Paul Scholes Was Great But I Still Dropped Him
4 February 2012
ERIC HARRISON. It is not a name which is instantly recognisable in football; but it should be.
A former Manchester United youth coach, he discovered the famous class of ’92, which included Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham.
And, he even once had the temerity to drop Scholes, not a decision the firebrand youngster took very well.
“Paul was a gem to work with as a kid, as were all the other youngsters who made it through to United’s first team,” said Harrison, now a scout at Blackburn Rovers.
“Their professionalism even when they were kids had to be seen to be believed. Paul was just a brilliant boy and what a talent. Mind you, I had to drop him once.
“He was 16 years old and he had been suffering with shin splints. I had been advised by the physio to leave him out of a youth game, so I called Paul into my office and said he wasn’t playing.
“Needless to say he wasn’t best pleased. But that was part of the make-up of the boy. He was fearless and superbly talented; and all he ever wanted to do was play. We used to get pretty sizeable crowds watching the youth team and they all saw that we had some special players coming through.
“I’d say the vast majority of those fans came to watch Scholes. Word had got around that he was something very special and in those days he played as a striker. He would score from anywhere and the knack of finding the net never left him. All I can say about his tackling is, I had nothing to do with that.”
When TV pundit Alan Hansen made the infamous assertion that you “never win anything with kids” – a comment which was to backfire on him – Harrison said the former Scotland and Liverpool defender was simply guilty of not doing his homework.
“Alan had never seen these kids play,” said Harrison.
“He had never seen what we’d all seen; these kids coming through were phenomenal talents. My job was to nurture them and get as many into the first team as possible. I never had any doubts a stack of them would make it and neither did Sir Alex Ferguson. The gaffer used to watch the youth side all the time so he knew. Alan Hansen did not realise the depth of talent.”
Scholes’ return to the first team this season has thrilled Harrison, who cannot believe, 20 years after he was part of a team which won the FA Youth Cup, he is still playing at the highest level.
“I’m surprised and delighted in equal measure,” he said.
“I always thought there were plenty more miles left in Paul’s legs, but for him to leave the game then come backshows how much he loves football. Paul has always had his own satellite navigation system in his brain. Did you see his goal against Bolton the other week? He laid the ball off then moved effortlessly into the penalty box. The ball fell to him and he tucked it away with all the ease I remember he employed as a kid. It takes a real footballing brain to know when to move and where; and Paul has always had that.”
With Manchester City faltering in the league in recent weeks, United’s clash withfourth-placed Chelsea today holds real significance.
“United are in the title race, no doubt about it,” said Harrison.
“They have so many experienced players who have been there before and done it. That could be the difference. City have great players, too, but experience is so vital.
“Paul Scholes coming back to football brings the class of the Nineties back home for me. It seems another age, another time; but it was a very special period for the club. I know people say there is a lot of luck involved in getting kids through, but I don’t think so. My job was made easier because the attitude of the kids was exceptionally good.
“I was tough with them because, ultimately, I was judged on how many made it through to the top. But kids are the same as they have always been – they actually like discipline. Paul did and look where it got him.”
● ERIC HARRISON is Head of Coaching for McDonald’s, Community Partner of the FA. McDonald’s are
helping young footballers shine and over four seasons have pledged to train a further 30,000 coaches and support more than 6,000 local clubs and 400,000 volunteers.
Eric Harrison was the man behind the success of class 92 and also known as Fergie's Fledglings. He was the one that nurtured these incredible talents that mesmerizing the world of football. Though he is not recognizable but his work had be applauded by world when he discovered the famous class of ’92, which included Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham.
Now the 74 years not longer with United to coach the youth team but he is always been remembered especially by the kids he nurtured to be the world finest. It was said that he was the first one to be seek by Beckham and others when they win any cups or titles. They love him so much. And he knew that the class of 92 had so much class.
So when TV pundit Alan Hansen made the infamous assertion that you “never win anything with kids” – a comment which was to backfire on him – Harrison said the former Scotland and Liverpool defender was simply guilty of not doing his homework.
“Alan had never seen these kids play,” said Harrison.
Harrison now predicted that Manchester United Youth Team that win 2011 FA Cup will provide many talents for future United squad. He is right though United just offload the trouble Morrison to West Ham, Old Trafford still have many talents left for example Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Kean Twins, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Larnell Cole and Ezekiel Fryers.
These players surely will continue United supremacy in English and Europe football.