UEFA Champions League - Bayer Leverkusen v Manchester United

Ryan Giggs: A one club man?

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After Saturday’s loss to Sunderland, Ryan Giggs remains in the spotlight. In the wake of rumors about Louis van Gaal’s imminent appointment, the interim Manchester United manager was already questioned last week about his future with the club. Giggs turned the attention to the approaching match, but after Saturday, those questions came back ’round again.

What’s clear is this: Giggs will not be lacing up his boots for another club. When asked about the possibility, the Welshman answered, “For me it has to be playing for Manchester United or nothing. Money doesn’t come into it.”

It’s unknown, however, whether Giggs has a place in the squad under the (still unconfirmed) reign of van Gaal. Whoever does take charge of United will certainly bring in multiple new faces. Will the new manager take a chance on a contract extension for Giggs, who turns 41 next November? Or will the squad undergo a complete overhaul, with the old guard cast aside?

If the new manager chooses not to offer a contract extension, then next Tuesday’s game against Hull will be Giggs’ last at Old Trafford – as a player, anyway. After 24 seasons, 962 appearances, 13 Premier League titles and 34 trophies total, Giggs would be forgiven for wanting one last hurrah in front of the United fans.

But the manager is uncertain as to whether he’ll be part of the 18-man squad. ” I might have to put myself on the bench. The perfect scenario would be me coming on and scoring but football doesn’t work like that,” he said.

While the entirety of his senior career has been spent at Manchester United, Giggs is not naive enough to believe his managerial career will be spent in the same way. Calling himself a young man when it comes to management, he stated “You can never say yes or no,” when asked whether he might consider managing at a different club.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.