Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scholes Will Ensure United Stay Focused

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scholes Will Ensure United Stay Focused

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent

SIR ALEX FERGUSON will rely on Paul Scholes to guide Manchester United through any nerves to reach the Champions League Final tonight.

Scholes has been a key figure in the past when United have looked to secure European semi-final success. In 2008, he scored a spectacular winning goal to knock out Barcelona.

The 36-year-old is no longer the force he once was but his presence on nights such as these remains vital.

United are overwhelming favourites to progress to their fourth f European final under Ferguson after a 2-0 victory in last week's first leg but Schalke have already proved themselves capable of scoring a hatful on the road.

Last time out away from home in the competition, Schalke humbled Inter Milan 5-2 and any team containing the predatory finisher Raul -- the Spaniard tops the Champions League scoring chart with 71 goals -- cannot be dismissed.

Ferguson has one eye on Sunday's Premier League showdown with Chelsea but mid-table Schalke have no such concerns.

Doubt can quickly breed fear but Ferguson will look to Scholes to alleviate any tension in a manner far less extravagant than his 25-yard strike that saw off Barca three years ago.

Scholes's most recent contribution in a semi-final was his leg-raking tackle on Pablo Zabaleta in last month's FA Cup clash against Manchester City that earned him the 10th red card of his career.

It would be a discredit to a one-club icon who has played 672 club matches were that to be his last significant act.

Scholes will be required to dictate the tempo, ensure composure rather than calamity is the order of the day and maintain focus and professionalism. "f It is always dangerous in football to assume you have cracked it; that you have discovered some secret formula for success," said Ferguson. …

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