Paul Scholes might be unsure whether he's got another season in him but his manager certainly isn't. Both he and Ryan Giggs will be offered a new, one-year rolling contract Sir Alex Ferguson revealed yesterday. "We're sure about him," Ferguson said with a fond smile. "He knows that."
West Ham should probably have known last Saturday – the day after Scholes had mused that he wasn't "too sure" about the future because "I don't always feel I am making as much of a contribution as I'd like to" – would bring a trademark goal against them and the 35-year-old's performance in Wolfsburg in midweek was also a fine one. It's not often that Scholes plays 180 minutes in three days. Perhaps Ferguson was trying to tell him something.
"Every player in their 30s starts to wonder what's going to happen to them," Ferguson said. "But when you see [Scholes'] performance at West Ham, and at Wolfsburg there is no reason to think he can't do it again next season. The issue is, can he do it all the time, play in every game? He may feel he should play in every game but, of course, he can't. The best way to see him playing like he did on Wednesday night is to gauge the games in which we think he will dominate."
For Giggs, 37 next year, a new contract had seemed increasingly likely given the season he is having, and the question this weekend is whether he will also collect the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award tomorrow evening, to go with the Welsh version he collected earlier in the week. Jenson Button and Jessica Ennis look like formidable competition but the slight détente with the BBC which tomorrow's Sheffield event brings – Ferguson is understood to have pre-recorded a video for the event – may became a re-freeze if Giggs does not take the title.
"If Ryan's not got a chance of winning, then what does that say?" asked Ferguson, who in the treble year of 1999 picked up the ceremony's gongs for both best coach and best team and, two years later, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. "I just hope he gets the award he deserves." He rightly pointed out that longevity can be overlooked by instant success. "I think longevity should be rewarded," he said. "For some reason, sometimes a young sportsman or woman comes on the scene for one year and wins it. That is what Ryan has had to put up with all his life. Look at Tony McCoy. He's never won it either and he's been a top jockey for many years. Ryan is an example to young people because of his humility. He has never changed. And I think he is in the best form of his career, right now. He has retained that amazing quality in his game and also his enthusiasm to play."
The more immediate concern is overcoming Aston Villa this evening with a defence which, even with Nemanja Vidic restored, will have Michael Carrick as the other centre-back and Darren Fletcher at right-back. With the cavalry on the way – Rafael da Silva will be ready to take Fletcher's berth for the visit of Wolves on Tuesday according to the manager and Wes Brown will be available too – Ferguson was happy to scotch any suggestions that a loan move for free agent Sol Campbell was of interest to him: "I don't know where that came from. Someone said it was the work of his agent. Well, if it was, it was all wrong. Sol Campbell has had a great career but he's not a player we are thinking about."
The manager suggested that Rio Ferdinand was three weeks away from match readiness though the questions about Owen Hargreaves grow more searching. Ferguson's initial target date for him – 1 November – has long gone and he could not put a date yesterday on the return of a midfielder whom Fabio Capello would value as much as Ferguson. "He is doing most things, joining some periods of possession with us. Its just that confidence part to make the big step forward to get to the competitive par of the training. That's where we at."
United also announced a new contract for Danny Wellbeck, which will keep him at the club until June 2013.