Ryan Giggs has been receiving a hammering from his own fans recently, just as talk of him renewing his contract has come about. I read comments from Giggs in the MEN on Friday (which referred to Giggs as the winger who had eight Premiership titles to his name. Where have they been?) and whilst I want him to stay on, and sign an extension, I wonder how much of that desire springs from sentimentality.
Ferguson has today spoken out about Giggsy’s future, claiming it is certain the winger will still be with us next season, and could break Sir Bobby’s appearance record by the end of the season. “He will not play every game for us this season but he will be here next season, that is for certain. He could even catch Bobby before the end of May.”
Football fans are very fickle, and the moment Giggs plays a lazy flick which lands nowhere near a player in red, you’ll hear reds screaming for him to get off. “He’s a load of shit, that Giggsy” they’ll moan in the local. This season, yeh, I’d say that is a pretty fair assessment, Giggsy has been a load of shit, but I struggle, like a lot of reds, to say too much against the man.
My dad reckons that Giggs has lost his hunger for football, and I hate to say that I am slowly starting to agree with him. Towards the end of last season, Giggs really looked to be struggling, and when you’re 33 and playing twice a week, you can expect the haggard look. But after a summer off, and more recently, an international break, Giggs doesn’t look to be any more fresh.
Too many times we’re seeing Giggs give a way the ball in such a lethargic manner, not tracking back with the vigour he should, and giving up far too easily all over the field. Too many times, whether on his arse or stood with his arms flung out, Giggs is stopping and turning to the ref. “Don’t you know who I am? I’ve won the league nine times, now give me a free kick for being second to the ball.”
My frustration is added to by his lacklustre efforts as the captain. I loved seeing Giggs and Neville lifting the trophy together last season, and that will be such an iconic and moving photograph in ten, fifteen, twenty years time. However, Giggs is no captain, and like I said in my article, Rio Ripe For Demotion, it’s time the armband was given to someone else.
Giggs needs to have that fight and hunger put back in him, and maybe we could see that if he was dropped for a period of time. Whilst we can’t expect to see him playing the way he did ten years ago, for large chunks of last season he looked as good as ever. His strengths are not the same as they were, as there will be a lot of full backs who are able to cut out his runs these days, and who beat him for pace, but new strengths have developed with his experience. However, we’re not seeing those strengths at the moment, and it only seems logical that Ronaldo and Nani man our wings until Giggs sorts his head out.
Clearly, he wants to be a United player, and after taking a cut in wages to sign a two year deal last time, we have no reason to question his loyalty or feelings about playing in our shirt. However, he does seem to have a certain nonchalance in regards to the new contract. “We trust each other, which comes from 15 or 16 years in the first team. I don’t think I need to play well in specific games otherwise I won’t be offered a contract. Generally speaking, if I am doing well, everything else will take care of itself. You could easily get caught up in `I have only got a year left so I need to play well’ and put that added extra pressure on yourself. But the pressure playing for United in itself is enough you don’t want to put added pressure on.”
I have to disagree with him. He does need to be putting some pressure on himself, because clearly, his relaxed attitude is not producing the goods on the pitch. Whilst he is set to get a contract regardless of how he is playing at the moment, for the club, he needs to be putting on the pressure and needs to be playing well.
Any other 33 year old would maybe have to be worry about their future playing for the Champions if they were not playing well. Fortunately for Giggs, he isn’t just any other 33 year old, he is a 33 year old who has nine league titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, and one European Cup. He is close to featuring more heavily in our history books, with just a few appearances short of being the player to represent our club more than any other, and it is that which sets him apart.
Ryan Giggs is a Manchester United legend, and I don’t use that term lightly. He was my hero when I was a lad and whatever he does, however he plays, I’m going to love him. He’s had the kind of career modern professionals (and fans) can only dream about, and it’s going to take a really special player to ever rival him on ability, experience, loyalty and honours. Of course he deserves a contract extension, and of course he deserves our patience to come good again.
So next time you want to throttle Giggsy for giving the ball away, just remember all the great things he’s done for this club and how your life as a football fan has been improved by him. If you need a reminder, watch this…