Ryan Giggs is a Manchester United legend.
Plain and simple.
Yet the 40-year-old who has played in United’s first team since the age of 17 now has an entirely difference challenge facing him at Old Trafford: now he’s in charge of the locker room.
Following the firing of David Moyes as United manager on Tuesday, the Red Devils announced Giggs will take charge on an interim basis for the rest of the 2013-14 campaign as the player/coach steps up to lead his side in their time of need.
Giggs was appointed as one of Moyes’ coaches when the Scotsman took over just nine months and 22 days ago from Sir Alex Ferguson, and the former Welsh international now has the opportunity to prove he can manage one of, if not the, biggest clubs in the world.
Is Giggs just a stop gap or a genuine contender to become the new main man at Old Trafford?
After the announcement that he will take over for the remaining four games of the 2013-14 campaign — home games against Norwich City, Sunderland and Hull City before traveling to Southampton on the final day of the season — bookmakers slashed the odds on Giggs becoming the new manager of United. Other contenders include Louis van Gaal, Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone as the Glazer family now have a huge decision to make on Moyes’ successor.
Giggs is now the 7-1 second favorite, behind current Dutch national team boss van Gaal, as the bookies clearly see Giggs’ relatively quick appointment in the hotseat on a caretaker basis as a sign of how highly he’s respected within the clubs hierarchy.
As for fans, they seemed mixed on his appointment as many interviewed outside Old Trafford on Tuesday suggested Giggs “didn’t have enough managerial experience.” That is true, but does anyone other than Sir Alex Ferguson know the club better than Giggs?
I think not.
He’s the most decorated player in the clubs history after winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two Champions League winner’s medals for United. In his 24 seasons as a professional player Giggs has racked up 962 appearances for United, scoring 168 goals, plus he’s the epitome of a one-club man and everything that oozes success from United’s prestigious pores.
Among many other records he has scored in all 21 PL seasons, has made 21 appearances this season and holds the PL record for most games played (631). That being said, surely people needn’t worry about a lack of experience from Giggs? He has proved himself to be a diligent and studious coach behind the scenes, as footage of him hurriedly taking notes and traveling all around the world last summer prove he’s taking his coaching badges seriously. Giggs is currently completing his UEFA Pro license and has already obtained his UEFA A and B licenses as he is the only current PL player to have the Pro license under his belt.
It is safe to say Giggs is preparing himself for life after playing soccer and with his playing contract running out at Old Trafford this summer, will Giggsy be signing a new deal as United’s new manager?
His inexperience will likely mean the Glazer family will look to van Gaal or other coaches with a track record of winning trophies at the elite level of soccer in Europe. Yet if Giggs can instantly turn his vast wealth of elite experience as a player into being a top coach, which he has already been working on this season and for most of the 2012-13 campaign, then why can’t he succeed?
Importantly, he will have the full support and respect of the playing staff and the fans. That is something that Moyes never had.