager. It’s not a bad job to come in to, with twenty, twenty-two top class players to look after.
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