Tuesday 23 January 2018

Giggs needs to swallow his pride and finally quit United

Club legend must accept that his dream of landing the top job is gone

Ryan Giggs faces a crucial decision on his future in management. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Ryan Giggs faces a crucial decision on his future in management. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Jason Burt

Ryan Giggs would be the manager of Manchester United right now had he not played until he was 40. At least so said Alex Ferguson.

"Say he had retired at 35, quite likely I would have made him my assistant and quite likely he could have moved straight into the job with the experience of being an assistant manager to me," Ferguson said.

When told what his old manager had said about him, Giggs was incredulous. "He said that?" he eventually uttered.

Maybe Ferguson was being whimsical or fondly charitable. Or more likely, he meant it. Either way, Giggs is not the United manager and with the impending appointment of Jose Mourinho, the dynamic of the club has changed for the 42-year-old, possibly forever.


It means it is time for Giggs to cut his ties and look elsewhere. The fact is he has not got the job he wanted, right now, and his retention would appear to be for show; a sop almost.

Having worked under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, it does not really make sense for him to stick around and work under a third manager in Mourinho, especially if the role offered is a diluted one, whatever the arguments may be for learning from such a successful coach.

For any employee, there comes a moment when you have been overlooked and need to strike out on your own. Giggs wanted the United manager's job but the club has gone for Hollywood over home-grown. They did not have the faith or the courage to back him.

Giggs could still return if he succeeds elsewhere but history is littered with former players who felt they could do a job at another club before going back. In truth, it very rarely happens.

It is also rare for a club to promote from within. The days of the Anfield bootroom are long gone. So will something even greater than that institution now leave United if, as appears likely, Giggs make the break after 28 years and reject the offer to stay?

The holder of the club's appearance record (963 matches), and their most successful player, had grown frustrated by what had happened in the past three years.

It does not take much digging to discover that Giggs was not particularly enamoured with Van Gaal's management or style of football. At times, he has looked a picture of frustration on the bench while it was instructive to see him so animated on the touchline during the FA Cup final in what was already being touted as Van Gaal's final game.

United were never going to sack Giggs. Instead he faces the reality of having to either resign or accept a diminished role under Mourinho, whose 'first' assistants will be his long-term associates Rui Faria and Silvino Louro.

It is said that Mourinho wants to keep Giggs but the truth is he is probably not that fussed whether the Welshman walks.

He does not need someone to tell him about United nor to act as a link to the dressing-room and the stands, although he will certainly not oppose a former player sitting on the bench. At Real Madrid, he encouraged Zinedine Zidane to get more involved. He is now their head coach.

Maybe Giggs will reflect on that and on how Zidane spent seven years in the background, accepting various roles, before he got the top job.


Maybe also he will reflect on how his friend Gary Neville crashed at Valencia in his first job in management and maybe he will decide he is better the Red Devil he knows. But Mourinho's appointment means United are moving more radically in a different direction than they did under Moyes or Van Gaal.

The past should not be allowed to dictate the future. Despite Mourinho's stellar achievements, that is a dangerous thought for United. In Giggs' case, it is also a sad one. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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