Giggs only lukewarm in backing Van Gaal for United
Old Trafford's favourite son considers extending playing days
If this was a football match, Ryan Giggs would be taking the ball to the corner flag and playing out time.
A week after a relaxed, impressive debut in which he had looked more naturally cut out for the task of managing Manchester United than David Moyes ever did, Giggs now knows that Old Trafford is not yet ready for its Pep Guardiola.
And Louis van Gaal's determination to bring as many as five Dutch backroom staff to United has placed a question mark over what role Giggs might be given under the Dutchman.
It's thought he might be asked to stay on as a symbolic link to the past.
However, given Van Gaal's autocratic manner, it would be arguable how much real influence Giggs would be given on the training pitches at Carrington.
Alex Ferguson's grand idea that Manchester United, like Bayern Munich, should be run by the men who used to play for the club appears over – at least for the time being – a 62-year-old is not a long-term appointment.
Giggs was asked about Van Gaal and replied without great enthusiasm that he had "a brilliant reputation and is a successful manager in different countries who has taken Holland to the World Cup".
It sounded like he was reading out a Wikipedia entry.
Nevertheless, Giggs still has some decisions to influence – not least his own playing future and those of Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand.
On the second point, Giggs was adamant – he wanted both Evra and Ferdinand to stay at Old Trafford – but he was unsure whether the 45 minutes he played in the 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich on April 1 would be his last.
"I still think they have got a lot to offer. They have been great players and remain assets to a club like Manchester United," he said.
"Is me playing giving us the best chance? We'll see," added Giggs, who might copy Kenny Dalglish, who brought himself on as a substitute for a final time at Anfield against Derby in May 1990 with the championship already won.
Giggs has won 13 league titles and it is impossible to believe there will be any more as a player.
However, despite the fact he has never finished lower than this in his time at Old Trafford, he has been here too long to say that this is the most important summer in United's Premier League history.
"No, I think every summer is important. After the treble-winning season in 1999, you asked: 'Where do you go from here?'
"The answer is always to try to improve. It has not been a great season this year and it's important that we get the right players in."
Although it will disrupt their lucrative summer tour and may hinder their chances of making it back into the Champions League, Giggs is determined that United should try to qualify for the Europa League.
Should United overtake Tottenham, they will be competing in Europe's second-tier competition next season and will have to play their first game on July 31, when the club is midway through a coast-to-coast American tour.
Giggs said that in those circumstances, United would most likely send a team composed of players resting after the World Cup and members of the youth squad to contest the first leg of the qualifier – which will be away.
"It has given me a headache trying to plan that and sort it out," said Giggs. "I think Manchester United should be in Europe.
"Obviously everyone wants to be in the Champions League but the next step is the Europa League. I think that Manchester United every season should be in Europe."
Van Gaal remains the favoured choice to succeed David Moyes, despite Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola raising doubts over his future at the Allianz Arena yesterday by calling for the German champions to re-assert his position at the club.
Although Guardiola called for a decision on whether he was the "right coach for the club" in the wake of criticism from Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer, there is no sense within United that the Spaniard could become available and thus a managerial candidate for their vacancy. (© Independent News Service)
MANCHESTER UNITED V SUNDERLAND, LIVE, SETANTA SPORTS 1, 3.0