Paul Scholes was full of praise for Bruno Fernandes after the Portuguese playmaker once again underlined his importance to Manchester United.

A potentially tricky Europa League first leg against Real Sociedad turned into a rout thanks in no small part to Fernandes, who scored twice in Turin to help United run out convincing 4-0 winners over LaLiga opponents.

The result puts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on course to reach the last 16 of the competition ahead of the return fixture at Old Trafford, which takes place next Thursday.

As for Fernandes, he has now scored 33 times in all competitions since making his debut for the Red Devils on February 1, 2020. Only four players within the top five European leagues can better that tally: Robert Lewandowski (53), Cristiano Ronaldo (40), Romelu Lukaku (38) and Erling Haaland (36).

Club legend Scholes is certainly a fan of Fernandes, applauding a "terrific signing" for the way he always seems to make an impact every time he plays.

"He's been sensational since the very day he signed really," Scholes said on BT Sport.

"He makes the team play football and, you have to say, every time you watch him play, every single game he plays, he affects it, which someone in that position should be doing. 

"With the quality that he's got, you feel like he's going to score goals, he's going to make goals. 

"He's been a truly, truly terrific signing."

Fernandes has nine goals in all European competitions for United; only Inter striker Lukaku (11) has netted more across both the Europa League and Champions League since last February.

The 26-year-old's brace against Real Sociedad helped lead to the biggest away victory by an English side against a Spanish opponent in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, surpassing Newcastle United's 3-0 win at Real Mallorca back in March 2004.

Marcus Rashford was also on target to take his tally in Europe to seven for the season before Dan James added a late fourth for United, who tallied 13 total shots despite having just 40.6 per cent of possession.

Phil Foden hailed the work of "genius" Pep Guardiola and outlined his plans to continue improving after inspiring Manchester City to a 3-1 victory against Chelsea.

The England international set up Ilkay Gundogan for City's first goal in Sunday's clash and swept home Kevin De Bruyne's cross for their second just 157 seconds later.

At 20 years and 220 days, he became the second youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Chelsea since Jermain Defoe in September 2002.

De Bruyne extended the visitors' lead before half-time at Stamford Bridge but it was Foden who earned particular praise from boss Pep Guardiola after the game.

"I'm so proud," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "He never dropped one bit of his energy he can play up front in all four positions. 

"He has a sense of goal, he scored a fantastic goal. We rely on him incredibly.

"For England as well he will be a top player because he's so clever and calm. He made another great performance."

Foden has now been directly involved in 14 Premier League goals – finding the net nine times himself and setting up five more for his team-mates.

That is as many as Manchester United legend Paul Scholes managed at the same age, only strengthening comparisons made between the pair.

He completed all 16 of his passes in the opposition half against Chelsea and created four chances, which is more than any other player on the field.

However, having struggled to hold down a place in the side this term, the City academy product is refusing to get too far ahead of himself.

"I still have a lot to learn," he said. "There's quality players here. Riyad Mahrez on the bench today could easily play. 

"There's quality players at the club and I just have to keep doing well each time and improving.

"The manager's praise means a lot when you put 100 per cent into a game. It feels nice. I'm enjoying my football and I want to keep enjoying it."

Foden started on the left side of a striker-less attack for a City side depleted by a coronavirus outbreak in their camp, leaving them without six squad members for the match.

The Citizens' victory was their third in a row in the Premier League, moving them to within four points of top spot with a game in hand, but was their first over one of last season's top-six finishers this term at the fifth attempt.

City dropped off in the second half and Callum Hudson-Odoi pulled one back for Chelsea in stoppage time, though Foden was delighted with his side's overall display at Stamford Bridge.

"It gives you the confidence, coming here and getting a result how we did," he said. "It gives everyone confidence in the training room and we want to keep pushing and playing like this more often.

"The first half was brilliant. To be three goals up, it's not always easy to go into the second half three goals up and play the same way. 

"You could probably tell the second half we dropped off a bit and let them have it. Overall it was a great performance and doesn't put us in a bad position with the games in hand.

"We've played good every game but just not finished our chances. Today was a brilliant performance and much more clinical in the final third.

"We had that little break after the last game and maybe that helped us out to have the energy today. It was a great performance, everyone played top today.

"We always have great tactics going into big games like this – Pep's a genius at things like this. 

"As you can tell we played the right way and we definitely done them staying high and wide and going down the flanks. It was something we did well."

Paul Scholes said Manchester United's defending was "like under-10s football" after they gifted a calamitous goal to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.

United went forward en masse for an early corner and kept nobody back to guard against their Turkish hosts' counter-attacking.

As soon as United lost the ball, Edin Visca pumped a long ball upfield from inside his own penalty area and Demba Ba was able to run unchecked from inside his own half before beating Dean Henderson.

"That's completely down to organisation," Scholes said. "At a corner you surely always have someone back on the halfway line."

Speaking on BT Sport, former United midfield general Scholes pointed to assistant manager Mike Phelan telling Nemanja Matic that he should have been covering the possible break.

"It's like under-10s football," Scholes said. "You can understand it if it's the last minute and you're going for a goal."

This took place in the 12th minute, however, and for Scholes there was no excuse.

"It's embarrassing," Scholes said. "What the back four were doing, I've no idea.

"Defensively they've got to take responsibility. You've got to defend one-v-ones at times at Manchester United and they seem incapable of doing it."

Fellow former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves was equally baffled by the blunder from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

"I'm not sure I've ever seen a goal like it," Hargreaves said.

"The problem is the players are waiting for a cross that doesn't really materialise and they never really get back.

"One ball up the pitch and Demba Ba's in on his own."

Paul Scholes appears to have changed his tune about Anthony Martial, accusing the Manchester United striker of "misleading" fans over his goalscoring prowess.

Martial enjoyed his best season in 2019-20, putting early injury problems behind him to score 23 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions.

The France international was named United's Players' Player of the Year as he repaid the faith shown by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, spearheading the attack to help the Red Devils finish third in the Premier League and reach three cup semi-finals.

In August, Scholes said Martial had finally convinced him he was capable of playing as a central striker, telling BT Sport: "I thought, 'Was he a number nine, or is he a wide player?'

"He's turned himself into a number nine with every game I watch, more and more, so it's great to see. When he's square on to a player and runs at them, I think he's unstoppable."

However, with Martial having failed to score or set up a goal in 2020-21, former United star Scholes feels "almost conned" by the forward's past performances.

"These forwards are exceptionally talented lads. We all know that," he told Stadium Astro. "The problem with United’s forwards is that none of them is an actual centre-forward.

"Martial almost conned us into thinking he was one at the end of last season because he scored so many goals and was quite good.

"He's started this season quite poorly again, which makes you think he isn't. It's misleading. That's why I've kept saying we need a top-class number nine."

Since Scholes' positive comments two months ago, Martial has played just 207 minutes of Premier League football.

While he has failed to score, he has also not been presented with a certified big chance and has only attempted two shots, highlighting the wider problems within the United side.

Solskjaer's men lost to Crystal Palace on the opening day and, after a fortunate win at Brighton and Hove Albion, they were thrashed 6-1 at home by Tottenham.

Martial was sent off in that match, meaning he will be suspended for Saturday's visit to Newcastle United.

Paul Scholes has been placed in temporary charge of Salford City after the League Two club dismissed Graham Alexander on Monday.

The Manchester United legend had an ill-fated 31-day spell in charge of fellow fourth-tier club Oldham Athletic last year.

He is stepping in on a caretaker basis after Salford, unbeaten in the league this season, decided to terminate Alexander's contract after a reign that started in May 2018 and included promotion from the Conference National.

Scholes' first game at the helm of Salford, who surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, will come at Port Vale this weekend.

The 45-year-old is one of the part-owners of Salford, with former United team-mates David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville also invested in the club.

It did not take long for Thiago Alcantara to show the Premier League exactly what he can do on his Liverpool debut.

The new Reds midfielder, signed just two days before the trip to Chelsea, came off the bench at half-time at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Champions Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners against the Blues' 10 men, with Thiago quickly finding his passing rhythm in the centre of the pitch.

Opta shared after the match that Thiago had completed 74 passes, more than any other Premier League star when playing a half or less since detailed passing data began in 2003-04.

But there was more to the former Bayern Munich man's bow than that one statistic, as Opta's advanced metrics allow us to explore...

STANDOUT STAT TOPS SCHOLES

The list of other players to have managed 60 or more passes in 45 minutes or fewer in the Premier League shows just how impressive Thiago's achievement was.

Andreas Christensen (66 passes) - for Chelsea against Sheffield United in July - is perhaps a slight surprise in second place, as is Jose Fonte (62) - for Southampton against Bournemouth in 2015 - in third. But the rest of the names in this elite group are far more predictable.

Paul Pogba is one of three players to have tallied 61 successful passes in such a cameo, doing so after replacing Scott McTominay in Manchester United's 4-1 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day last year.

The other two stars to reach the number did so in quite staggering circumstances, meanwhile.

Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes each totalled 61 passes in significantly less than a half, the Manchester City man incredibly playing only the final 17 minutes of a 7-2 win at home to Stoke City in 2017.

United pass master Scholes was on the pitch for a little longer - 28 minutes - as he helped Alex Ferguson's side to clinch a record-breaking 19th title at Blackburn Rovers in 2011.

Coincidentally, as City stole that crown 12 months later, Toure played 60 passes in the first half against Queens Park Rangers despite battling a hamstring injury.

Thiago's feat, while perhaps not quite as impressive as Toure's or Scholes', puts him in esteemed company just 45 minutes into his Premier League career.

 

ALREADY LEADING LIVERPOOL

That final tally of 74 successful passes from 82 attempts was more than any Chelsea player managed in the entire 90 minutes on Sunday. But some of Thiago's numbers also led a dominant Liverpool team.

The Spain international attempted 63 passes in the opposition half and completed 56 - both numbers were the most of any individual at Stamford Bridge.

The contrast from the first half with captain Jordan Henderson was evident, as the man Thiago replaced attempted 24 passes in this regard and completed just 16 - albeit one failed effort prompted Christensen's red card.

Henderson and 86th-minute substitute Takumi Minamino were the only visiting players not to complete 20 passes in the Chelsea half, while Mateo Kovacic - 14 of 16 attempts successful in Liverpool's half - was some way short as the hosts' top performer.

No team-mate could rival Thiago, though.

NO GOALS, NO ASSISTS, NO PROBLEM

Despite his control of the game, Thiago's passes were unlikely to appear on highlight reels of the Liverpool victory. Yet Jurgen Klopp knew what he was getting.

"I liked it, I liked his game a lot," the manager told Sky Sports. "Defensively was tricky for him because we set it up differently, but offensively, with the ball, yeah, that's him. He wants to pass the ball."

Goals and assists are not really Thiago's game. He trailed Henderson in both regards in his final season in Germany.

But the midfielder is found at the heart of almost any move, having been involved in 141 sequences that led to a shot for Bayern last term.

Thiago played a part in the build-up to five open-play shots on Sunday, including the first goal as he traded passes with Sadio Mane and then pushed the ball on for Naby Keita to switch the attack to the right flank.

Indeed, no player made more forward passes in the opposition half than Thiago's 25, while the variety of his balls opened up the pitch as he completed a game-high 10 long passes.

Liverpool fans will now be relishing the opportunity to see what their new man is capable of over a full 90 minutes - potentially starting against Arsenal on Monday.

Jadon Sancho would have made the difference for Manchester United in their Europa League semi-final against Sevilla, according to Paul Scholes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men squandered numerous chances in a 2-1 loss to Sevilla in Cologne.

United have been heavily linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund star Sancho, who scored 20 goals in 2019-20.

Former United star Scholes believes the Premier League club need to spend money on an attacker, saying Sancho would have delivered in Germany.

"I don't think they played badly, I thought they were really good against a really good Sevilla team, but that 15, 20 minutes after half-time, with all them chances, you've got to score them," Scholes told BT Sport.

"We're talking about quality, we talk about spending money on centre-forwards and wide players, and you talk about hundreds of millions these days to get these players, but these are the players that win you trophies, these are the ones that win you medals.

"We know all this Sancho thing is going on, but they need to start spending the money. If they want to win trophies, they've got to start spending the money.

"Okay, created chances tonight, but if Sancho was in that team tonight I think United are scoring."

Winners of three Europa League titles since 2014, Sevilla will face either Inter or Shakhtar Donetsk in the final on Friday.

Anthony Martial looked a "£100million player" and was labelled a "Ferrari" by Owen Hargreaves after Manchester United's Europa League win over Copenhagen. 

France forward Martial won the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes scored to send United to the semi-finals via a 1-0 extra-time win in Cologne on Monday. 

The Red Devils had 14 shots on target and hit the woodwork twice in the quarter-final tie, with Martial impressing while leading the line. 

His performance drew praise from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said: "He was sharp. 

"Anthony has developed throughout the season, he was involved with the penalty. 

"He's impossible to stop at times when he gets the ball into his feet and he drives at people, his balance, he can go either way.  

"The only thing now is to put that ball in the back of the net again. I'm delighted with his performance, though." 

Former United midfielder Hargreaves was equally effusive of his praise when commenting on Martial's fine performance for his role as a pundit for BT Sport. 

"Everyone's got an opinion on Martial. He's a Ferrari," he said.  

"He just looked like a £100million player." 

Ex-United forward Robin van Persie was also impressed by what he saw and described Martial as "world class". 

"The outstanding player for me tonight was Martial," Van Persie said. "When he switches it on, he's just too fast, too silky and wow, what a player. 

"He is such a joy to watch. It's like he's having a kick-about in his own garden. 

"What I like about Martial is he has an eye for his team-mates – he isn't just playing for himself. He always has an eye for his team-mates and that's what sets him apart from very good players.  

"That's why I think he's world-class. He can provide, he can give assists, he dribbles, he's fast but he has great awareness of what's around him." 

United legend Paul Scholes joined in the praise of Martial, who he feels is developing into a quality centre-forward. 

"I like him, I've always liked him," Scholes said. "I thought is he a number nine or is he a wide player? He's turned himself into a number nine with every game I watch more and more. 

"I think when he squares a player up and gets a run at him, I think he's unstoppable. I don't see how you stop him. He's only started showing it lately. 

"He's got everything, he can beat a man, he can score goals, he's got everything you'd want in a centre forward."

Sven-Goran Eriksson believes his England starting XI was stronger than the current generation, but feels Gareth Southgate's overall squad is more impressive.

Eriksson became the first non-British manager to be appointed England boss when he left Lazio to take over in 2001, turning around their qualification campaign for the 2002 World Cup and securing a spot at the tournament in Japan and South Korea.

With the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen, the Three Lions were fancied to make an impact.

But they were beaten by eventual champions Brazil in the last eight. Two years later they fell at the same hurdle in Euro 2004 to Portugal, who also sent England packing in Eriksson's final tournament in charge – the 2006 World Cup.

One of the main legacies of Eriksson's time in charge was a perceived inability to get the best out of England's so-called 'golden generation', but he thinks Southgate has more options at his disposal.

When asked if he feels the current England team was better than his, Eriksson told Stats Perform News: "Maybe not, but they have more choices today than we had.

"Number 20, number 21, the quality went down a bit. It's easier today, there are many hugely talented football players.

"They did well at the last World Cup, they will be even better in the next Euros. It's a new generation. They are young, they are good.

"They have a lot of quality all over. It looks like a very hungry team. They have a lot of pace and that's important.

"If you defend well, then you will be very strong in counterattacks and then, you have a born goalscorer [Harry Kane], and you need that man who can score [many] goals in a major tournament."

Recently, Eriksson was criticised by Ferdinand for apparently urging the former Manchester United centre-back to not play out from the back – but the Swede insists that was not the case.

"He was one of the best central defenders in the world, maybe the best, and as he rightly said, he could play," Eriksson added. "He was a very modern central defender. Football was different then.

"Everybody wants to play like Barcelona, but not everybody should. Not everyone can play like Ferdinand. But that back four was very, very strong.

"I always in all my career was very keen not to lose the ball when we have it in our own half of the pitch: you give opportunities to your opponents to create.

"If you're going to lose it, then do so up front, but if we could play in a secure way from behind, then do it, if not then don't make life difficult for us. But I never ever said don't play from the back."

Euro 2020 was due to start on Friday, but due to the coronavirus pandemic it was postponed for 12 months in March.

England will face Croatia, Czech Republic and as yet undetermined third team, who will be decided by the qualification play-off, when the tournament takes place from June 11, 2021.

Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham. The names are synonymous with Manchester United but the iconic 'Class of 92' sextet are behind the rise of League Two outfit Salford City.

All eyes have been on previously unheralded Salford since the former United stars completed a takeover in 2014, with the help of businessman and Valencia owner Peter Lim, who is the largest single shareholder at 40 per cent. Beckham became a co-owner alongside the Neville brothers, Scholes, Giggs and Butt last year.

It has been a rapid rise for Salford - four promotions in five seasons seeing the club go from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the fourth tier of English football for the first time in the history of the 80-year-old team.

Salford are now a full-time operation, far removed from the part-time outfit purchased by the 'Class of 92' six years ago, but there is no intention of slowing down. Reaching the Championship by 2029 was the initial target, with Premier League promotion and a fairy-tale date with United the ultimate dream for the group of former Red Devils, who won the treble at Old Trafford during their illustrious careers in Manchester.

Cameron Burgess swapped Scunthorpe United for Salford on loan at the start of the 2019-20 season and the former Australia youth international, who reunited with Graham Alexander at Moor Lane, told Stats Perform: "You hear about how the club is run and the first thing you hear is ambition, success. That's what it is all about. It's not so much that we have the resources and we're this and we're that, it's just success and that's what we want and you need to help us achieve that."

"Some people expect our owners down there, almost on the training pitch everyday sort of thing," he added. "It's not like that. It's the same as every other owner, they're very hands-on with things they need to deal with. But we have a manager and assistant manager who've played in the Premier League, it's not like they don't know what they're doing. Everyone does their own jobs, it's like not David Beckham is down on the pitch taking free-kicks. They're as hands-on as they need to be from an off-field perspective."

It is an ambitious and exciting project in Salford, where the Ammies were the subject of a popular documentary, detailing their rise to prominence in 2015. And expectations are high.

"You don't have to be told [about expectations]. It's there, you can see it," Burgess said. "Previous promotions, plastered on the walls. It's all there for everyone to see. You definitely feel that pressure but it's pressure in a good way. It's everyone moving in the right direction and making sure we're successful. It's that pressure to meet expectations but in a good way… it's what you want and what you play for to be able to succeed. You feel that as soon as you walk through the door."

Salford are a club close to the hearts of the 'Class of 92'. Scholes was born in the town, Giggs was raised in nearby Swinton, while the Neville brothers grew up in neighbouring Bury.

The co-owners have overseen improvements on and off the pitch, transforming Moor Lane into a 5,100-capacity arena with four new stands, modern seating, executive boxes and corporate hospitality. But the investment has not been without criticism.

Some supporters were frustrated when the team's badge and colours were changed from tangerine and black to red and white. Salford have also been previously dubbed the non-League Manchester City for their spending. Gary Neville was embroiled in a public spat with Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt in 2018 after being accused of "trying to steal" a Football League spot by signing Adam Rooney from Aberdeen.

"It's funny because obviously the people who criticise and say these things don't always know the full story and they don't know the reason behind things. It's all about the success. People on the pitch inside football, they probably know that a bit more, it's not that same vibe," Burgess said.

"We're sort of everyone's derby because they want to beat us and impress to show they can be the ones in our shirts. That's how it'll always be. The spotlight will always be on you, but you have to thrive on."

Salford were 10th in League Two and eight points outside the play-off positions when the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, vying for a fifth promotion in six years.

"It's definitely strange because we've never been in this situation before. It's like an off-season. We've been told and we're pretty confident the season will restart, so we're staying fit and keeping healthy," said Burgess, who is representing Salford in the EFL Football Manager Cup.

"At Salford, it's been pretty much business as usual. They've been great in taking away the outside noise and making sure we're just focusing on what we have to do. We've been working hard as a team on Zoom et cetera. It's keeping fit and healthy as best we can. It's been pretty enjoyable."

It has been a challenging and unusual situation for Burgess and Salford, with the squad training individually amid the COVID-19 crisis, but the former Fulham defender added: "It's been pretty interesting, especially for me. I'm one of those that if you get me out on the grass, everything flows. The competitive edge takes over, it's another world. Whereas when you're by yourself, you just have to be on it.

"We have these little Zoom sessions and challenges, but it's interesting to hear what's important. You learn a bit more because you have to know what you're doing and what makes a difference. When you're on the pitch, it doesn't really matter why you're doing it, you're just doing it cause it's going to win or get an advantage. We're doing movements on the grass you don't realise you're doing, whereas when you're by yourself, you have to keep on top of those things."

Marcus Rashford admits it "would have been a dream" to play with Paul Scholes at Manchester United.

Forward Rashford revealed his admiration for the club legend - who retired in May 2013 - when the duo appeared together on an episode of United's official podcast.

Scholes played in 718 games for the Red Devils after coming through the club's academy system, transforming from goalscoring midfielder to deep-lying playmaker in the final stages of his outstanding career.

His passing abilities would be ideal these days to pick out the runs of Rashford, who had scored 19 goals in all competitions this season before suffering a back injury.

"It would have been a dream to play with someone like that," Rashford said during UTD Podcast. "The biggest thing for me is range of passing.

"Probably the closest thing to that was when Wazza [Wayne Rooney] was playing a bit deeper and it was just so enjoyable to play as a number nine in those games when he was in that position. Similar with Carra [Michael Carrick] as well.

"As soon as they get the ball they look forward and want to play forward, not only to feet but in behind a lot of the time. As a forward that's all you want.

"As long as someone is seeing the passes and trying to make them, that's what you thrive on."

Scholes was well aware of Rashford's talents before he burst into the first team by scoring two goals on his debut in the Europa League in February 2016.

However, the former England international revealed he has been surprised by one development in the frontman's career.

"I always remember seeing him as a kid and I thought his intelligence and movement was as a centre-forward," Scholes said.

"He looked like an out-and-out number nine, but now when you see him in games, he seems to enjoy it more from the left-hand side."

Paul Pogba says the "unbelievable" experience of learning from Paul Scholes and Andrea Pirlo helped him to become a top-class midfielder.

The France star made his Premier League debut for Manchester United in 2012 alongside Scholes at the heart of midfield, the year in which he left for Juve on a free transfer.

Winning three consecutive Serie A titles alongside Pirlo in Turin was a further positive experience for Pogba before he returned to Old Trafford in 2016.

The 27-year-old says playing and training with such cultured midfielders helped him to develop after he spent part of his youth career as a centre-forward.

"You learn a lot and you look at them," Pogba told the UTD Podcast. "I really learned and have been learning. It was unbelievable for me, seeing them training like that, and it pushed me.

"Okay, I have to work hard and have a lot more to do. Pirlo and Scholes, those are midfielders who control the game, the players to look at, and I learned from them, a lot.

"I started as a striker and then a number 10 and then a number six. Thank God, I didn't go to centre-back! It was because I wanted to touch the ball too much.

"I was the striker and dropping too much, so one coach told me: 'Okay, play the number 10 and touch the ball more.' I still loved the ball too much and had too many touches, so he put me at number six."

Pogba had been close to returning to first-team action when the English season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He has made only eight appearances for United in 2019-20 because of foot and ankle injury problems.

Frank Lampard joked he was stunned by Roy Keane's praise for Billy Gilmour and believes his fledgling Chelsea midfielder has traits similar to another Manchester United legend in Paul Scholes.

Scottish teenager Gilmour was thrust into action in an FA Cup victory over Liverpool in March and followed up a Man-of-the-Match display in that game with a fine showing in a 4-0 hammering of Everton.

The suspension of the Premier League due to the coronavirus pandemic stemmed the 18-year-old's promising momentum but his performance against Liverpool looked "world class" according to Keane, a man notoriously difficult to impress in his role as a pundit.

Blues boss Lampard was surprised to hear such effusive praise from Keane but believes Gilmour was deserving of such comments. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "I had to put my cup of tea down to hear Roy say something nice! 

"I'm only joking – Roy was a fantastic midfield player and he probably won't give credit unless it's due. It certainly was due. 

"I heard the statements he made about Billy and he was spot on, and Billy should be happy with that. If he goes and follows the ideas of midfield play that someone like Roy Keane says, he won't go far wrong."

Keane was part of a legendary midfield at the Red Devils alongside Scholes. Lampard was keen to temper expectations but did concede Gilmour possesses similarites with the latter. 

"There aren't many days when you don't see him show up and try to do the right things," Lampard added. 

"Paul Scholes was obviously one of the greatest midfield players I've ever played against in the Premier League. 

"It was interesting to play against Scholesy: in the early parts of the career when he was a goal-getter, he'd play it around the corner and then would arrive in the box and have the ability and the feet and the nous to score the goals or make assists regularly, and then to see him change his career [was impressive].

"The cut-throat part of the pitch is probably at the top end, where it becomes much tighter and quicker. 

"In midfield, it can be easier because you have more time in those deeper areas. But if you're a player that's not top quality like Scholesy, more time can sometimes be a problem for you. 

"He would always pick the right pass, he had incredible range, and if you did try to jump from midfield to get close to him, he'd just play it round the corner because he'd know you were coming.

"Billy has shown early signs of that sort of ability. I'm not comparing him to Scholesy – no way – but in terms of those basics, Billy certainly has them and that's a great platform to build hopefully a fantastic career."

Manchester United great Paul Scholes revealed Serie A giants Inter were interested in him during his time at Old Trafford.

Scholes spent his entire career with United and won 11 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

Despite being one of the world's best midfielders, the former England international said he only heard about interest in his services once – from Inter in 2000.

"I was never ever made aware of any team coming in for me," Scholes told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I did have one phone call off an agent, Bryan Robson's old agent, he rang me while we were away at Euro 2000 to ask me if I would be interested in going to Inter Milan but that's the only phone call I ever had. I never heard anything after that and the manager never said anything to me.

"I was playing at my boyhood club, I was a Manchester lad, we were winning trophies all the time.

"If the manager said to me that he didn't want me I would definitely have gone if there was a big club abroad who wanted me but there was never any need to ever think about Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan because I was at the biggest club in the world anyway.

"We didn't win as many Champions Leagues as we should have but we were every inch as good as those teams, if not better."

Paul Scholes believes Manchester United are still behind despite the addition of the "brilliant" Bruno Fernandes.

After arriving from Sporting CP in January, Fernandes had scored twice and provided three assists in five Premier League games before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A United great, Scholes said there was no doubting the Portugal international had added the quality his former club had been lacking.

"The one thing with Bruno is he doesn't look like a central midfielder to me, he's an out and out number 10," the former England international told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He's great on the ball, always on the half turn and he's the link that United really needed.

"They lacked that quality in midfield and since he came in he's had that. He can feed the ball in to players, he's got a great shot on him and he looks like a real leader as well. United had lacked that.

"Whether he can play in midfield in a two, that's yet to be seen. He's more like an Eric Cantona, a Teddy Sheringham – he can beat players as well. He is somebody who brings what was sadly missing at Old Trafford and he seems to have livened up everyone. The team is playing well and they look like scoring goals."

When the season was suspended, United were fifth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Scholes feels Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are still trailing the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, who held a 25-point lead at the top.

"They are still behind, but they have bought a brilliant player in who seems to have knitted it all together," he said. "They did have a really good group of players but missed that one person who can make a difference – like a David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne who can glue the team together with their attacking movements.

"I still think they are a bit off the pace, they've looked good lately since Fernandes came in but Liverpool and Manchester City are streets ahead.

"There are three or four signings that can help but for the first time in a long time you feel like they could close the gap to the top."

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