Ryan Giggs had his first taste of managerial experience at the end of the 2013-14 season, following the dismissal of David Moyes.
“I have got to say it is the proudest moment of my life,” he said after his role was announced. “I have supported Manchester United all my life, I have been a part of the club since I was 13. I am proud, I am happy, a little nervous and, just like playing, can’t wait for the game on Saturday.”
The Manchester United legend had spent that year as a player-coach under Moyes and took charge of the final four games of the season. United won two, lost one and drew one.
Giggs gave first team debuts to James Wilson, who scored twice in his first appearance, as well as fellow Welshman Tom Lawrence.
Lawrence was named in the Wales squad for the first time three weeks later and has since made 12 appearances for his country, scoring twice, after signing for Leicester that summer. He now plays for Derby County.
There was talk of Giggs getting the United job permanently but Louis van Gaal was chosen ahead of him. Giggs became his no.2 and saw United play a style of football that was wholly unfamiliar to him. No risks were taken, no freedom was given to the attackers and United instead prioritised keeping possession.
Giggs’ pals working in punditry, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, were incredibly critical of the Dutchman’s tactics, with Giggs instead tasked with studying the opposition in a bid to prepare the team for matchdays.
When it became clear that Van Gaal would leave at the end of the 2015-16 season, Giggs was again named as a potential replacement, with many United fans fancying him to be given the opportunity. You don’t have to look much further than the likes of Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane who both enjoyed great stints at Barcelona and Real Madrid after taking charge following their retirement from playing.
Yet United deemed they couldn’t afford to take another gamble of the appointment, as they had done when giving the job to trophyless Moyes, so went for the experience of Jose Mourinho instead.
Giggs was offered a position on the staff, but not as the assistant, so decided to leave the club he had been a part of since he was 14 and try to make it on his own.
“It is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14,” he said after his departure was confirmed. “It has not been a decision that I have made lightly. I’ll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future. However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.”
At the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Giggs looked as though he might get his first managerial post, after being interviewed for the Swansea job.
Giggs planned to take Nicky Butt with him, who has since been appointed as Head of Academy at United, but the club’s hierarchy were reportedly worried about his lack of experience.
Swansea went with Bob Bradley instead, who had a fairly disastrous time at the club, but Giggs insisted the reason he didn’t take charge was because their ambitions didn’t match his.
A few weeks ago, with the Swansea job again up for grabs, Giggs ruled himself out of the running, only to be announced as the Wales manager this week. Soccer had Craig Bellamy, Osian Roberts and Tony Pulis as credible candidates and many Welsh fans would have preferred one of them to get the job, with the hashtag #anyonebutgiggs doing the rounds from their supporters. There are many people that checked the betting odds at bodog sports to find the best odd to place a bet on, with Giggs never proving a favourite as the fans’ choice, even if he was the bookies’.
Some have questioned his commitment, given Giggs pulled out of many friendly games as a player, but he has insisted that criticism is unfair. He enjoyed a fantastic career and was able to play at the top for so long because he managed his playing time. WalesOnline discussed this criticism in much more detail.
Giggs has revealed that he has already spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson about the job but insists that he is his own man. Wales fans should be pleased to have someone with the experience of playing under arguably the all-time greatest manager. Yet the only way Giggs will win them round is by the performances he can lead on the pitch. He’ll have a job being able to recreate the fantastic job of Chris Coleman in Euro 2016 but we can be certain that a winner like him will give it a good go!