WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
If Premiership bosses need answers as to how Paul Scholes became Manchester United's midfield king, perhaps they should ask a Salford van driver called George.
George Switzer was part of the famous all-conquering Red Devils youth team of 1992 which included Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and Robbie Savage.
Scholes suffered from breathing problems as a nipper and started at left-back with Switzer in midfield. Only when Switzer switched with Scholes did United start to see the birth of a midfield phenomenon.
Switzer failed to make the grade and now plays non-league at weekends while continuing his day job as a courier firm van driver.
“Paul Scholes had a few health problems when he was growing up. He had breathing problems and he was quite short. They tried playing him at left-back for a while but it didn't work out so I ended up playing there.
“For the final of the FA Youth Cup against Crystal Palace he was on the bench, but before long he was playing in the first-team in midfield and he hasn't looked back since.
“We didn't have anyone who was a natural left-back so they tried Scholesy there for a few games.
“In one game he got a bang on the head and they moved me into the left-back spot even though I'd never played there before.
“I was quite small then but Scholesy was even smaller. And after he got that bang they didn't fancy him as a left-back any more. They were a bit worried about him because he was very small and they were hoping he would fill out and become a bit stronger.
“He was very quiet on and off the pitch. He would always arrive with Nicky Butt because they lived in the same area, but Nicky Butt was always the one with plenty to say.
“David Beckham was a good player but not a great player. He never looked outstanding, but look how he progressed.
“Nicky Butt was the best player in the team. He was like Bryan Robson in his pomp and in many ways he overshadowed Becks at that time.
“They were all desperate to play for the first-team and they made every sacrifice to make their dream happen. It never happened for me, but it wasn't for the want of trying. People don't believe me when I tell them I'm not bitter about how things turned out, but I'm not.
“One afternoon Alex Ferguson called me into his office and told me they were letting me go. He said I was too short to be a left-back. I was devastated. Fergie gave me a hug and his telephone number.
“He told me that if ever I needed anything to give him a call. He was great, but I was heartbroken.
“But I still support the team, I sometimes go to watch matches at Old Trafford and I'm delighted they're doing so well this season.
Switzer still struts his stuff with Irlam FC in the Manchester League. And the dream lives on in his seven-year-old son, Keenan, who is already on Manchester City's books.
Switzer said: “Keenan is a United fan, but I won't care if he does well at City.”