Smalling: United veteran 'a role model'

Manchester United's Chris Smalling. Photo: Lars Baron/ Bongarts/ Getty Images.

Simon Stone

MANCHESTER UNITED defender Chris Smalling has labelled birthday boy Ryan Giggs the role model all his teammates look up to.

Giggs celebrates his 40th birthday today with United manager David Moyes believing the Welshman is still improving.

Certainly his performance in Wednesday night's 5-0 Champions League demolition of Bayer Leverkusen suggests Giggs still has plenty to offer and, should he so wish, he is worthy of yet another contract extension at the end of the season.

Giggs did not score on Wednesday night. Nor, indeed, could he claim more than one direct assist given Wayne Rooney was responsible for the final pass for the first four United goals.

But his experience still shone through as he controlled the game at the pace he wished, always seeming to make the right pass.

"Ryan is a role model for us all," said Smalling. "He is a cool head in the middle.

"Despite his age, even in the 90th minute, he was still taking on three or four players. It is terrific to see such a legend playing amongst us.

"His pass for Nani's goal at the end just sums him up. He has that incredible vision. He is terrific and an example to everyone."

The biggest issue Moyes has with Giggs right now is when to pick him and when to give him the rest so obviously required.

It cannot be easy, especially with Michael Carrick on the sidelines and neither Marouane Fellaini nor Tom Cleverley able to match Giggs' influence in central midfield.

Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia undoubtedly wishes Moyes had elected to save Giggs' legs in readiness for Sunday's trip to Tottenham.

"We really punished them," said Smalling. "Bayern Munich were the only team to take points off them at their ground in the league this season, which speaks for itself.

"But we put them to the sword. Once we got two goals ahead, you could see their heads drop. They knew they were going to be well beaten."