Speaking in Amsterdam ahead of tomorrow night’s game against Ajax, Sir Alex Ferguson has described what prompted Paul Scholes’ decision to retire and the positives that have come because of his U-turn.

“It’s hard to describe Scholes,” said Ferguson. “Honestly, on Saturday, he was unbelievable. I told Paul at the time he could play 25 to 30 games this season and he said that wasn’t enough. He decided to retire after that – he didn’t want to go from being a top player who’s in the team all the time to a player playing only 25 games a season. He was approaching 37 years of age and it’s difficult for players to do that at the top level. I was honest with Paul, though, and I told him that if I got 25 games of quality from him, I’d be delighted. When he decided to come back I saw no negatives. I was delighted. There couldn’t be a negative attached to it because he was training really hard in the couple of months before that. He’d realised he’d made a mistake. He’s come back refreshed and enthusiastic and his normal self in terms of his training performances. It’s been an amazing turnabout for us in the sense of the order and class he brings to the team. Barcelona talk about Xavi in the same way we talk about Scholes.”

Following United’s defeat to Barcelona in last season’s Champions League final Xavi, Busquets, Messi and Pedro all came to Scholes to swap shirts with him, although it was Iniesta who got lucky.