A mini-bus carrying five former Manchester United players in June 2017 struggled to leave Beijing University. On board, Paul Scholes waved and smiled at the crowd of students who surrounded the bus, taking pictures and shouting his name. One girl appeared overcome with emotion. Along with Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville, Scholes was in Hong Kong and then Beijing on a five-a-side tour where his passing was almost as crisp as when he played, even if his legs were not. “Do you miss all this adulation?” I asked as Scholes received more attention than any of his teammates. “Not really because I never wanted it in the first place; it just comes with what you do,” Scholes replied. “I do miss playing football and being involved in football. I’d like to manage, definitely. I’ll get all my badges sorted first.” Wind forward to October 2018 and a cafe in Manchester. Scholes is in the news because of his outspoken comments about Manchester United’s failing fortunes. Except that in his mind – and those of many United fans – they’re accurate. “I say what I believe,” he explained. “I don’t make anything up and I’m not very good at hiding how I feel. If people ask me something I’ll give my view, whether it’s right or wrong. I’m just a frustrated United fan, a father of a son who goes home and away watching the team.” We speak for an hour and the interview goes viral, more because of his criticism of United than his comments on Oldham Athletic, a fourth-tier team with average crowds just over 4,000. They’re based 15 minutes drive from his home on the outskirts of Manchester. Mike Phelan: Ferguson’s consigliere and a vital cog in Manchester United’s engine room for almost 20 years “My dad is an Oldham fan,” he said. “He knew I loved United, but going to Oldham was easy. It was ten minutes away, Oldham were a very good team and we’d stand on the Chaddy End terrace.” I asked if he still fancied management. “Why not?” he replied. “A manager is a coach these days. Sir Alex was a manager rather than a coach. Nowadays they’re coaches. I know I’d enjoy it.” Even the pressure and dealing with the media? “You don’t know until you do it. I wouldn’t say that I don’t care what the media say, but it doesn’t matter as long as you and your players know what is going on.” Did he enjoy the media work. “I hate the media stuff,” came the reply. So why did he do it? “Because I’m paid to do it and because it’s still an involvement in watching football – and I know that sounds sad. I enjoy watching live football.” With no obvious candidate waiting in the wings, where do Manchester United turn for a desperately needed ‘captain fantastic’? Three months on and Scholes was appointed manager of Oldham Athletic on Monday. He points to the Chaddy End below where we spoke, where snow and ice ringed the pitch. “The old Chaddy end, honestly you couldn’t stand up in there,” he said. Then he reminisced about Oldham’s greatest era at the start of the 1990s. “The runs to Wembley. It was little bit difficult at times because I was an apprentice at United. The one at Maine Road, I was in the Oldham end. It was 3-3, Andy Ritchie scored two.” He only started supporting United when he joined the club as a youth player. Scholes feels ready to be a manager now, having got all his coaching badges. He’s watched Oldham closely in recent weeks and thinks there are some really good players at the club which has gone a quarter of a century since the good times. He wants to play attacking football. He knows that people will be hoping he fails because he wasn’t afraid to be critical as a pundit. “I have left myself wide open. I have been quite critical. I don’t think we will get many pundits watching. If we are losing games I am sure people will be popping up. They can say what they want, I have never really understood why players and managers take notice of what pundits say anyway. They are just giving an opinion on the game and get paid for doing so. If anyone wants to have a dig at me, I won’t be taking any notice. The only person I answer to is the owner.” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer welcomes Alex Ferguson back into Manchester United family made by Matt Busby "It is great to have the best manager the world has ever seen on the end of the phone" New Oldham manager Paul Scholes will be utilising his vastly experienced connections. — Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 11, 2019 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> That owner, Moroccan Abdallah Lemsagam, who divides his time between Manchester and Dubai, has been accused of interfering with team selection. And with 25 managers in as many years, Oldham Athletic has been as stable as a house made of jelly. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t confident on that,” he says of possible interference. “Not confident, sure of it, Like I say he is interested in his football club, but he runs the football club and I run the football team along with my staff.” Scholes, 44, has good contacts in football and fully intends to share his problems with former boss Alex Ferguson and teammates Neville, Giggs and Butt. Loaning players from United is not out of the question. His players will look up to him because of who he was as a player, but also because of who he is as a person – a witty, dry, matter of fact northern lad who loves football. He’ll train with them and be better at passing than most of them. They can learn from him. He’s no complete novice either having assisted Warren Joyce coaching Manchester United’s under-23s. “How big a difference can you make?” asked a journalist at Boundary Park. “I don’t know because I’ve not done it yet,” he replied with a smile. He’ll soon find out, starting with a game against Yeovil Town on Tuesday night.