United talisman Scholes grateful he decided not to hang up boots

Paul Scholes has admitted that at Christmas last year he thought he would have retired by now.

The veteran Manchester United star is currently one of the most talked about players in the Premier League.

The England manager, Fabio Capello, tried – and failed – to talk him out of international retirement in order to play a part in England's ultimately dismal World Cup campaign and successive man-of-the-match performances in the Community Shield and opening day Premier League win over Newcastle United confirmed the 35-year-old was in top form once more.

Yet, while 2010 will go down as one of Scholes' best years as a professional, in his eyes, 2009 was one of the worst.

In an interview for MUTV with the former United European Cup winner Paddy Crerand, Scholes acknowledged yesterday that things were so bad, he was seriously considering whether to hang up his boots.

"At Christmas last season I did not think I would be playing in this one," Scoles admitted.

"I wasn't playing well enough.

"The season before last I had an injury for three months and then from Christmas onwards my form wasn't brilliant. Leading up to Christmas last year it still wasn't great.

"I wasn't playing as much as I would have liked but you need to be playing well to get into the team.

"I set myself high standards. I want to feel as though I am contributing to the team. If I am not doing that, what is the point of being here"" Scholes asked.

Fortunately, Sir Alex Ferguson had other ideas.

The United manager reassured Scholes that he was still making a valuable contribution to the Red Devils' cause and, after taking the club had come within a point of what would have his 10th Premier League title, Capello made his move.

Scholes has already admitted he regrets saying no to the under-fire England chief.

However, having made the most of the summer break does mean he is fresh at the moment and ready to make a positive impact when his appearances start to become rationed as the games mount up.

"The manager has handled me, Ryan and Gary the same way for the last couple of seasons and I am sure this season will be no different," Scholes said. If I am playing well enough, maybe I will play 25 or 30 games. You want to play every game, but at our age you can't."

Scholes has now put aside any talk of retirement and intends to keep going as long as his legs will permit him.

Ferguson recently spoke of the possibility that United's ageing heroes could maintain a career at the highest level until they were 40.

Yet even that date is not too far away, leaving the Salford-born player to contemplate what lies ahead.

"I want to stay in football," he said.

"I started my coaching badges towards the end of last season. Hopefully, I can get the first part done at some point this year."

The Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung believes there is still plenty of room for improvement from the club's players.

Two home victories over Newcastle and West Ham and a draw at Fulham to start the Premier League campaign represent the minimum required by Ferguson.

United are third in the table, two points behind the defending champions Chelsea who are the only team to still have a 100 per cent record.

But Park points out that there is plenty of football to be played and United's form will get better.

"We're pleased to have won two of our three games, but we know we can still improve," Park said.

"We are experienced enough to know that as we get more games under our belt, our qualities will shine through.

"It has been a good start for Chelsea but we are not worried about that as it is a very long season.

"Each team has their ups and downs and the real test for Chelsea will come when things are not going so well for them."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'