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Scholes backs Moyes, says he needs time

The former United midfielder appeared on television in the UK to pass judgement on United's performance against City.

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Chris Brunskill

On the pitch last night, nothing but misery, loss and woe. Off it, though, a former United player slipped into the pundit's chair and, to general surprise, did pretty well.

Paul Scholes doesn't immediately scream punditry. As noted for his aversion to publicity as he was for his sublime passing, crisp technique and unhinged tackling, this is a man who once described his ideal day as: "Train in the morning, pick up the kids from school, go home, play with kids, have tea, get them up to bed, and then come down and watch a bit of TV." A man who hated interviews, loathed television cameras, and generally spent as much time as possible avoiding anything that even vaguely resembled off-pitch attention.

Still, it makes sense. One of the major problems that ex-pros face when they hang up their boots and pick up a microphone is that they don't usually hang up their friendships as well. The most obvious example is Jamie Redknapp, who has spent much of the season either fawning over or making excuses for his friend and former business partner Tim Sherwood. Scholes, by contrast, does not seem the type to pull a punch out of concern that it might affect future golfing plans. That detachment from the whole mess of footballing celebrity might, if this becomes a regular gig, be more valuable than any amount of natural love for the camera.

As for the substance of what he said, he backed Moyes — "He's only nine months into the job. You have to stand by him." — but expressed doubts about the quality of United's squad and the operation of the club during the transfer window.

In the summer he needs backing - there's no doubt about that. Was he backed as well as he could be in the summer? I'm not sure.

I think going forward we're alright, with the quality of (Robin) van Persie, and Wayne Rooney, and (Juan) Mata in his right position. I think we're alright up there, so it's probably midfield and defence where we need to look.

Fairly straightforward stuff, you might think. But perhaps something more sinister is going on. Over at the TelegraphChris Bascombe is of the view that Scholes's sudden and apparently unexpected move into professional opinion-having might, just might, signal the "first tentative step towards a silent coup to wrestle back control" of United. On the surface, Scholes said nothing of the sort but, by Bascombe's reading, he and Gary Neville's comments were, when taken together, "damning".

Interesting times. He also found time to make some less-than-flattering comments about Arsenal, which you can enjoy below: