Paul Scholes has shed light on the way he used to stand on the pitch before each game as a kind of superstition during his time at Manchester United.
The midfielder came through the club’s academy and spent 19 campaigns under Sir Alex Ferguson, winning 11 Premier League titles in the process.
He retired for a second time in 2013, with his last appearance – his 499th for the club – coming against West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the campaign.
Speaking on BT Sport ahead of Man United’s 2-0 win over AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday night, Scholes opened up about how he used to prepare for games at Old Trafford.
“There were certain little superstitions,” he said.
“I used to have a little game of two-touch with either Dwight Yorke or Rio before the game. Then I just liked to come out and get a feel for the pitch.
“I used to come and try and stand in the position I played, try and get my angles, try and get distances because all pitches are different sizes believe it or not so you have try and imagine players you would be passing the ball to and as long as I had that in my mind I didn’t really care.”
This is, in many ways, the most Paul Scholes superstitions you could imagine. So much of the Englishman’s game was built around a kind of intuitive knowledge of the space around him, of where exactly players were and where they would run to, along with a faultlessly brilliant capacity for execution.
No wonder, then, that he spent some time out on the pitch, very much on his own, to assess the landscape before a game, as if imbibing its customs and rules for later exploitation. That, right there, is where you sense Scholes feels most comfortable: in the middle of the pitch, notably different to anyone else.