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Giggs finds spark of old to rekindle Red Devils' passion


Ryan Giggs celebrates victory over Olympiacos. Picture credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Ryan Giggs celebrates victory over Olympiacos. Picture credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Ryan Giggs celebrates victory over Olympiacos. Picture credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

THE gossip all week painted a picture of a very unhappy Ryan Giggs, frustrated to the point of distraction with David Moyes' dogged training ground emphasis on defence. It didn't look like that last night.

An old man, in football terms, dug deep into his bag of tricks and came up with the goods for Moyes. Manchester United are still alive in the Champions League even if the rest of the season is a write-off.

Watching Giggs do his very best to rekindle Manchester United's old flame was somehow sad.

With all due respect to him, he shouldn't even be playing. A club of Manchester United's size and stature should have two or three better than a 40-year-old.

Alex Ferguson's carefully selected group of young talent, chosen to take Manchester United into the future, are not good enough to bridge the gap between one gloriously successful era and the next.

So Moyes leaned on Giggs because he had nobody better and it worked. Unable to cover the ground normally required at this level, he still has all his experience and guile to call on and the intelligence needed to pick the right pass.

Two first-half long balls, beautifully flighted passes which flew straight and true, first to Robin van Persie and then to Wayne Rooney, created opportunities and for once, Moyes' big guns were firing.

With Giggs' arrow dropping over his shoulder, van Persie took a wallop in the back from Jose Holebas and then a wallop at the ball from the spot – goal number one.

Next Giggs pinged one down the left onto Rooney's toe. Square ball and goal number two just before the half-time break.

The third, a fantastic 28-yard free-kick, curled to the right of goalkeeper Roberto. No wonder Moyes danced a faintly demented jig in front of his dugout.

Giggs's contribution was exactly what United have been missing all season; a creative spark in midfield to kick Rooney and van Persie into action.

The Dutchman was clinical and deadly. Given a premium service, he responded and in years to come, his hat-trick could be the event credited with saving Moyes.

The big question for Manchester United fans after this is whether such a heartening win and performance can be carried forward into the rest of the Premier League season and perhaps even the Champions League.

It remains Moyes' lifeline and his only help of gathering credibility before the end of the season when the Glazer family and almost certainly Ferguson will sit down and decide his fate.

The sense that Moyes caught his first big break by drawing Olympiacos grew as the game ebbed towards the final whistle and the Greeks lost their discipline and their edge.

Had the opposition been provided by any of Europe's blue bloods, Moyes' creaking defence might not have survived.