Sir Alex praises Paul Scholes display
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hailed midfielder Paul Scholes for his man-of-the-match display in the 3-1 Community Shield win over Chelsea.
Scholes produced a superb performance, the highlight of which was a raking pass to Wayne Rooney in the build-up to Antonio Valencia's opening goal.
"He's just an incredible footballer," said Ferguson of the 35-year-old.
"It's a phenomenon that he goes out there and becomes man of the match approaching his 36th birthday."
The display justified Ferguson talking the former England midfielder - who rejected overtures to return to the international fold for this summer's World Cup - out of retiring at the end of last season.
"This time last year, he's saying to himself, 'This is my last season' - and a lot of people thought that," stated Ferguson.
"It came across my mind also, simply because he's had a lot of injuries in his career. He keeps coming back; it's not easy to do that.
Ferguson also praised striker Dimitar Berbatov after his goalscoring display in Sunday's game.
Berbatov - who scored only 12 goals last season - came off the bench to seal United's win at Wembley with a superb injury-time chip, after Chelsea's Salomon Kalou's goal had made it 2-1 with seven minutes left.
"He has great talent. You can't dispute the man's ability - he's a genius at times," added Ferguson.
"He had a mixed last season but maybe it's going to be his season now."
United captain Nemanja Vidic echoed his manager's sentiments about Bulgarian Berbatov, who came on at half-time and formed a promising link with new signing Javier Hernandez.
"It's important for him to score the goals," said Vidic. "He had a lot of pressure last year and I hope this year he will score more goals and we will try to help him do that."
Vidic suggested that the victory was the perfect springboard for his side to achieve success this season.
"I believe there will be more trophies and this is just the beginning," commented the Serbian centre-back. "We showed we have a good squad and we have the hunger and energy to win more trophies."
Ferguson also heaped praise on Mexican Hernandez, who has shone in pre-season and also scored on Sunday.
"He's quick to get in the box - he's a really good finisher," said Ferguson. "He's got a bubbly character and speaks good English. He's settled in very well."
United finished second in the Premier League behind champions Chelsea last season and Ferguson believes his side's positive display at Wembley - albeit in a game lacking the true intensity of a league fixture - is an indication of the readiness to challenge for honours again.
"I'm happy with the display," declared the Scot. "Some of the football was very good at times and we created chances and deserved to win it.
"When us and Chelsea play each other it is always competitive. Chelsea showed their desire in the last 10 minutes. It was nicely competitive but nothing too serious."
As important as their display was to Ferguson, equally vital was the chance to give some match time to those players, including England's Wayne Rooney, who featured in the World Cup and who were given extended rest during the summer following their exertions in South Africa.
He also indicated that the midweek international friendlies - widely criticised for their timing - could assist some players in getting back to match fitness.
"It was good for players to build up their fitness," he said. "I don't know if Wayne and Park [Ji-Sung] are ready yet but the internationals in the coming week are a bonus for them and I'm delighted they are involved.
"We've got so many players away but having the [first Premier League] game [against Newcastle] on the Monday helps us.
"I don't think anyone can understand why we've got an international friendly before the season starts but we've been given a bit of luck through that."
Michael Carrick was a surprise starter after Ferguson said on Friday the midfielder would be sidelined for two weeks and miss the start of the season with an ankle injury.
"On Friday, I was certain Michael was out for two weeks," revealed Ferguson. "He came in yesterday, says he was fit, wanted to train, trained, and wanted to play.
"The minute he says he's fit, we had to play him, simply because he needs game time."
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti felt his players were too slow throughout Sunday's match and were deservedly beaten but also believes the international friendlies will help in this regard.
"Tactically we played too slow in the first half but this can happen at the start of the season," said Ancelotti.
"It's impossible to ask our players to be quick after 10 days training before the start of the season. They have to improve their condition. It was important for them to play 90 minutes so this is a positive.
"The players playing in the internationals could be a good thing to improve their condition.
"Manchester played better than us. The positive is that it put more minutes on the legs of the players."
Chelsea's defeat came on the back of pre-season friendly losses to Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg.
"I am not worried about the defeats," added the Italian. "Now is the time to start winning and we have to look to the start of the Premier League."
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