Man United news: The day Sir Alex Ferguson lost it with Paul Scholes

  • Rob Swan

Manchester United legend Paul Scholes was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most reliable and consistent performers during the 1990s and 2000s.

The midfielder played 718 games under Ferguson, scoring 155 goals, and helped United win a host of major honours.

Between 1993-2013, Scholes won 11 Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, and two UEFA Champions League, plus the FIFA Club World Cup.

Famous for shying away from the limelight during his illustrious career, Scholes is often spoken about by his former teammates and opponents as one of the best players of his generation.

Most of his ex-United teammates have named him as the best player they played with, ahead of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and even Cristiano Ronaldo.

But did he ever receive the hairdryer treatment from his manager?


Scholes was asked this question during a fascinating one-hour interview on The Robbie Fowler Podcast, and the 46-year-old gave a detailed account of the time Ferguson tore him to shreds inside the dressing room after a 4-3 defeat away at Newcastle in September 2001.

“I had a few [dressing downs from Ferguson], some lads will say I didn’t have any like Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona but that’s not true,” Scholes told The Robbie Fowler Podcast.

“I remember one at Newcastle, when Newcastle were a really good team. He left me out, we were 3-0 down and he brought me on with 20 minutes to maybe, 3-0 down.


“We got it back to 3-2, I’m not saying it was anything to do with me, made two chances, made two goals, but nothing to do with me. Anyway, got it back to 3-2, we were flying creating chances.

“I tried a back flick in the middle of the pitch on the halfway line, they broke away and I think [Alan] Shearer scored, that made it 4-2. We got it back to 4-3 and then in the dressing room I’m walking in thinking ‘I made a difference in that game, I did okay’.

“I had a couple of chances where I should have scored but he went ballistic at me. You’ll never play for this club again and all that type of stuff because I made that mistake on the halfway line.

“I was never, ever one to answer back, people like Giggsy always answered back, even Becks would say something but, I don’t know why, I just kept saying ‘b***ocks’. I just kept saying that to him, no matter what he said.

“I was thinking ‘what the f*** am I doing?’, I’ve never said a word in my life, I was frightened to the death of the man! [Ferguson was saying] ‘you’ll never play for this f***ing club again!’. ‘B***ocks!’.


“I was on the way back on the coach thinking ‘I’m going to have to look for a new club here’.

“Monday morning, he came straight over to me. I’m thinking he’s going to fine me two weeks’ wages here. He said ‘I’m sorry, I realised you did make a difference in the game, what happened after the game was an overreaction. I’m sorry, we’ll just get on with it’.

“That was the quality of the manager. If he thought he’d made a mistake he’d quickly rectify it.”

Fair play to Ferguson. He realised he’d been too harsh and, despite Scholes’s bad response, was man enough to say sorry.

The highlights from the match itself show that Scholes made a big impact after coming off the bench for Andy Cole with 30 minutes left to play.

But conceding possession for Newcastle’s winning goal, and missing those two late chances to equalise, made Ferguson see the red mist.

Fortunately for United fans, Scholes and Fergie quickly patched things up and went on to spend another 12 successful years working together.

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