Having said that it is time for a new chapter in his life, Ryan Giggs winged in to India to play futsal. Given that Premier Futsal lasts all of 10 days, it is unlikely to be more than a paragraph in the storied life of one of the greatest footballers of our times.
The last time Giggs was this free Charles and Diana were a Royal couple, Lionel Messi was a toddler and forget being a verb, google wasn’t even a noun. Heck, Giggs was a fixture at Manchester United much before what has now been renamed Sir Alex Ferguson Stand came up having joined as a 14-year old in 1987.
Giggs, 42, played 24 years as a professional for Manchester United from 1990, scoring 168 goals, winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies and three League Cup winners’ medals and was a member of a team that won the Champions League twice and played two more finals. Giggs had a Premier League career spanning 7934 days, a record that, according to Mirror, is 1122 days more than the second-placed player; Paul Scholes. Individual awards included, he has 34 trophies, nine more than what United have won.
But now as Manchester United start preparations for the 2016-17 season, Giggs is playing indoors with Ronaldinho, Hernan Crespo, fellow ‘Fergie Fledgling’ Scholes and Deco. It had to be that way ever since the club glossed over his candidacy for the manager’s post and Jose Mourinho decided he would continue with long-time assistant Rui Faria. Giggs still had a year to run on his contract as assistant-coach but opted for a settlement that severed an association pre-dating the Premiership.
“It is not my fault”, explained Mourinho at his first media conference as United manager. “They decided the job was for me. Ryan decided he wanted to be a manager. I decided myself, 14, 15 or 16 years ago, that I wanted to be a manager. He could be what he wanted in the club. The club wanted to give him any job in the club, but he made a decision where you have to be brave,” Mourinho has been quoted as saying.
Encouragement from Mourinho, Fergie
Giggs’ decision to step out of his comfort zone has been praised by Mourinho and Ferguson. Mourinho compared Giggs’ departure to his own from Barcelona where he could have continued as assistant and Ferguson was quoted by BBC Sport as saying: “It is time Ryan stood on his own feet, got out there and accepted the challenge.”
Ferguson also said Giggs has what it takes to be successful as a manager. “…He has a bit of steel about him. It is such a highly intense results industry, you need people who go into it to have a bit of steel about them, a bit of character and personality.”
Giggs would be the 29th from Ferguson’s United to step into managership. Barring Laurent Blanc at PSG, no one’s won the top league though some of them such as Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane and Bryan Robson have had some success.
Bruce has been at Hull City since 2012 in an 18-year career as manager that started at Sheffield United and has taken him to Bournemouth (2001-07), Wigan and Sunderland as well. Keane was manager at Sunderland too and at Ipswich Town and was seen at Euro 2016 as Martin O’Neill’s deputy.
So, what now for Giggs? According to a post on the twitter handle @RyanGiggs_cc on Saturday, it seems Sunderland could be a common connection between three of Ferguson’s former players. With Sam Allardyce tipped to take over as England manager, Giggs is rumoured to be in contention for the Sunderland manager’s job, according to that post which quotes a report from express.co.uk.
Should that not happen now and if Giggs doesn’t manage to get a Championship club too, it is unlikely that a player as decorated as the Welshman would be free in the later stages of the season when clubs usually relook at their managerial appointments. But to not see him in the United dugout when Bournemouth host them in the first round of the Premiership will take some getting used to.
“But good luck and if one day he wants to come back to the club while I am here I would never stop him coming back. If one day the club (United) offers him the chance to become the manager I think it will be something natural and a consequence of success in his managerial career.” It is fair to let the Special One have the last word on this.