Paul Pogba was not playing well enough for Manchester United’s reserves to warrant a place in the first team before Paul Scholes’ comeback, according to the former midfielder.
Scholes’ return to Old Trafford in January 2012 — six months after retiring — has been widely reported as the key reason behind Pogba’s decision to quit United for Juventus at the end of the 2011-12 season.
But Scholes insists the Frenchman, now back at the club, did not deserve to be playing for the senior team at the time.
“Ferguson wanted me initially to come back and coach the reserve team with Warren Joyce,” he told BT Sport. “I said in September I’d come back. So I started helping Joycey, and I was training with the reserves.
“I was training every day with the likes of Pogba, Lingard, all these types of players. They were a really good side and I was really enjoying training. I was getting fit, I felt great, and it got to December time and the team was struggling a bit.
How did Paul Scholes’ Man Utd comeback happen?
• Jones and Fabio were playing CM 🙈
• Fergie kept it a secret 🤐
• Had to buy new boots from JJB 😂
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 17, 2018
“They had a load of injuries, no central midfield players were fit. They ended up playing Phil Jones and Fabio da Silva in central midfield in a game against Blackburn at Old Trafford.
“Funnily enough that was the end of Pogba, because he thought he should have been playing instead of them. But he wasn’t doing well enough.”
Scholes made his comeback in a 3-2 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in January 2012.
He played on for another 18 months, helping United win the title in 2013, the former England midfielder admits he may have prolonged his playing career for too long.
He added: “The manager gave me another year, but I was gone.
“I remember playing Tottenham at home, we got beat 3-2, I played alright in possession, but I remember [Mousa] Dembele and Gareth Bale cruising past me.
“I wanted to retire early again that season, but I thought it’d be embarrassing so I stayed on.”
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.