By Adam Joseph
Twenty nine years. Some people reading this aren’t that old. That is the tenure of Ryan Giggs at Manchester United. Greater even than Sir Alex Ferguson’s twenty six years, the Welshman has played the most games of any Manchester United player with a whopping 963 games. As of this week though, his United career is over.
The former left midfielder announced this week he would seek a new adventure after two failed stints as part of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal’s disastrous regimes. It tainted his final years at the club, as he suffered from strained relations with the managers he worked under (or in Moyes’ case, played under as well).
There were rumours of sneaky behaviour behind the scenes, with Giggs angling for the manager’s job. This may have contributed to his departure, as the latter days of Van Gaal’s stay at Old Trafford became a wrestle for not only the Dutchman’s sacking, but whether Giggs would be the man to replace him.
Sections of fans had labelled him a snake, whilst others still saw the flying left winger who had dominated the wide midfield berth for essentially two decades. It was damaging his legacy in some areas and the time had come to find a new challenge.
Many hoped that he could follow the lead of Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane, but after three years of embarrassment the club could not take a risk on an unproven manager with literally no management experience. Guardiola and Zidane had stints with their club’s reserve squads in Liga Segunda, so they are really the exception to the rule not the rule itself.
Now Giggs has to ponder his next move, as the job he wanted was never going to be his. With Jose Mourinho’s arrival, it was continue to bide his time but it seems his pride could stand that no longer. On all levels though and his statement reiterated this, it was time for Giggs to venture out and prove himself elsewhere.
This is also better for the club he has so faithfully served since the age of fourteen. Look at the list of managers who’ve retired after playing under Sir Alex Ferguson: Paul Ince, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, Bryan Robson, Gary Neville, Roy Keane and more. Apart from Laurent Blanc (a European, perhaps the exception), none has truly succeeded in management. This is hard to ignore if you are Manchester United.
Playing success is no guarantee of success in management, and this is perhaps a lesson to be learned for those who wanted Giggs to be the next Red Devils manager.
Does an International role interest the Welshman? The England role is probably out of his reach and Chris Coleman’s flying as the Welsh boss so unless he’s branching out to something unexpected that can essentially be ruled out.
So now it is a club role that beckons more than likely. He has been linked in the recent past to roles at Derby County and Nottingham Forest, and perhaps that is the sort of level that will be a good starting point. Part of his statement seemed to indicate that would happen:
“However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.”
Giggs is a very smart man, and he will wait for the right opportunity. He served the club valiantly as a player, and hopefully the tutelage provided by Ferguson and Van Gaal (both of whom he thanked in his statement) will serve him well in both tactics and experience going forward.
Whether he returns remains to be seen, but it’s a new era for both the former playing legend and the club he represented so valiantly for twenty nine years.
Good luck, Ryan.
Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.
Follow him on twitter @AdamJosephSport