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Does Giggsy Deserve All The Stick?

Ryan GiggsRyan Giggs has cemented himself in the history books, not just for United, but English football. He currently holds the record for the most English league titles won by a player, with 9 winners medals, and it will be some time until that is beaten. Paul Scholes is the only player who stands to threaten his title, but would have to win the league a further four times after Giggs retired. The winger features in the top 15 goalscorers in the history of the Premier League, and has the 4th highest number of appearances.

However, there has been growing concern from United fans considering that Giggs is a player best left in the history books, and not in our starting line-up.

At Blackburn at the weekend Sir Alex Ferguson had the sense to bring Nani, who has been impressive in the chances he’s been given this season, on to the pitch at the restart, replacing an unimpressive Giggs. Whilst allowance can be made for his loss of pace, his 34-year-old legs straining to bomb down the wing these days, there is no excuse for Giggs’ all round general contribution. Lazy flicks to no one have replaced the precise passing, whilst his lack of ability to take players on leave him losing possession for the team time and again. With the finish line approaching, we can’t afford to have players like that on the pitch.

Giggs has today defended himself against the mounting criticism, naively claiming the complaints have arisen because he’s been at the club for a long time. Who’s right, the fans or the player?

“Getting criticism is part of being a Manchester United player. It doesn’t bother me,” Giggs said. “I don’t know why I’m singled out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been around so long. But the one person I have to impress is the manager – and while he is picking me, I know I am good enough.”

This of course isn’t the first time Giggs has felt the flack from United fans. Despite being one of the greatest players the club has ever had, his form has never been entirely consistent. This should be expected however, because which player has managed to stay on the top of their game for 17 years? For Giggs to hold down a place in the best side in England for the majority of his career speaks volumes about his ability.

Ahead of the FA Cup game against Arsenal in 1999, when Giggs scored “that” goal, he had been dropped due to poor form. In the league game preceding the Cup match, Giggs was an unused sub, despite United chasing a victory in their 1-1 draw against MK Dons (ah, those were the days eh?). Before scoring the goal that will go down as arguably the greatest ever in the FA Cup, Giggs started the game on the bench, replacing Blomqvist with an hour played. He has therefore shown that he has the strength of character to ride through the criticism and come up with the goods in the end. However, Giggs was 25-years-old then, it’s a different story now.

I’ll vent my frustrations with Giggsy in the ground, but was amongst the United fans singing his song at Ewood Park on Saturday. However annoying Giggs can be, there’s always something tugging at you, telling you not to slate him, which has helped me search for someone else to point the finger at.

Last year, Giggs played in an impressive 44 games for United, including an FA Cup final, as well as both legs of the Champions League quarter and semi-finals. By the time Wembley rolled around, Giggs was absolutely knackered. He lasted 112 minutes before being subbed off for veteran Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but could barely jog by the time he left the field.

He has since retired from International football, playing in 5 matches for Wales last season, and Sir Alex Ferguson seems to think that’s reason enough to give him more games than he can manage for United. It’s ridiculous to play a 34-year-old as frequently as Fergie has played Giggs this season, particularly considering his declining form. When we have the emerging talent of Nani to play, there is no reason to keep throwing Giggs in to the starting team. Whilst Nani still needs to learn when is the time to shoot and when is the time to pass, (which is all too remnant of our other Portuguese player in his first few seasons with the club!) he has put on several blinding performances for us and is more than worthy of a starting place in the side. Equally, Park has shown he is deserving of more starts since returning from his long term injury. He made Rooney’s goals against Roma and Middlesbrough earlier this month, which is a lot more than can be said of Giggs’ contribution of late.

So is it Ryan to blame here, or the manager? Giggs can only give his best and if his best isn’t good enough anymore, particularly on a weekly basis, then should he be slated for that? Is he supposed to instead tell Fergie he won’t play, for fear of coming under more criticism from the fans?

Recently, in a period of 14 days, Giggs played for 90 minutes on two occasions, against Derby and Aston Villa, as well as 73 minutes against Liverpool. Giggs’ replacement against the dippers, Nani, scored a cracking goal after 8 minutes on the field, but the message still hasn’t seem to have gone through to the manager.

Giggs still has a place in our team, no doubt, and as we’ve seen already this season, after being rested, the hunger seems to get to him, and his fresher legs have a lot more to offer. However, with United having the strongest squad they’ve ever had in terms of depth, I struggle to understand why Ferguson is so insistent on playing Giggs so frequently. Not even playing him so frequently, but so often for so much of the game. Giggs has played for 90 minutes on 18 occasions this season.

Some fans have harshly claimed we’d be better off playing with 10 men than with Giggs on the field, but if recent displays are anything to go by, there is some truth to that. At least our lads could pass it amongst themselves, rather than giving Giggsy the ball to lose a few moments later.

So come on Fergie, give Giggs a chance, and put him on the bench!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Primachenko says:

    i agree with most of the lads on this site and redrants. giggs should be brought on as a super sub or to bring composure to an already won game. starting giggs, much less playing him for the full 90, is a big liability.

  2. Messiah says:

    I think Giggs should only be used as a sub, if we make it through to the CL final and Giggs plays a part in every game ’til then he’ll equal Sir Bobbys record, as soon as he’s surpassed it I expect him to play a very bit part next season, I really hope we bring in another winger, the fat lady is getting warmed up, Giggs’ days are numbered, he shall never be forgotten, my all time favorite player, he’ll always be in our hearts, I have no doubt he’ll break the appearance record but the sooner the better ‘cuz he’s starting to cost us. His contribution will never be underestimated, this club wouldn’t have been the same without him.

  3. Tom F says:

    I don’t think it is right to slate Ryan Giggs after everything he has done for this club. If SAF Chooses to play him when he isn’t quite cutting it week in, week out then that is the managers decision and fault.

    I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Giggs real ability, he has had a blip this season but still has it in him to put in some top displays in the final year or so of his career.

    He also has vital experience that we could use late in important games. He cannot run his legs in to the ground any more but his brain is at the best stage of his career.

    We need more time to make a seemless change in first team priority too. Nani has what it takes to replace Giggsy game after game but another season will see Nani come on a lot more than we thought originally.

    It’s nice to know, a LEGEND who’d get into almost any starting 11, in any team is fighting hard for a place. We have such a strong squad and I am happy we have such a ‘dilema’.

  4. jimmy Bob says:

    hes past his best and imo nani should be starting but save the jeers for a guy who doesn’t give his all and hasnt been a huge part of our success in recent years

    Giggs is a legend and deserves respect
    a supportive crowd can lift a player i cant recall a hostile crowd lifting a player by getting on his back

    dont forget he had this before an away game in europe a few years back and got two versus juve

    top man ryan do it again son

  5. Daniel says:

    Remember that although Giggs was played for 90 minutes against Borough and Villa, Nani was injured and was unable to play. Nani has been on the mend lately and the gaffer might have not felt he wasn’t ready for a full 90 minutes against Blackburn on the weekend, hence preserving him for these upcoming matches where our squad is surely going to be stretched to the limit.
    I think SAF played Giggs in these games due to his ‘tsqueeky-bum-time; experience, and I don’t think he’ll get a start in Spain tomorrow night.
    Don’t forget the gaffer left him out of a crucial match against Arsenal, something that Giggs surely cannot be happy about- showing that he is prepared to rest him now and again.

  6. Tom F says:

    Yup Jimmy Bob- a bit like the scum who were walking around OT with ‘Fergie Out’ Banners good few years ago.

    As supporters we owe respect and more importantly.. SUPPORT.

  7. United on Fire says:

    You should never slate any of your own players whilst they are on the pitch (with the possible exception Silvestre) as it can translate into further loss of belief/form which is no good for the player. team or fans.

    By all means do what you like away from the stands … personally he should be super-sub now

    UIt pains me to say it as Giggs is my personal hero, I’m virtually the same age as him and he grew into the team. My cat was called Giggsy and you just can’t criticise your own cat.

  8. CHRISPUS says:


  9. Jak says:

    Off the bench, when we need a calming presence, and we’re in a good offensive position.

    You can’t fight time. Giggs is not the player he was. He shouldn’t be criticized for that – it will happen to all of us. We should be needling SAF for playing him, when he shouldn’t. Giggs is a proud man – he’s not going to take supporter criticism lightly. But it’s up to his manager to know when to strategically use the gifts that Giggs has left to offer.


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