Football

Time for United and Giggs to move on

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Giggs shows no sign of letting up. (©GettyImages)
Giggs shows no sign of letting up. (©GettyImages).

A man for all seasons? A man who, like a fine wine, seems to get even better with age - once we have waded through the endless list of laborious cliches that have been tossed Ryan Giggs' way over the years - in the cold light of day, we can get back to the facts.

A total of 24 trophies in a glittering career spanning 21 years at Old Trafford, the Manchester United legend has made a club-record 899 appearances, and scored 162 goals.

12 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions Leagues, one Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a Fifa Club World Cup - a collection of accolades for the one-club midfielder who also holds the record of being the only player to have scored in every season since the Premier League's inception back in 1992.

Giggs is showing no signs of letting up. With three goals in 22 appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson's side so far in 2011-12, it was perhaps inevitable that the Welshman would eventually put pen to paper on yet another contract extension, taking the 38-year-old's career into a 22nd season.

After former teammate and midfield partner in crime Paul Scholes was coaxed out of retirement in January - signing a short-term deal until the end of the current campaign - 'Sat Nav' has also shown in recent weeks there’s plenty of fight in the old dog yet. For that reason, it would be no surprise to see Scholes follow Giggs' lead by signing a one-year deal in the next few months.

You can understand Ferguson’s motive, sure. It’s clear for all to see what both players add to the Red Devils’ ranks. They are two perfect examples of what every young professional hoping to make it at Manchester United should aspire to.

"Ryan is a marvellous player," Ferguson enthused in his pre-match press conference prior to Saturday‘s Premier League clash with Liverpool. "I don't know how he does it. It is a miracle.

"His form this season has been the same as the last five or six. His fitness has been incredible and his appetite to play is just the same. We are all delighted.

"The youngsters couldn't have a better mentor. Ryan and Paul Scholes are different types of midfield players but they have proved by their dedication that you can play to that age."

The former Wales international made his United debut way back in March 1991, and Giggs modestly admits that he could never have anticipated the longevity of the impact he would make at Old Trafford.

"When I signed my first contract, I never thought I'd be able to play at United for 22 years," he said. "But I feel good and I know I can still contribute to keeping the team pushing for honours.

"Winning the club's 19th title was a great feeling but this club is all about what we do next and I'm really pleased I can be part of that."

Giggs’ confidence and self-belief is inspiring. But the reality is his impact is becoming less and less noticeable. His influence off the pitch may be invaluable, but on it, the veteran often finds himself on the periphery of first-team action.

For that reason, I can’t help but think that the decision to offer Giggs a new deal is a slightly negative, short-sighted one. In no way, shape or form can it be regarded as a step back for United, but it certainly doesn’t represent a step forward for one of the Premier League’s greatest sides, that let’s not forget has been credited with constantly reinventing themselves, and adapting to the changing nature of the game.

For too long now, Ferguson’s reluctance to dip into the transfer market and add a creative midfielder to his ranks is something that would leave alarm bells ringing if I was a Manchester United fan.

The Scot continues to rely on the old guard, and at a time where neighbours and local rivals Manchester City are evolving into a Premier League superpower in their own right, there is a risk of United falling behind.

Giggs may epitomise all of Ferguson’s Manchester United teams over the years, and whilst his desire and hunger for success cannot be questioned, sooner or later the club, the manager, players and fans will have to move on without him.

Topics:
Ryan Giggs
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
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