Ferguson hails Paul Scholes after his goal puts United on road to victory
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Paul Scholes as “fantastic” after the Manchester United veteran made a goal-scoring return to Old Trafford.
Scholes bagged the decisive first goal in United’s 3-0 win over Bolton after coming out of retirement a week ago to inspire Ferguson’s champions back to the top of the table alongside rivals City.
The 37-year-old star scored on the stroke of half-time – after Wayne Rooney missed an early penalty against Owen Coyle’s side.
It was Scholes’ first Old Trafford goal in the Premier league since he scored against Fulham in February 2009, and Ferguson was delighted.
But the United boss had a pop at the critics who reckoned the veteran’s return was a sign of panic by United as they chase a 13th Premier League crown.
Fergie, 70, said: “He’s a great player. Some of the media have been negative about his return which is a bit pathetic but that’s probably because it’s United. He is still a fantastic player.
“He’s been in intensive training the last few weeks to get back to where he was today and he showed what he has had for the last 10 years.
“Our play was very good and we made chances. The penetration and running off the ball were very good too, but we had to wait until half-time to get the goal, which put us in a more comfortable position.
“And Paul Scholes popped up to score when he should have been sitting in the centre of midfield.
“But he has always had that instinct for goals since he was a kid and he has done it for us again today.
“ The crowd loved him because they love great players here. We took him off at the right time but he gave us over an hour of real quality and scored the important goal – he’s back!”
As United returned to the top behind City on goal difference, Ferguson called for more help for officials from referees boss Mike Riley after Peter Walton failed to send off Trotters centre-back Zat Knight yesterday.
Knight brought down Danny Welbeck but was only shown a yellow card when Ferguson reckoned it should have been red.
Fergie added: “I think it was a sending off but there has been a lot of inconsistency by referees recently and they should be getting direction from the very top.
“Mike Riley has got to come out and say players have to be sent off for two-footed tackles off the ground.
“It must be made clear it’s unacceptable if they change their minds because it’s confusing everyone.
“There has been a lot of debate but the referees need direction and everyone will be clear about things.”
Ferguson also saluted winger Antonio Valencia’s performance as “absolutely brilliant” but was not overly impressed with star striker Rooney, who missed from the spot and looked off key.
The Scot admitted: “Wayne had some moments but he can do better. Maybe missing the penalty upset him a bit.”
Harry Redknapp, meanwhile, insisted his Spurs side had not been getting carried away with talk of a title bid as they fluffed their chance to go level on points at the top with a 1-1 home draw against Wolves.
Midfielder Luka Modric cancelled out Steven Fletcher’s first-half opener but Spurs could not break down a stubborn Wolves side.
And Redknapp said: “I certainly haven’t got carried away. I have said it was possible to win the title – but it’s unlikely.
“If players think we have a chance to win it, good on them, I want them to have the belief that they can achieve things here.
“But if we finish above Arsenal – which we have only done once before in the Premier League – not to mention Chelsea, and we finish in a Champions League place, it will have been a great season.
“We can still be right up there at the end of the season but United and Manchester City are the favourites.
“We played some good stuff but Wolves are never going to just roll over. We saw all the top teams drop points over Christmas and you can’t just win every game.
“We wanted three points and we’re disappointed we didn’t get them but this is the sort of game where we might have got caught with a sucker punch and lost in previous seasons.”