Fletcher's torment shared by Scholes

Veteran relives agony of being suspended for United's triumph in the final 10 years ago

Not for the first time in his Manchester United career, Paul Scholes struggled for words in his side's dressing room at the Emirates Stadium late on Tuesday night. What to say to a desolate Darren Fletcher, slumped before him and contemplating the red card which consigns him to three weeks of purgatory amid the build-up to the European Cup final in Rome? Scholes, who missed the 1999 final for the yellow card he received for his two-footed tackle in the late stages of the second leg of the semi-final against Juventus, simply extended a hand. "I don't think there's that much you can do," Scholes reflected. "I said 'Well played' and told him he was fantastic again, just as he was in the first leg."

Scholes' experience pales against Fletcher's because there were few arguments about referee Urs Meier's decision to book him in the Stadio delle Alpi in April 1999. "There weren't too many complaints about it," Scholes said. "This is totally different. It was never a red card, simple as that."

Last May's triumph over Chelsea in the final in Moscow helped Scholes bury his own ghost, of course, but there is a sense around United that the club have something still to prove. "Ten years ago we didn't manage to go on from that victory over Bayern Munich," Scholes said. "This time we've done that and managed to give ourselves a great chance of retaining the trophy. We know it's going to be difficult. But after we won it in 1999, we didn't get close again for a number of years. But I think now the strength in depth is there for everyone to see and hopefully we can win it again."

United are more than aware of the significance of retaining the trophy. Even before the season began, Rio Ferdinand revealed the players had sat in the dressing room of the Luzhniki Stadium last year and discussed winning it again in 2008-09. Scholes also shares the feeling articulated by his manager that United need a more prominent place in the firmament of sides who have lifted it.

"The sign of a big club, in European terms, is winning the Champions League," he said. "Liverpool have won it five times, Milan have won it a lot of times, Real Madrid and so on. We believe we should be up there with them. But you can't guarantee you're going to win it just from the talent you have. We said the same after winning it last year – that we wanted to kick on and win it again, like the Liverpools and Madrids have done over the years, and get into that bracket."

There are others for whom Rome promises to offer rich significance. They include Ji-sung Park, whose performance against Arsenal on Tuesday was arguably his finest for the club since he joined four years ago and who, having been one player to miss out on a squad place in Moscow, may well be in the starting XI this season. "I don't think he'll be disappointed this time," Ferguson said of a player he considers to be "one of the most under-rated players in the game".

Wayne Rooney is another who will cherish Rome more than most, having been a part of the United squad who went out in the group stage four years ago with a mere three goals from six matches and not even a Uefa Cup place for their trouble. Experience is what United now have and what Arsenal lacked at the Emirates, he said. "When I first joined I was 18, Cristiano was 18-19, Fletch [Darren Fletcher] was 20," Rooney said. "We had a lot of young players but over the last few years we've got the experience that's helped the team to progress. Arsenal [were] a young team with a lot of young players out there and I think that helped us as well."

His comments may raise a rueful smile from the Turkish goalkeeper Rustu Reçber, now at Besiktas but with Fenerbahçe on the September night in 2004 when Rooney, all 18 years and 11 months of him, smashed a hat-trick on his Champions League debut. But he, Ronaldo, Fletcher and Park have grown together at the club, learned to contend with counter-attacking European sides and offer something similar of their own.

* Suggestions in yesterday's Independent that Manchester United fans used racist language during chants about Patrick Viera during the Arsenal match on Tuesday were inaccurate. The chants were not racist and we apologise for any offence caused.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence