Last updated : 26 January 2003 By Editor
From The Sunday Mirror

Paul Scholes may have been nurtured in the shadow of Eric Cantona, but only now does Sir Alex Ferguson believe he is emulating the Frenchman by becoming Manchester United's inspiration.

Comparisons between the pair were first made by Fergie almost a decade ago when Cantona was unleashing his magic and Scholes was cast in the role of sorcerer's apprentice.

And when Ferguson then asked the 28-year-old to take up a more advanced berth alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy last season, Scholes was to suffer an identity crisis that threatened his place in United's team.Twelve months on and Scholes is enjoying arguably the best season of his career.

It's a Mancunian grin that Scholes wears rather than the Gallic smirk of Cantona, but Ferguson admitted:

"He does remind me of Eric in so many ways. I thought when Eric left that Scholesy would become our new Cantona, but it never really happened because he was asked to play in central midfield alongside Roy Keane.

"I had Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke together up front and they were fantastic for us. The back-up came from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so there was no need to use Paul as a forward.

"He had a tough time adapting to it last year. It wasn't so much a case of him getting his head round the new position, it was more a case of him needing to realise just how good he is."Paul has shown a great level of maturity this season and I think he is in the best form he's ever been in.

It's the combination of all his attributes that has been so impressive. He's playing his part in the build-up, making goals for others and, with 20-odd games of the season still left, he's already scored 14 times.

"The opposition know the damage he can do, but often they just can't stop him because he's such a clever player. His ability to time his arrival in the penalty box is marvellous. It's a natural thing; it's the brain he has.
"The great thing from our point of view as well is that there's no chance of him ever leaving this club - unless Oldham come in for him because he's a big fan of the Latics!

"He has four years left on his contract, but even if there was only three months left we wouldn't be worried. Paul is a Manc boy through and through and he's nailed his colours to the mast as far as United are concerned. He's here for life."

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