Scholes scales it back
Paul Scholes accepts that playing two or three games a week for Manchester United is now out of the question. But the veteran midfielder is determined to win the English Premier League title back from Chelsea.
Scholes, 35, is building up his fitness on the North American tour and looks set to get another run-out tomorrow against the MLS All-Stars at the Reliant Stadium. Along with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville - who has stayed at home because of a calf injury - Scholes concedes they are given more rest now by manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
"I know that playing two or three times a week it is not going to happen any more. So you just have to be ready when needed," he said. "It is accepted, definitely, given there are that many games and at our age we have to be ready when the manager needs us. You train every day and I did not miss a day's training last season, which was good. I managed to avoid injury. When you are at a club like this you have to be capable of doing that, especially like last season when we had that many injuries."
United had to be content with the League Cup last year after finishing runners-up to Chelsea and exiting the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage when they lost to Bayern Munich. They finished one point off the pace and Scholes reflected on a spell in December when a number of defenders were sidelined at the same time.
"We didn't win what we wanted to but were not that far off. You do not want to use excuses but the injuries we had were shocking really," Scholes added. "Hopefully most of us can stay fit this year and hopefully we can go one step further than last season."
Nani could continue his comeback from a dislocated shoulder in the tour's showpiece match. The Portugal winger played all but the last 21 minutes in the 2-1 defeat by Kansas City Wizards on Sunday. "It was good to come back and play my first game this season. Of course I still have a lot of work to do," Nani said.
"When I missed the World Cup it was a very bad time. But I was thinking, 'I can't wait for the season again so I can play and score goals and feel the crowd behind me again'. Now I'm so happy to be back and I hope to get fit as quickly as possible because I want to play well this season."
Ferguson's hand has been strengthened in the United States with new Mexican recruit Javier Hernandez linking up with the squad for the first time. The striker had been on holiday after the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, where he scored two goals for Mexico.
Ferguson is debating whether to give Hernandez an immediate call-up. "We need to assess what he been doing physically in the last week or so," said the United boss. "We would like him to play a part in the game because there is a big Mexican population in Houston. We want to try and integrate him into the team as quickly as possible but we need to have a chat with him first," the coach went on.
Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea look certain to be rested for the match as they have picked up what Ferguson described as "niggling injuries".
Meanwhile, Sir Bobby Charlton has defended Wayne Rooney after the striker's disappointing campaign in South Africa. Rooney failed to score in the tournament with England going out at the last 16 stage after a 4-1 defeat by Germany.
In an interview with MUTV, 1966 World Cup winner Charlton claimed Rooney had been made a scapegoat. "He tried his hardest, did the best he could in the circumstances and yet he is the only one who seems to have been criticised when England did not have a good player at all." the United director said. "They build him up but as soon as he got the ball he had three or four players around him and he couldn't do anything, it was just impossible. And I thought most of the time he was not really supported.
"He knows he is a good player and he will be diappointed because they all would love to win the World Cup and they've got to wait another four years to have another go at it."