| 4.7°C Dublin

Ryan can prove he's the prince of wales

Giggs admits pressure is on ahead of his first big test


New Wales manager Ryan Giggs at yesterday’s press conference

New Wales manager Ryan Giggs at yesterday’s press conference

New Wales manager Ryan Giggs at yesterday’s press conference

it's an odd position for Ryan Giggs to be in. On the eve of his first home game, and first competitive match, in charge of Wales, there's a common thread running through the pre-match talk.

There's the issue of a particular player who has not turned up for international duty. And the matter of an entire squad opting not to play in a game.

The first one is Harry Arter, not involved for Ireland in Cardiff tonight - Cardiff is of course where he plays his club football - due to a fall-out with the assistant manager of the national team.

The second one is the whole Danish team, unwilling to play in last night's friendly away to Slovakia and also unlikely to show up for Sunday's qualifier at home to the Welsh over a dispute with the men in power.

There was a time when Wales matches were built around Giggs' habit of being a no-show for away games with the national team, especially away friendlies.

New era

But this is 2018. A new era. Giggs is no longer a Manchester United player struggling to sneak away from Alex Ferguson's steely gaze at Carrington so he could sneak off and play international football. Giggs is the man in charge, facing the very difficult task of following in the footsteps of Chris Coleman, who led Wales to starry heights in 2016.

Giggs made all the right noises when he faced the media in Cardiff yesterday. Pride and passion were parts of his speech.

The plus for Giggs facing into this campaign is that he has a good squad, a panel with probably better individual players than Ireland.

He has a lot going for him ahead of this match: a relatively injury-free squad, the presence of his talisman (Gareth Bale), an expectant but supportive home crowd, and the many, many issues in the Irish camp.

But there's also expectation. Giggs has bigger ambitions than being manager of Wales. He spoke of the next World Cup finals, but can we really see a player steeped in Premier League lore still managing the Welsh in 2020?

"Every player wants to be part of a World Cup," Giggs said when asked about the job he has ahead of him, replacing Coleman.

"I'm following a fantastic manager who got Wales to a major championship. He was my first room-mate at U21 level and what he did was fantastic.

"Maybe there's a bit of pressure but now we've done it we want more and we know we can do it. It works both ways. I put pressure on myself all the time, it doesn't matter if it's a friendly or a competitive game."

What happens in this campaign with Ireland and Wales will not escape the attention of Premier League chairmen and owners. Roy Keane has been in the job with Ireland for five years, his longest spell of employment since he left Manchester United.


He has had another job in that time (Aston Villa assistant) but top-flight clubs have not been camping outside his house to lure Keane in as manager.

Giggs will look at Keane's record with the FAI and wonder: did an ok job in getting to the Euros, but is that enough to take him, or me, further?

Giggs and Keane have both done a lot of TV work, but can that ever replace the buzz of management?

Giggs was asked about the fact that contemporaries of his, particularly Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, have both started off their managerial careers, at relatively high-profile clubs, and done reasonably well to date.

"It's like players, if you're good enough it doesn't matter what your age is. I've followed them both and they've done well, it's pleasing to see," Giggs said.

"Can you go and do it as a manager? And you just have to wait and see but they've made good starts and prepared themselves as best they can, just as I did. TV work is great too but I miss that football stuff being out on the pitch and having the buzz of games."

There will be a buzz around Cardiff in the lead-up to tonight's game, the clash of one manager who has just turned 66 (O'Neill) and another (Giggs) who is starting out.

Giggs can only hope that his honeymoon lasts.