Paul Scholes says “the time is right” to take his first steps into management after being named boss of League Two club Oldham Athletic.
The former Manchester United and England midfielder, 44, has signed a one-and-a-half-year contract with the team he supports.
He was cleared by the English Football League to take the role, despite holding a 10% stake in Salford City.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t feel excited about the team,” said Scholes.
“It’s a squad that should be pushing for promotion – that might be out of reach for this season, but certainly next season.”
Scholes, who will be bringing in former Latics coach Mike Priest as his assistant, takes over with the club 14th in the table, nine points off the play-offs and 14 points above the relegation zone.
The United legend said in October 2017 he had been interviewed for the manager’s job at Boundary Park before Richie Wellens was appointed, and spoke of his desire to “get back into football in some capacity” after news of his talks with Oldham were reported in January.
“It’s no secret how much he has wanted this job in the past and how much he loves this club, so I’m very happy to bring him into our family at Oldham Athletic,” said owner Abdallah Lemsagam.
“Paul will have my backing 100% and hopefully we can work together to bring success back to this club.”
Where does Scholes’ new job leave Salford?
Salford, who are fifth in the National League, have confirmed that Scholes has resigned as a director of the club – but will retain his shareholding.
The Ammies could be promoted to League Two this season and EFL rules prevent a person holding roles with two clubs at the same time without prior consent – although a holding of 10% or less in a club is disregarded providing it is held “purely for investment purposes”.
“Although Paul was never operational in Salford City he will resign as a director of the football club, allowing him to focus completely on his new role at Oldham,” Salford said in a statement.
“From the start we have always said that each of the ‘Class of 92’ would offer different levels of commitment dependant on their individual roles.”
Salford have won three promotions under the ‘Class of 92’s’ ownership and now harbour hopes of climbing into the EFL for the first time in their history.
“I don’t really do anything at Salford anyway, I was more like a Salford fan,” said Scholes. “One day we might have to play against each other and they’ll be trying to beat us and I’ll be trying to beat them.”
What’s the situation at Oldham?
Academy manager Pete Wild has been at the helm since the Latics sacked Frankie Bunn on 27 December after a 6-0 defeat against Carlisle United.
Bunn was only appointed last summer following Oldham’s relegation from League One.
They have endured an indifferent season to date, with Saturday’s 3-0 win at Crawley Town ending a three-match losing sequence.
“I’ve watched the team closely – they’re a good team with some really good players,” said Scholes, adding that he had “a lot of passion for the town”.
“I think there’s a team that’s capable of doing really well, which is why I’ve come here.”
The ‘Golden Generation’ and ‘Class of 92’
Scholes was widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in world football and is the latest from England’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’ to move into management.
He was often played out of position in a wide role with the national side to accommodate Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, both of whom have taken their first steps into management with high-profile appointments prior to the start of this season.
Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard took over at Derby County and has guided the Rams to seventh place in the Championship, while Gerrard has taken Rangers to second position in the Scottish Premiership.
Former Tottenham and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell took over at League Two Macclesfield this season and Phil Neville is the current manager of the England Women’s national team.
Another ex-United and England star, Phil’s brother Gary Neville, had a brief but unsuccessful spell as Valencia boss, while former England and Chelsea captain John Terry is assistant manager at Aston Villa.
Scholes made 718 appearances for Manchester United, including 499 in the Premier League, and scored 155 goals in all competitions.
He initially announced his retirement at the end of the 2010-11 season and made a comeback at the start of 2012 before finally calling time on his career having won 11 Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, five Community Shields and two Champions Leagues.
He also played 66 times for England, retiring after Euro 2004 to focus on his club career.
After his playing career finished, Scholes was part of the five-strong Manchester United ‘Class of 92’ to buy a controlling stake in Salford City and was briefly joint caretaker-manager, with Phil Neville, in 2015.
That, along with a short spell on the United coaching staff when the now Wales manager Ryan Giggs took temporary charge at Old Trafford following David Moyes’ sacking in 2014, remains his only experience in the dugout.