Sir Alex could ask Paul Scholes to orchestrate another vital Barclays Premier League win when Fulham come to Old Trafford on Monday night.

The veteran campaigner gave one of his best-ever performances against the Cottagers back in 2009 and also scored his only goal of last season at their West London ground. With Martin Jol’s side likely to try and keep things tight, Scholes may be asked to unlock the defence and provide the inspiration in midfield.

“He can dictate the tempo of games very well and the rhythm of our game,” said the boss. “He has the experience which helps him do that. He has a terrific football brain. The reason he wanted to retire was because he wanted to play 50 games, not 25, he didn’t think that was enough.

“I said to him at the time he would play 25 games for me no problem, but he didn’t want that. Maybe he felt that was maybe me not giving him enough appreciation. What I was trying to do was look at it in a sensible way and think what do you get out of a 37-year-old? How many games can you get out of him?

“The way we control Ryan Giggs [in terms of games he plays] – he’s different from the rest and we’re treating Paul Scholes exactly the same now. There will be games where we maybe leave him out, but we also know the games he can play in.”