Ryan Giggs: Sir Alex Ferguson had everything
Ryan Giggs has compared the methods of Sir Alex Ferguson and Louis van Gaal, following on from Wayne Rooney's comments on the Dutchman in a newspaper column.
United's all-time record appearance-maker was the latest guest on the MUTV Group Chat, and was soon asked about his former team-mate's praise for van Gaal.
Rooney had written in his Sunday Times column that “tactically, van Gaal was by far the best” but that, overall, “Fergie was streets ahead”, and Giggs admitted he completely understood the legendary striker's judgment.
“I understand what Wayne was saying,” explained Giggs. “Obviously we both worked under Sir Alex who I’ve known since I was 13. Sir Alex had everything – man-management, discipline, standards, tactics, knowing a player… but with him, because we had such good players who had been together for a long time, you’d just go out and play. You knew your role, it was just a matter of just tweaking it.
“With Louis it was probably the opposite. We played different systems under him whereas under Sir Alex we more or less just played one system and we’d tweak it. I can’t remember us ever playing three at the back, maybe once or twice if we needed to hold on, but other than that we didn’t.”
Giggs, who is currently the manager of the Welsh national team, thinks the differences between the two managers was down to their divergent experiences.
While Ferguson had an instinctive understanding with his squads at United, built over lengthy periods of time, van Gaal loved to work on different tactical approaches and ideas, picked up from his many years traversing the continent and working in Holland, Spain and Germany.
“It was about getting an understanding of the different ways to play,” noted Giggs. “So I know what Wayne was saying because Louis worked a lot more on the training pitch with regards to patterns of play and tactical work.
“He’d come from Holland and also an international background and he took that into club football, so we had a lot of meetings – players felt sometimes too many! With Sir Alex it was quite simple. I’m not saying we didn’t have meetings – of course we did – but we had such good players that the manager would just need to tell them once and it would just be a little tweak here and there, like Ji-sung Park would go and mark Pirlo for example and Ji would do it and do it brilliantly. So I know what Wayne meant in terms of learning a lot under Louis.”
However, the two undoubtedly shared some similar qualities according to our former no.11, including a cast-iron commitment to discipline in all departments.
“Discipline for one, that was the one thing that Sir Alex and Louis had,” surmised Giggsy. “Standards in training and on the pitch in games and also believing in young players.
“I got a chance at 17 and I’ve tried to do the same with Wales: pick out the best young players and give them a chance. If they take their chance then great, if they don’t then at least they’ve had a chance. And it’s about trying to play football in the right way, an exciting way, scoring goals and having players on the pitch who want to excite the fans and excite me as well.”