A blog on why Manchester United dismissed Giggs Wales link.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wasted little time last week in publicly aborting any attempt by the Football Association of Wales to approach Ryan Giggs into taking over from John Toshack as the National Team boss. From the first rumour of Toshack’s departure, Giggs became the highest-profile name in the mix to revive the fading fortunes of Wales but, with the Premier League’s most decorated player approaching his 37th birthday, the stance by Ferguson was indeed an unfamiliar one.
During his term in office at Old Trafford, Ferguson has had little hesitation in moving on ageing Stretford End heroes before their time was up, a relevant example being the departure of Mark Hughes to Chelsea in 1995 when many believed he still had a big part to play in United’s future successes. The proud Welshman was 32 back then and eventually took charge of the national team at the age of 36, leading the country in one of its better periods of relative success.
The impact of Hughes on Wales at that time and the similarities of it to Giggs current situation will not have been missed by the FAW’s hierarchy. The only difference is that Hughes, like many before and after him, had already been discarded by Ferguson, but the wily-Scot has chosen to keep hold of Giggs and has now quickly warned-off any approach for him despite the winger reaching the twilight of his glittering playing career.
From a playing perspective, Giggs remains a part of Ferguson’s squad but he is no longer the catalyst that generated so much success in United’s early Premier League years. His presence remains the same however, and it could just be that influence that has sparked Ferguson into making such a stand to keep the two-times Champions League winner at the club.
When Sir Alex announced and then retracted his retirement several seasons ago, widespread speculation followed that it was the lack of a suitable successor to his throne that reverted his intentions. Since then, Ferguson has achieved domestic and European success but has constantly earmarked potential candidates to eventually take over from him in one of the biggest jobs in football.
The impact of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and his respect for Ferguson made the self-proclaimed special one a long-standing option for Old Trafford, but while his success has no doubt impressed, his move from club to club and country to country with Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid and his ambition for future success at club and International level elsewhere would not tie-in with the long-term Old Trafford dynasty-style of management established by Ferguson.
Giggs on the other hand is a two-team man. His entire club career has been spent at Old Trafford and he has remained a proud Welshman despite his critics over International friendly attendances over the years. Not bad for a player, who, as a schoolboy, represented Manchester City and England!
A fellow-Celt, Giggs has grown up under the guidance of Sir Alex and has become a legend at Old Trafford even with his playing career yet to come to an end. As Ferguson sits back and watches the evolution of other clubs across Europe, he like every other coach, player and football fan will not have missed the recent upsurge in success at one of the world’s most famous clubs and it is one that Ferguson may wish to emulate as his final hurrah at Manchester United.
Pep Guardiola, 39, was a hero at Barcelona during a distinguished domestic and International playing career. Once a young ball-boy at the Nou Camp, Guardiola progressed through the ranks at the club to spend the best ten years of his career as an instrumental part of Barcelona’s success. After calling time on his playing career after a brief spell abroad, Guardiola returned to his Barcelona home to manage the clubs ‘B’ team.
With the club in the shadow of rivals Real Madrid in 2008, Guardiola was the surprise choice to replace Frank Rijkaard as manager of the Spanish giants despite his entire managerial career at that time consisting of just one season with the reserves. What Guardiola had however was passion for the club, he knew what it meant to represent Barcelona, he had been brought up to believe in all that the club stood for, he brought to the club what success bought elsewhere could not.
It has since proved an inspired decision by then-President Joan Laporta with Barcelona regarded as the best club side in the World and supplying the majority of players to Spain’s World Cup winning squad. A convincing Champions League Final win over Manchester United in 2009 highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of both teams and the manner of the defeat hurt Ferguson more than any other.
Now Ferguson has his own Guardiola in the making. Both the Spaniard and Giggs have progressed through the ranks of their respective clubs and have became legends in front of their own fans in the process. Barcelona gambled on Guardiola to make his mark in management on the biggest stage and hit the jackpot, does Ferguson’s desire to keep Giggs at Old Trafford mean he is also planning to spin the wheel?
This article was also published on the WalesOnline Magazine Sports Blog here – http://blogs.walesonline.co.uk/sport/2010/09/is-sir-alex-lining-up-giggs-fo.html