Giggs confirms United departure
Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in Manchester United's history, is to end his 29-year association with the club. The legend of Old Trafford vacates the premises clutching 23 major medals and three decades of wisdom.
Confirmation is expected in a club statement over the next 24 hours, United eager to make the parting with one of their greatest players and former assistant manager as mutually respectful as possible. Regardless of the tributes, the fact that Giggs leaves with so much more to offer as a coach makes his departure one of the most emotional, disheartening and unavoidably awkward of separations.
Questions will be asked about the prudence of allowing a man of such stature to move on, although it is obvious Giggs feels compelled to start afresh to fulfil his coaching ambitions. He knew that was not going to be possible following the third significant regime change since Alex Ferguson's retirement. If Jose Mourinho's apparent ambivalence to retaining the 42-year-old will be perceived as nudging Giggs out of the door, the biggest push is surely his own ambition.
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From the moment Mourinho's appointment was confirmed, Giggs was asking himself how and where he could fit into the Portuguese manager's inner circle. He was overlooked for Louis van Gaal two years ago and believed himself capable of assuming the manager's job when the Dutchman was sacked, but was instead destined for a reduced backroom role.
Mourinho's right-hand man, Rui Faria, was given his job as assistant manager so for Giggs only the ignominy of demotion remained. Cynics will argue that Mourinho knew what he was doing, ensuring the most ominous club shadow had no obvious place in his dugout. It felt like there was little for Giggs to do under Mourinho than assume ceremonial status.
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Giggs was always going to be too proud, too talented and too ambitious to accept that. Now is the time for him to strike out alone and prove his coaching capabilities elsewhere. United fans will be saddened, and there may even be a little anger that one of the finest of all club servants is heading out.
He cannily kept enough distance from David Moyes to avoid being tainted by association when the manager's regime crumbled - many suspected his despair at the Scot's methods facilitated his swift demise - while his presence alongside Van Gaal ensured it took longer than it might have for patience to snap with the Dutchman's overcautious football. His coaching career to date has offered a useful education in the challenges ahead given that, as a player, he only knew success.
Giggs joined United as a 14-year-old, making his debut in 1991, and became the most decorated British player of all time during the course of 963 appearances. His record of 13 league titles is unlikely to be beaten, and he also has two European Cups, four FA Cups and four League Cups.
Giggs has completed his Uefa pro-licence coaching qualification and is sure to be headhunted by several chairmen. Last season it was believed Swansea were keen to talk to him following the dismissal of Garry Monk, but Giggs was biding his time, waiting for the club offering him the best chance of success.