Warren Joyce wonders if the seeds of Paul Scholes' surprise first-team return were sown when he trained with Manchester United Reserves last season.
The veteran midfielder's enthusiasm was rekindled while working with the youngsters in Joyce's squad after he initially quit football at the end of the 2010/2011 campaign and enjoyed a testimonial at Old Trafford in August.
Following a shock return in the FA Cup third round win at Manchester City in January, Scholes went on to play a key role in United's bid to retain the title that fell agonisingly short on goal difference and Sir Alex Ferguson has already stated that the 37-year-old will stay on for another year.
“It was good for them to train with Paul Scholes before Christmas,” Joyce revealed to ManUtd.com, when discussing his trophy-winning reserves squad. “To get him involved with training and see how to act properly. He didn’t want to not be top man. His pride wanted him to be the best player and he raised the bar in training.
“I think it was good for him as well. Maybe, he just trained like he did when he was 18 again and working under Eric Harrison in the youth team. He was at them and they were at him. There was great spirit – he was kicking them and they were kicking him!”
Joyce also insisted that Scholes and Ryan Giggs are the perfect role models for the likes of Larnell Cole, Jesse Lingard and Michael Keane - the trio he shortlisted for the Reserves' Player of the Year award. All three players have been at Carrington since an early age and have been able to learn from the elder statesmen at the club.
"You look at the likes of Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes, for all they have done in football, which is unbelievable," added Joyce. "Yet they are very humble and down to earth. Whilst these lads have done nothing yet, they are in a similar mould to that.
"I’m not saying they are as good as players or they will be but they are normal, humble lads who just want to be footballers and are not that interested in the other things that surround footballers and young players. They just want to work as hard as they can every day."