Giggs: Title closer than ever
Ahead of the new season, player-coach Ryan Giggs spoke to Inside United magazine about his hopes and expectations for the new season...
Your good mate Gary Neville said this is the most unpredictable Premier League season he can remember – would you go along with that?
Yes, definitely – and it’s all very exciting for the fans. From our perspective Sir Alex was here for so long and it’s a big change for the club. But there have also been changes at Chelsea and Manchester City and no-one really knows what will happen. There are some really good teams and some really good managers who are going to be battling it out and it’s probably going to be closer than ever. All the top teams have great quality. City will want to win the league back, Chelsea have got the experience of Jose Mourinho and, of course, we’re the champions. Then you’ve got the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool all fighting as well. So it promises to be a really exciting season.
We have a new manager leading us into the new season. What impresses you most about David Moyes?
He’s really hands-on on the training ground. He’s a manager that coaches and likes to be involved in everything. There’s good symmetry with Steve, Jimmy, Phil and myself – everyone works well together. He likes to take control of training but knows he’s got the other guys to help him. He’s a real details man, too. He likes to know everything about every player and that’s what you need to be a Manchester United manager – it’s all in the details. That’s what he is about.
He said he was nervous when he first addressed the squad – what was that like and what did he say?
It was good. He’s had a couple of chats with us so far and the players have really taken to him. He’s joined the champions and he wants to make us that little bit better. That’s his aim and hopefully he can achieve it.
What shape would you say this squad is in ahead of the season and is there extra determination to impress and do well under a new manager?
Definitely. When a new manager comes I think everyone wants to impress, but the challenge is always there when you’re at United, whether you’re attempting to win the league back or defending it. We know the standards we have to reach and we’re determined to reach them. We know it will be hard and a long fight, but we’re ready for it and hopefully we can win it again.
What will winning the title for the first time last term have done for young players like Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and David De Gea?
I know from personal experience how much it helped me and it will definitely help them a lot. It gives you that confidence to know you can do it and also come through the tricky situations you face during the season. You’ve got that experience to fall back on and as long as you keep that desire and that hunger you’ll be okay. You need to have that drive to do it again and again – that’s what this club is all about.
Which is the more potent weapon for a footballer – the hunger of youth or the know-how that comes with experience?
Both really. It’s something that we’ve always had a good balance of at United. You’ve got those players who have won trophies before and you have that hunger to win more and to keep improving both personally and as a team. We’ve got some really good characters in the team who have great experience – Rio, Nemanja, Patrice, Wayne, Michael and we’ve also got some very talented and determined young lads. So there is a good mix. That’s something we’ve always had and will no doubt continue to have.
What is the number one priority for United this season – is a trophy a must in David Moyes’ first season?
I don’t think you can say we have to win this or we have to win that. All you can do is perform to the best of your ability and if it’s not good enough it’s not good enough. It’s under-performing that people won’t put up with and rightly so. Doing your best is the most important thing and hopefully we can finish the season with one or two trophies.
Do you have bigger goals as a coach or as a player this season or is it too difficult to separate the two?
I haven’t really set myself any goals for either. I just look at things the same way I always do – when I play I want to be able to be contribute and be as effective as I can. I know I won’t play a lot of the games, but I know how important it is that when I do play I have an effect on the games. In terms of my coaching role the same rule applies really – to try to be effective and help the other players in various situations during the season.
It’s a tough question to end on… but you were offered a 14th Premier League winners’ medal or a third Champions League this season, which would you take?
[Pauses] That is a difficult one. I think you always go out each season to win the league. That’s always the priority. The rest is a lottery really. We saw that last season [in the Champions League against Real Madrid]. You can play well, perform well and do everything that’s asked of you but then things just don’t quite happen. All we can do is our best. But this club is all about winning. We’re the champions and we want to defend our title.