6 May 2014

Old Trafford Set To Salute Legend Giggs

It's set to be an emotional evening at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening against Hull City, as the Old Trafford crowd prepare to say their farewells and salute a club legend Ryan Giggs, who will step out at the Theatre of Dreams for the final time as interim manager in front of the home crowd, it's possible it will be the final time as a player too.

Media speculation suggests that Giggs will name himself in the starting eleven, and who would begrudge him that decision if it's correct? This is a man who has represented the team he grew up supporting as a child, as both a player and a manager, the list of honours are endless, he's a living legend.

13 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 9 Community Shields, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup, add to that the individual awards that Giggs has won and it starts to tell the story of the most decorated player in English football history.

I'm lucky to have followed Giggs' career from the early nineties when he first broke into the Manchester United team as a raw 17 year old. His pace and ability to run with the ball made him an instant favourite with supporters, who made early comparisons to the late George Best, it was easy to see why, so much talent and potential at such an early age.

Giggs has left us so many memories that it's hard sometimes to put them into some sort of order, but if we are talking about the early days, you instantly think back to White Hart Lane and a Premier League game against Tottenham in 1992, when Giggs announced himself to the world, it's the goal that got people talking about him.

The goal he scored that day was sensational, he used 3 touches and lightening pace to rip apart Spurs. He took the ball past Dean Austin after his slip, nutmegged Jason Cundy and rounded Ian Walker, it was simply breathtaking from a player who had only just turned 18 years of age. He would repeat this in 1994 against QPR with a goal which was remarkably similar. 

So many great moment, I'm unsure that my computers hard drive would allow me to mention them all, but if you had to sum up one moment when you mention Ryan Giggs, no, not Imogen Thomas, I mean Villa Park in 1999, a vital moment that is an important part of Manchester United's historic treble winning season, without it, who knows how that season could have ended up? 

We all know it, Patrick Vieira misplaces a pass in extra time to Giggs, United are down to 10 men following the dismissal of Roy Keane. Giggs receives the ball and runs at an Arsenal defence who's legs have gone, they retreat, Giggs manages to get past Lee Dixon and Martin Keown before unleashing a shot from a tight angle into the roof of the net past David Seamen. 

The madness after that finish is probably one of the most iconic goal celebrations in football as Giggs removed his shirt and swung it around his head to reveal that hairy chest.

That goal continued the clubs momentum and belief that they could achieve the treble, and in Barcelona's famous Camp Nou on Wednesday, 26th May 1999, that dream was realised as Manchester United defied all the odds to score 2 goals in injury time to beat Bayern Munich and lift the Champions League trophy. They are still the only English team to complete this feat to date.

Ryan Giggs has managed to adapt to the demands of the game season after season. His ability to reinvent himself as a player has been incredible, starting out as a flying winger, to playing that central midfield role where he uses his brain and range of passing to hurt teams.

He is the only player to score in every season since the Premier League started back in 1992, it would be a fitting tribute if the 40 year could add to that incredible record against Hull City at Old Trafford.

Giggs' future with Manchester United remains unclear, I personally think that we need to keep a person at the club with his experience and knowledge. If the new manager does not find a place for him in his set up, Giggs will be another clubs gain. 

So many of the powerhouse teams in European football surround themselves with ex players, players who understand the clubs philosophy and tradition, hopefully the hierarchy realise this and offer Ryan Giggs a role at the club assisting the new manager.

Until that decision has been made, lets just enjoy and celebrate the career of an unbelievable talent, we will never see the likes of Ryan Giggs again, 13 Premier League Titles, that will be difficult for any other player to come close too. It's the reason I believe the club should look at honouring him, when he does finally hang up his boots, by retiring that famous 11 shirt.

Ryan Giggs, tearing you apart since 1991.