In part two of our interview, Paul Scholes talks about his form this season and how he's developed as a player in 12 trophy-laden years in the United first team.
Are you pleased with your own form this season?
[Shrugs] …It's been all right. I know I can play better. I'd like to be scoring a few more goals and making a few more as well. Hopefully in the important last few months of the season I can contribute a bit more.
You never seem to build up your own performances...
Well, I just think I've played better in the past. I think I'm capable of getting to that level again and I believe I can still do better than I have done this season.
As you've got older, has your training regime changed?
Football has moved on, but I don't think training has changed much. The diet side of it is still pretty much the same. The way we train, with Valter di Salvo (fitness coach), has changed a little bit. There are more days in the gym. I still love going outside and playing football, that's what I love doing. My approach to training has always been the same. You have to put every effort into it to get the benefit in games. I like to think I'm still doing that.
Do you still enjoy training?
Oh yeah, I love training every day. Training outside that is, I don't really enjoy the gym side of it. But that’s something that you have to do and you just get on with it. But, yeah, I love going out and playing football.
Do you work a lot on the individual elements of your game, like shooting?
I try to work on everything, shooting especially. I probably work on that more than anything else. I don't really try different ways of striking the ball or things like that, I just practice shooting the way I've always done. But I try to improve all aspects of my game. If you don't do that then you don't get anything out of training.
Your volley against Villa, voted Goal of the Month for December, was similar to the one at Bradford in 2000. Does the team practice goals like that in training?
It's not something we've worked on too much, you just know that corners are very often cleared to the edge of the box. It's a position I enjoy taking up because you're always hoping the ball will come out to you so you get a shot on goal. Wayne is the same as well, he loves shooting, so he's normally there queuing up to have a go, too. Both of us are hoping the ball comes to one of us, if we've not already scored from a header because Rio and Vidic are so dangerous at set-pieces.
With such a ferocious shot, why don't you take more free kicks?
I'm not a great free-kick taker. In fact, I'm rubbish! I prefer a bit of movement on the ball or striking it on the volley. We've got some good free-kick takers, like Ronaldo and Ryan [Giggs], who are a lot better than I am. I don't think there are many better strikers of the ball from dead-ball situations than those two, so I'm best letting them get on with it.
Players generally have to adapt their game as they get older, how has your game changed?
I haven't knowingly changed my game. I probably don't get forward as much as I used to. When you go forward it's a long way back, so I probably try and stay where I am a bit more! Maybe I've calmed down a bit in going forward, but I still try to keep all the elements of my game, passing the ball and trying to make and score goals. That's always what I've tried to do.
If you could improve one aspect of your game, what would it be?
Defending. Shocking defending. My tackling isn't the best [smiles].
People often talk about that...
My tackling? I'm not really that bothered by what people say. When you think about it, my disciplinary record isn't really that bad for a central midfield player. I do make some bad tackles, but never on purpose.
Are referees understanding of that?
Referees are with me, well, most of the time. There's been the odd game where you make one tackle after five minutes and you get a booking. Then I really have to be careful. But, most of the time, I don't ever have a problem with referees.
This time last year you were out with an eye injury, giving you a taste of what life is like without football. Did you ever consider what you might do when your playing days end?
I'm probably going to think about what I do when my career finishes when it's actually over. There's so much to think about when you're playing, and I'm really enjoying playing football at the moment, so I just want to concentrate on that.
During your time out you were spotted at a few games - might you have a future role in scouting?
The manager just wanted me to keep involved in football because I couldn't do anything for three or four months. I couldn't play or train, which was frustrating. I was just told to rest. So he just asked me if I'd go and watch a few games for him. I spoke to the chief scout and arranged to go and watch a few games. I quite enjoyed it actually.
So, do you see your playing career continuing for some time yet?
I hope so. It's my aim to keep playing for as long as I can. As long as I feel OK and I'm enjoying playing, which I am doing, then I'll keep going.