Manchester United’s bizarre, disappointing season ended today with a 1-1 draw at Southampton. Ryan Giggs coached his last match as interim manager, and it is a good bet that his substitute appearance in the last home match earlier this week was his final one as a United player. Giggs has had a tremedous career since his debut in 1991, holding the club record for appearances and winning two European Cups and numerous league titles and domestic cups. He scored in every season of his career prior to this one.
It is difficult to write about his career simply because it was so successful; had you made up a fictional character with all of Giggs’s accomplishments before he came along no one would have found it credible. He is one of the sport’s all-time greats, and it frustrates me that he didn’t give himself the opportunity to play one last match today.
Here are two clips that epitomize Giggs’s sublime talent and his value to United:
First, his amazing solo effort to win the 1999 FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal, in which he dribbles the ball from United’s half into Arsenal’s penalty area before ending the run with a first-rate finish. This goal epitomizes the banner celebrating Giggs that hangs at Old Trafford: “Ryan Giggs: Tearing You Apart Since 1991.”
Second, highlights from the 1999 Champions League final, United’s greatest triumph, in which Giggs assisted on Teddy Sheringham’s match-tying goal.
I woke up this morning to the news that Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to retire from his position as Manchester United’s manager. I have been a United fan since 1991, so I have never known the club without Ferguson, and it will be odd not to have him in charge. His amazing, unequalable record of success is well-known, and I am not going to repeat it here.
But I will say that I don’t think this day is a day of tragedy for the club like some are making it out to be. Ferguson had to retire sometime, and it is better for him to do so a year too soon than a year too late. Also, the young players that United currently have in the squad (who now already have the experience of winning the league), combined with veterans such as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney (whose tensions with Ferguson can now be a thing of the past, which will be a good thing for Rooney and the club because now he can stay at the club), and (still!) Ryan Giggs, plus the veterans in defense, ensure that United have the potential to continue their unparalleled success.
Current rumors have Everton’s David Moyes becoming the new manager, and I would be happy with this decision because he is a good coach who does not hog the spotlight and would put the club first. The other major candidate, Jose Mourinho, is an excellent coach, but also brings a circus atmosphere with him and might be too much of a distraction. I would also be happy with a lower profile hire, such as an assistant coach who knows the club well, or Giggs as player-coach, or someone who has connections to the club and coaching experience elsewhere like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.