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Goodbye Great Giggs

By Mohamed Jaward Nyallay

As the football world is busy celebrating Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest triumph at International level, probably very few have noticed that something big has gone down in Ronaldo’s old club. Ryan Giggs is no longer at Manchester United. When Ryan Giggs announced his departure from Old Trafford, it was not just the end of his ties with the club; it was also the end of a gleaming era. Ryan Giggs is special. As a player and a person, he was an epitome of Manchester United. He has been there since 14, played for the club for 23 seasons since 1991 and scored in every single season of those 23. For a winger, he scored 168 goals in total, which is how prolific he was. On the pitch he became a statute in that United side for the most of his two decades; dazzling that M16 crowd, one game after another, winning trophies season after season. ‘Giggsy’ as he is fondly known, won 13 Premier League titles, 4 FA cups, 3 League Cups and 2 Champions League trophies. Put it simple, he is the most successful player in British football history. One of the most popular banners in the Old Trafford grounds is the one that reads- “Giggs has been tearing you apart since 92.” That class of 92 is considered as the best crop of players the club has ever produced. Talented core of British players; Ryan Giggs, Nicki Butt, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and others were part of it. One day, the club might decide to erect a statue of him in the grounds, or name a stand after him. When that time comes, everyone would say : “he surely deserves it.” HIS SNUBBING When he announced his decision to quit the club, it was not a surprise to many. We saw this coming. Last season, Giggs completed his coaching badges, clubs like Swansea and Notthingham Forest wanted him to but he stuck with Manchester United. All for but one reason; expecting to be the manager of the club one day. Probably the most compelling case anyone could make against Giggs getting the United job was experience. He had served as an apprentice to David Moyes for 11 months and under Louis van Gaal for 2 years including a short stint in between as a manger of the club himself. With all this, one would expect that he is ready enough for the job. You would understand United’s skepticism about his lack of experience. The last time they tried a coach with a lesser top level experience; who was David Moyes it failed spectacularly. But in this bracket, Zinedine Zidane is an example. The Real Madrid manager has defied the odds and pulled off one of the greatest achievement in world football; winning the Champions League. Now put Zidane in the bracket of Ryan Giggs, based on the years he has spent with Manchester United, he has more experience about United than probably Zidane has about Madrid. Giggs breathed Manchester United since he was a boy. You cannot say the same for Zidane. But take managerial experience aside, not to trivialize it, but Giggs could have made up for that with his in-depth knowledge about the Manchester United way, the passion, the style and all of it. He probably has a little sprinkle of Sir Alex Fergusson’s DNA on him as well; that sheer desire to win at all cost. The Scot, who gave Giggs his debut in 1991, became one of the first voices to support his move from Old Trafford. “It is time Ryan stood on his own feet, get out there and accept the challenge,” Fergusson was quoted in Mirror. That is just what the Welsh has done. He has not stated his next move, but he has clearly decided to move on. The man who Giggs has been snubbed for this time round is a charmer; Jose Mourinho. He is cocky, arrogant, sometimes boyish and other times crazy. But he is also a winner, whatever it takes, he wins. It was difficult for anyone not to pick him over Giggs, especially when rivals Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have all made huge statements by bringing in the biggest coaches in football to England. It is ironical; how the England national team is still searching for a coach. Upon his appointment he has decided to appoint Rui Faria, his long time right hand man as his assistant. Who can blame him for not choosing Giggs? You want a guy like Mourinho to win, you have to give him a freehand to pick at least his backroom staff, or else the bickering will start before the battering and that will be too early. Fergusson himself understands the decision. He said it is just right for anyone to bring his most trusted person to serve as his deputy. It is just too bad that Giggs is standing there at the wrong time in history. END OF AN ERA For Fergusson himself, this is a personal loss. Giggs was the last disciple of the Fergusson breed at the higher level of the club. His departure marks the true end of Fergusson’s influence in the dressing room. The man who has worked through the door at United does not entertain fans on the way to winning the title; he bulldozes his way through. He conjures controversies, release powerful sound bites and circle the wagon with his ‘Us against the world’ conspiracy theory. In a package, that is Mourinho for you. But again he wins and even though Manchester United hierarchy knew all this, but they still went ahead to choose him. Probably that is what this United team needs, a bit of fire, a bit of controversy, away from that gentility they’ve held dare for more than a century. But all this said, no matter how far Ryan Giggs goes, most people know he will still be nurturing that ambition to manage this United team one day. Five or ten years from now, he could be back to the club and then, no one would tell him he doesn’t deserve the job because of his lack of experience. There would be no waiting in line for anyone. And once again, he would see his dream come through at the Theatre of Dreams. © Politico 20/07/16