With injuries biting deep into his squad, Sir Alex Ferguson made the dramatic move to ask his veteran midfielder to come out of retirement.
"It's fantastic that Paul has made this decision," said Ferguson.
"It's always sad to see great players end their careers, but especially so when they do it early.
"But he has kept himself in great shape and I always felt that he had another season in him.
"It's terrific to have him back."
Scholes brought his United career to an end after last season's Champions League final.
However, he quickly revealed he felt the decision may have been premature.
He has continued to be a regular face at United's Carrington training complex in his role as a coach with the club's reserve team.
However, he will now be asked to aid United's quest for honours for the remainder of the season.
"I've been pretty clear since I stopped playing that I miss it," said the 37-year-old.
"I'm delighted the manager feels I can still make a contribution to the team and I'm looking forward to playing my part in trying to bring more success to this great club."
It is believed Scholes was pressed into reconsidering by a number of senior colleagues, who felt the midfielder could still be a major influence on United's quest for honours at a time when so many central midfielders are absent.
"He came to see me and said he wanted to come back, he was missing it too much," Ferguson told ITV. "There were no negatives as far as I'm concerned.
"The players were fantastic about it, the fans I'm sure will be happy and I'm happy."
And the United fans at the Etihad Stadium were broadly in agreement, even if the reaction from a wider sphere was mixed.
However, Ferguson was in no doubt it was the correct decision to select him on Sunday.
"No doubt about that. That's why he's on the bench," said Ferguson before the game.
"Everyone knows he's one of the greatest players in Manchester United's history.
"He's a fantastic footballer and there's no loss to his real fitness which is important.
"He's sometimes missed three or four months with injuries, so it's more more or less the same kind of scenario."