A feature on the international management credentials of Ryan Giggs.
The position of Wales national team manager remains vacant, and the usual assortment of former players have put their names forward. Publicly declaring an interest can smack of desperation, but for passionate individuals like John Hartson and Craig Bellamy, succeeding Chris Coleman and inheriting a talented group of young players does represent an excellent opportunity. Coleman himself emphasised in his departure that the next manager should be Welsh, and while it is no longer any of his concern, history suggests that one of his fellow countrymen will be entrusted with bringing through players like Ben Woodburn, Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks on the international stage.
Ryan Giggs is one former player who has recently spoken publicly about his interest in the job, and while he has been regularly considered as a future Wales manager, his exit from Manchester United has shown him that the football world outside of Old Trafford is a very different animal to what he has been used to. Giggs has been interviewed for jobs, but reports are that he cuts an underwhelming figure in such situations, and if he is to pursue a career in management then he will need to understand that his stellar playing career does not guarantee employment in the next stage of his professional life.
Giggs also has a negative perception with the majority of Welsh fans due to his habit of continually missing friendly matches. His early retirement from international football, coupled with his later appearance for Team GB at the London Olympics, brought with it a degree of resentment in some corners, while his recent cameos at the ITV studios to cover England has questioned his attachment to and connection with Wales. However, there are lots of elements to consider when debating Giggs and his merit for the job, and there is a strong argument to suggest that he may will be the best candidate in a limited list of alternative options.
With 64 appearances for Wales, Giggs hasn’t always been absent on international duty, but his dedication to the cause has always been questioned. But there are a number of factors to consider. This was a very different era for Wales, and the investment and professionalism introduced by the late Gary Speed has certainly changed the entire international environment. Sir Alex Ferguson would not have enjoyed sending his star player at the time to a relatively amateur Wales setup, and there is no doubt that the former Manchester United boss played a key role in curtailing Giggs’ international playing career.
Compared with figures like Tony Pulis, Giggs is a relevant figure who would immediately have the respect of the squad that he inherits. He was an inspiration to Gareth Bale when the Real Madrid star was growing up, and as a Premier League icon, his name will still resonate with the likes of Woodburn. Although he has been spoilt at Manchester United, he has since discovered that the real football world is very different, and his approach to the job would be a lot different as a result. Giggs would be committed to making a success of the opportunity, and his status and contacts within the game suggest that it might just work.
In addition, Giggs doesn’t need the money, and his salary shouldn’t be an issue. Meanwhile, he remains a highly-marketable figure around the world, and he would immediately increase commercial interest in the Football Association of Wales just through his status in the game. With no World Cup to look forward to, Giggs will have the time he needs to grow into the job, and if he and the FAW can work on a charm offensive to win over the Welsh football public then it could be the perfect appointment.
Of course, Giggs has been no stranger to media scandal in recent years, and his private life has changed public perception of the former star. Giggs will have those that remain against his appointment, but from a purely footballing point of view, together with his marketing potential, he does tick a number of boxes for those that have to make a huge decision in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the lack of obvious alternatives only add weight to the argument that Giggs is the right man for the job, and it could finally offer him the international redemption that he has been waiting for all these years.