Sir Alex Ferguson sent a personal plea to Paul Scholes to shelve any retirement plans and spend another 12 months at Old Trafford.
The 36-year-old midfielder is understood to be concerned by his lack of starting opportunities this season and has stalled over the offer of a new one-year deal.
But Ferguson believes he can still play a part next season and will try to talk him round after next Saturday’s Champions League final against Barcelona.
Asked if tomorrow’s final Barclays Premier League fixture with Blackpool will be Scholes’ last Old Trafford appearance, Ferguson said, ‘I don’t think so. We will try to encourage him to stay on another year. We will talk at the end of the season.
‘I haven’t decided on the line-up for the final yet and the midfield positions are the main consideration. Anderson has trained really well and Scholes has the experience. They will play on Sunday and we’ll see after that.’
Ferguson will allow Darren Fletcher every opportunity to be fit to face Barcelona.
Fletcher was suspended for the final in Rome two years ago and, without his midfield bite, United increasingly found themselves on the back foot as Lionel Messi took control and headed the decisive second goal in a 2-0 Barcelona victory.
The Scotland midfielder makes his first start in nearly three months against Blackpool and Ferguson hinted it could be enough to book his place, despite the strength-sapping effects of a virus that struck him down on the eve of United’s defeat at Liverpool on March 6.
‘It’s a case of juggling balls around and making sure we get the right mix and right energies for the Barcelona game,’ he said. ‘There are a few players who need a game and Darren certainly falls into that category. He is a big game player for us.’
Barcelona, who have already won La Liga, will rest seven of their regular starters…including Messi…for their last game at Malaga today.
by Terence Johns