How Manchester United have changed during Ryan Giggs' career
Published 02/07/2016 | 14:16
Ryan Giggs is leaving Manchester United after almost 30 years with the club.
Joining as a schoolboy, the Welshman went on to make his first-team debut in March 1991, one of two run-outs he got that term.
He hung up his boots in 2014 having made 963 appearances for the Red Devils, scored 168 goals and won 34 trophies, and subsequently spent the next two seasons in the dugout as assistant manager.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a comparative look at United as they were around the time Giggs made his bow and as he now departs.
When Giggs was handed his senior debut as a 17-year-old winger, Sir Alex Ferguson had been in charge at United for just over four years. The Scot's tenure up to that point had been a mixed bag with some definite successes, but nothing compared to the sort of thing he would go on to achieve with the club. Indeed, it had only been the previous season when Mark Robins scored the famous FA Cup goal viewed as that which saved Ferguson from the sack.
Striker Mark Hughes was United's main man around this time. Their top scorer in 1989-90 with 15 goals in all competitions, he would finish 1990-91 with 21 and as PFA Player of the Year, while United winger Lee Sharpe took the Young Player award. Giggs' debut season also saw Hughes' strike partner Brian McClair score 21 times, while Red Devils centre-back Steve Bruce made an incredible contribution of 19 goals.
Victory in the 1990 FA Cup final, in a replay against Crystal Palace, brought United their maiden trophy of the Ferguson era, and first for five years. After Giggs made his debut the following season, they would go on to claim the Cup Winners' Cup, although he was not involved in that triumph.
United came 13th in 1989-90, their lowest top-flight finish since they were relegated in 1974. A year later that had been improved upon considerably, but the Old Trafford outfit were still way out of the title reckoning in sixth place.
Managers these days are rarely given the kind of chance Ferguson was all those years ago to bounce back from a troubled period, and after a generally disappointing two-season stint as United boss, Louis van Gaal - under whom Giggs had been working as number two - was sacked in May. Jose Mourinho was named as his successor a few days later and it now appears Giggs will not be a part of the new regime.
Although the United line-ups of 2015-16 have born little resemblance to the great sides Ferguson oversaw in his 27-year tenure, or the group Giggs broke into in 1991 , there has been a lot of young talent shining at the club. Goalkeeper David de Gea and striker Anthony Martial, scorer of 17 goals in all competitions last term, are the stand-out players among that, while there is also the likes home-grown forward Marcus Rashford getting fans excited. Skipper Wayne Rooney, 30, has put in some decent performances in a new midfield role as well - and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to be one of a number of big names brought in this summer by Mourinho.
In May Van Gaal guided United to another FA Cup final triumph, once more against Crystal Palace, as the club claimed their first significant piece of silverware since Ferguson's retirement in 2013 - but it was not enough to save the Dutchman from the axe only two days later.
For all the success in between, United's most recent league position is similar to how it was when Giggs broke through. Van Gaal's men finished fifth last season, having never really looked like title contenders - something Mourinho is very much expected to transform them into again.