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Premier League

Sir Alex Ferguson hails influence of Paul Scholes


Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Paul Scholes has been a central figure in Manchester United's surge towards the Barclays Premier League title.

The Red Devils have been steadily turning the screw on Manchester City for the past few weeks and yesterday it seemed the Blues finally cracked, losing at Arsenal soon after United defeated QPR 2-0 at Old Trafford to give Ferguson's men an eight-point lead with six games remaining.

And for that, Scholes deserves so much credit.

United have taken 34 points from a possible 36 since losing at Newcastle in January, the moment Scholes came out of retirement.

And the 37-year-old sealed an eighth win on the bounce yesterday with a typically fierce finish midway through the second half.

"That was a typical Paul Scholes goal," said Ferguson.

"He has scored three since he came back into the fold and we have only dropped two points.

"You see the control of the game he has and the way he controlled the tempo of the game. That has never changed. At 37, he is still capable of that.

"He is a great player and integral to what has happened over the past few weeks."

That Ferguson was speaking before City's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal made it easier to keep a check on his emotions.

No matter how impregnable United's position, the Scot is anxious there should be no triumphalism until the work is over.

"I am pleased with our results," he said.

"There has been good consistency in our defending and now we are a goal better off and it is a game less.

"There are only six left now. Three at home, three away. Hopefully we can run it out."

Yet their latest victory did not come without a major slice of good fortune as Mark Hughes' QPR were reduced to 10 men when referee Lee Mason sent Shaun Derry off for a foul on Ashley Young, even though the United winger was clearly offside when he collected Wayne Rooney's through-ball.

"Ashley was a yard offside so I can understand Mark being angry at that," said Ferguson.

"There have been a lot of decisions like that recently.

"The boy has had a little tug, not a great one, but just enough to unbalance him and get us a penalty.

"Unfortunately, being the last defender, he had to get sent off."