Alex Ferguson has rejected the suggestion that Paul Scholes' Manchester United return is a step backwards. The United manager sprang a major surprise when he confirmed Scholes had come out of retirement ahead of the FA Cup tie at Manchester City last Sunday.
Ferguson had not even told his players, so determined was he for the news not to leak out prematurely. Yet, once the shock had subsided, many began to question why United needed the services of a 37-year-old and yesterday's departure of Darron Gibson to Everton has brought yet more claims that books are being balanced at Old Trafford.
"There were no negatives as far as I was concerned," Ferguson said in a joint interview with Eurosport and www.yahoo.com, carried out in conjunction with the League Managers' Association. "One or two people have been negative. They're making out it's been a 'regressive step' for Manchester United. How can it be regressive? You're getting a player for nothing, who's been part of the club for 20-odd years. He's not going to play every game but in terms of composure and passing ability, is there a better player going around? Definitely not."
Once the decision was made, Ferguson's biggest dilemma was ensuring the news did not leak out, not even inside his own dressing room. "I don't know how we managed it. We registered him on the Friday, and thought somehow it would get out. But we didn't let any of the players know simply because of the impact value.
"We were going away from home in a very difficult FA Cup tie against City. We had 5,000 fans at that end of the ground and as soon as they knew his name was on the team sheet they were fantastic, there was a great response."
Ferguson has always reflected on the fact Scholes is one of the easiest players he has ever had to manage.
Meanwhile, ahead of today's Old Trafford encounter with relegation-threatened Bolton, Ferguson recalled United's defeat to Blackburn on New Year's Eve and said he expected a very similar approach from Bolton, who remain in the bottom three despite taking seven points from a possible 12 over the festive period. "Any team that is down the bottom of the league, we have to address it properly," said Ferguson.
"We went into the Blackburn game with respect for them but we didn't get a good performance. When you are down there, that is the one thing you are guaranteed. "These clubs are fighting for their existence and we expect just the same from Bolton."