Old foe Scholes ready to stop Kewell turning a corner in England

Harry Kewell and Paul Scholes Source: Getty Images

Not long ago, Harry Kewell and Paul Scholes on the same pitch would have meant a footballing treat.

It remains to be seen if that is the case this weekend when they enjoy a Halloween meeting as coaches in England’s fourth tier, but that doesn’t mean that the League Two clash is any less crucial than their past encounters.

Scholes won trophy after trophy and medal after medal for Manchester United while Kewell did not too badly for himself as a star of an exciting Leeds United team before a big move to Liverpool in 2003.

Now, they are both back in northwest England as Salford City host Oldham Athletic.

Scholes is temporarily in charge of Salford, the club he part-owns along with other United alumni such as Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham, as well as Singapore tycoon and Valencia owner Peter Lim.

It is no surprise that with such backers, Salford have risen from the eighth tier in 2014 to the fourth.

Oldham have slipped from the first tier, back in 1994, but it is Kewell’s job, since August, to turn things around.

He was temporarily away from the dugout as he had to self-isolate for ten days after testing positive for the coronavirus. But now he is back.

Reversing the dismal fortunes of the former Premier League team has proven to be difficult but at least the Latics picked up three very valuable points in Wednesday’s (AEDT) 2-1 win over bottom team Southend United.

That was the third of the three games Kewell has missed and was just the second win this season so far.

Yet if Kewell can engineer another victory at Salford then Oldham, now four points clear of a relegation zone that would take them out of the English Football League and into the fifth tier, would be moving towards mid-table after 10 games of the season. It would be a sign of brighter times ahead.

Beating Southend, a team in crisis that are yet to win a game, is one thing, defeating Salford however, one of the favourites for promotion ahead of the season, is another.

The season has not quite gone as City would have wanted with Scholes temporarily in the hot seat after the club fired Graham Alexander as head coach earlier in October.

Despite some indifferent results, Salford are just five points off the automatic promotion spots with a game in hand.

The match has extra spice as the two former Premier League stars won’t just be reminiscing about their time in the top tier.

Scholes knows Oldham well, as he was in Kewell’s position just last year.

His spell in charge of the Latics lasted just 31 days, seven games and one win. He then resigned - reportedly by text message - after claiming interference from the owner Abdallah Lemsagam.

The former England international said he could not "operate as I intended and was led to believe prior to taking on the role".

Kewell said in mid-October that he has a good relationship with the Moroccan.

“I speak to Abdallah two or three times a day,” Kewell said.

“I give him information about the team, he just wants to know how the team is looking and things like that.

"We get on very well. He’s a passionate person and he’s hurting at the moment. He wants nothing more than to see his club up there challenging where he believes they should be. It’s my job to deliver that.”

Perhaps Kewell could take a leaf out of his opposite number’s book and talk to some of his old clubs to borrow some young talent.

Scholes, who was recently youth coach at Old Trafford, has been using his Manchester United contacts, bringing in Di’Shon Bernard on loan, a young defender who represented the Red Devils in the Europa League last season.

“He did well, something new; a new experience for him," Scholes said after the 20 year-old’s debut.

"He can play centre-half, he can play central midfield, he can play right-back at a push as well so good experience. I thought he did well, he did everything he needed to do and hopefully he pushes on.”

But Kewell also has a former Manchester United man on his team.

The winning goal in Southend came in the last minute from ex-United trainee Zak Dearnley.

The forward who has scored four goals in just three starts this season will be crucial once more.

Another winning goal and Kewell, and Oldham, will have some breathing space - even if Paul Scholes has something to say about it.