Paul Scholes column: My priority was winning games for Manchester United, not getting involved in protests against Glazers

EXCLUSIVE: I make no apologies for saying that my job was to win trophies

When the Glazer family bought Manchester United 10 years ago, I cannot remember a single occasion when the takeover was discussed by the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, with us players. We took our lead from him. If he was comfortable with the change and happy with the way the owners were treating the club, then we were too.

I know that there are many supporters who are not happy with the Glazers. As players, I have to say that within Carrington, our training ground, and at Old Trafford, nothing changed for us in May 2005. No one, from among the players and the staff, left the club. David Gill, the chief executive, stayed in place. Life carried on as usual.

I understand that the Glazers borrowed money against the value of the club and then used the club’s profits to pay that money off. They are business people and shares in United had been traded a long time before the Glazers invested.

Some fans’ groups may be disappointed that as players we were not outspoken on the matter. But you have to understand what it is to be a footballer at United. Your job, your only job, is to win every game you play. You are under pressure to perform in every training session, never mind every game. If the manager decides that you are not up to standard then there are others he can use instead. Two defeats on the spin is considered a crisis. Maintaining standards is everything. There is no room for  anything else.

 

For my whole career, I concentrated on that cycle of games from August to May and being mentally and physically ready. I never wanted to lose my place in the United team, much less my place at the club. What went on beyond the pitch was none of my business. As players, we were paid to do a job we loved – in my case, at the club I supported. And nothing I did could be allowed to interfere with that. The manager would not have permitted it.

I respect the right of supporters to protest, but I am not sure what the anti-Glazer fans would have wanted from the players. I would never do anything to damage United, whoever the owners might be, and I am sure that no United fan would want me to do that. My job was to play for the manager and take my lead from him. I was loyal to Sir Alex and I knew he always had the best interests of United at heart.

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Brothers Joel (right) and Avram Glazer

Had I been asked by supporters to say or do anything on behalf of the anti-Glazer fans, my answer would have been quite simple. My priority was winning games for United. And whatever unhappiness there was about the new owners, I know that the vast majority of fans at Old Trafford cared about one thing above all: whether we won or not. That was always our priority in everything we did.

I admire FC United, the club set up by supporters in opposition to the Glazers, for what they achieved in such a short space of time. I met one of their board members on a flight back from a Champions League game this season and I was interested to hear how they had accomplished their rise to the Conference North. The club I co-own,  Salford City, is one division below FC United. They have built their own stadium for £5.5m and they do not accept investors beyond their 4,000 members.

But as a United player, I make no apologies for saying that my job was to win trophies. As an elite sportsman you cannot allow yourself to be sidetracked by anything else. It was not up to me who owned the club, and it would never have been appropriate for a player to have got involved in that debate. Through the club’s history, United have been through ups and downs, and times when the focus from outside the club was on certain issues. But inside the dressing room, the aim was always simple. We had to keep winning.

Fernandes needs to show his ruthless side to revive QPR

The only saving grace of Queen’s Park Rangers’ relegation is that the club now find themselves in a position to clear out a squad which, in part, has been relegated twice from the Premier League. But it is one very small consolation amid a whole load of problems for the club.

I heard Harry Redknapp talking about the squad this week and he said that nine of the players relegated this season also went down two seasons previously. It does beg the question why the club thought that they would be good enough this time if they were not the first time around. They have 10 first-team players out of contract on 30 June and they have no choice but to start afresh.

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QPR chairman Tony Fernandes reacts from the stands

The chairman, Tony Fernandes, seems like a nice man but he needs to be ruthless now. He and Les Ferdinand have decided that bringing in young players is the way forward. I agree, but that takes time. They will need some good, experienced professionals to help them along that rebuilding process too.

It was a difficult situation for the manager, Chris Ramsey, to come into and he has not been able to turn around the squad. I don’t think he is an obvious choice to carry on in charge of the team.

When a team is relegated, a new leader can help turn the page at a club. QPR need that fresh start.

I hope that United fans would have applauded Gerrard too

I wonder whether Steven Gerrard would have got a final round of applause at Old Trafford, had he been playing there last weekend instead of Stamford Bridge. Some of my United-supporting friends would look at me in disbelief if I suggested that. But I also know that many of them, like those Chelsea fans, have a respect for a one-club player who has been a brilliant footballer over the years.

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Steven Gerrard plays his final game at Anfield on Saturday

I was glad that the Chelsea fans applauded Gerrard. It was just for a few seconds, but it did show that as fans we can look beyond our club rivalries when necessary. I don’t think it ever happened to me. Maybe when I got substituted at my testimonial! As a season-ticket holder in the Stretford End, I would have applauded Steven off the pitch – albeit just the once. There would have been a few in the seats around me who would object. But just as many who would have done the same.

Struggling England need a star turn like Pietersen

I am a keen cricket fan but I have found the England team harder to watch over the years. Increasingly these days I find myself turning the television off during Test matches. I cannot watch a team that wants to bat all day for 200 runs. I like to watch batsmen who will entertain and, as things stand, an opening spell from Jimmy Anderson is about as good as it gets.

For that reason I cannot understand why England have turned their back on Kevin Pietersen. He is the best batsman in the team but, more than that, he is the kind of player that you want to watch. As we say in my part of the world, he empties the bar when he comes out to bat. For young people watching the game, Pietersen is the man who makes you fall in love with cricket.

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Kevin Pietersen leaves the field after his triple century for Surrey last week

This is an England team that is struggling for a star turn. I like Jos Buttler, of Lancashire. He will have a go. Ian Bell can do it. Joe Root and Gary Ballance too. But Pietersen is different to them all. His age, 34, has been cited against him but that is nothing for a batsman. We’re asking him to make 100s, not play centre midfield.

I understand that Andrew Strauss has personal issues with Pietersen. That happens in any team. There were players I shared a dressing room with who didn’t like each other.

You don’t have to talk to each other. You just need to win matches.

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