A blog on the influence that new Wales manager Ryan Giggs can have on Gareth Bale.
The appointment of Ryan Giggs as the new manager of the Wales national team has divided opinion, but the former Manchester United star is now in position, and can expect to be for the next four years. Giggs was unveiled to the media in Cardiff a fortnight ago, and while he cut a charming figure as he explained his blueprint of answering his critics with results, there are lots of different elements to consider when assessing how likely Giggs is to succeed in his first permanent managerial post.
Unprecedented numbers were in attendance for his first press conference as his appointment was confirmed, and that offers the first indication of a switch in attention when it comes to the national team. Wales has been synonymous with Gareth Bale in recent years. Bale is the talisman of the team on the field, and his marketable profile means that he inevitably headlines any promotion by the Football Association of Wales.
However, Bale is a private and modest character, and unlike his Real Madrid team mate Cristiano Ronaldo, is certainly not one to seek the limelight. When it comes to Wales, Bale is the centre of attention for the press and Welsh football public, and even when he isn’t available, he remains the main topic of conversation. It is a status in the team that he accepts, but with Giggs already showing himself to be a magnet for the cameras, the attention that the new manager will inevitably attract over the coming months could work in Bale’s favour.
Because now, the press and media have a new headline figure to focus on, and Bale will be more than happy to take a back seat when it comes to media commitments. Injuries and form have proved difficult for Bale over the course of the last year, and the press attention that he has attracted has not been too positive.
— UEFA Nations League (@UEFAEURO) January 24, 2018
Rumours over his club future surface with every transfer window, and joining up with the national team can offer a welcome relief form the pressures of playing in the Spanish capital. Bale will always attract attention, but Giggs is no stranger to being a highly sought after commodity for the media, and as well as diverting attention away from his star man he also has the experience to offer advice on dealing with the intrusion.
In addition, Giggs also knows what it’s like to suffer recurring injuries as a player that depended on his pace, and having reinvented his game in the latter stages of his career, Bale can learn a lot from his new national team boss. Giggs had the technical talent to switch to the middle of midfield, and while Bale may not possess the same ability to make such a drastic transition, he has shown that he can lead from the front in a central attacking role.
There are similarities between Giggs and Bale, and it is easy to understand why the latter idolised him as a kid. Now set to work together for the next two qualifying campaigns, there is every reason to believe that Giggs has a lot to offer Bale at this stage of his career. Meanwhile, the arguments of Giggs’ credentials for the job continue to rage on social media, and the strength of opinion suggests that he will never truly win over everyone, regardless of what success he achieves.
But while the weaker arguments focus on his lack of friendly appearances, there are much stronger concerns raised over his lack of managerial experience and his controversial private life that has been played out in the newspapers over the best part of the last decade. Ultimately, Giggs will be judged on results, but he will be desperate to hit the ground running when he takes his team to the China Cup in March as he looks to turn public opinion in his favour.
Ahead of his opening games as Wales manager, the focus will very much be on Giggs, and Bale will welcome the diverted attention. There is no doubt that Bale’s presence was a major factor in Wales’ invite to the tournament, and the subsequent appointment of Giggs is a bonus for the organisers.
The timing of the tournament will be of concern for Giggs and the availability of his star names, and it will be interesting to monitor is reaction to any withdrawals that follow given his own international career history. Now very much on the other side of the fence, Giggs must now charm the club managers of his players just like he did with the press and media a fortnight ago, and there will be an intriguing few months ahead as Welsh football enters a new dawn.