Ryan Giggs still a man on the run with 146th Champions League game
RYAN GIGGS found himself caught up in another ‘monkey’ storm as the Welshman digested Manchester United’s midweek victory over Real Sociedad.
But happily there were no sinister overtones this time around as far as the game of football is concerned.
It was just another case of trying to balance the running order of what is rapidly becoming a hectic life.
A quick glance at the watch as he was asked for his reflections on United’s 1-0 Champions League win sparked panic. “I’ve got to pick the missus up – she’s been to see the Arctic Monkeys,” he said.
While the band had been playing at the Manchester Arena, Giggs, a month short of his 40th birthday, had been strutting his stuff – for the full 90 minutes – at Old Trafford.
No one has played more Champions League games than the mercurial forward. Wednesday night saw Giggs clock up his 146th appearance in the competition. And since David Moyes took over the helm at United, Giggs has assumed coaching responsibilities as well as rolling back the years as a player.
He maintains it has so far been a seamless transition. “No, I’ve not found a problem with it really but I think you’re probably best asking the players!” he said. “I hope they don’t feel any differently. It’s not gone quiet when I go into the dressing room – not yet anyway...
“I’ve tried to balance it the best I can. I try and help the players just as I did before I joined the coaching staff. I enjoy the coaching side, being in meetings, seeing the preparation the manager does. He’s been brilliant with me and I have really enjoyed learning off a really good manager and a really good coach.”
Brazilian full-back Rafael da Silva believes Giggs’ coaching skills go hand in hand with his age-defying on-field performances.
Rafael said: “He just breaks more and more records. You watch him in games and he is just running and running and running.
“People ask me what it is like to have him as a coach. I say he has always helped me and given me great advice.”
Giggs said: “I never thought I’d still be playing now but I am and I am enjoying it. I’ll try and contribute as much as I can. It’s getting less and less but I will try.
“I still feel quite good, and it helps that I am playing every couple of weeks. It’s not like I’m playing Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday like I used to. So I have time to recover and prepare. I feel just as good as I did three or four years ago.”
Not that the advancing years have made it easier for match officials who cop an earful from a fired-up Giggs. Against Real Sociedad Giggs was not shy to express an opinion.
“I’ve always moaned at referees,” he admitted. “I just try to do it in the correct way. Sometimes refs tell me I’m wrong and you hold your hands up.
“But I’ve always appreciated Champions League nights. They are special no matter who you play.”
Giggs has another place in football’s history books – winning a staggering 13 Premier League title medals but United have plenty of work to do this season if Giggs is going to make it 14.
He does not agree that the club has been subjected to biting criticism just because Sir Alex Ferguson has proved a hard act to follow.
“I think the criticism would have been the same if it had been the old manager,” said Giggs. “The results haven’t gone for us and we haven’t produced the performances we know we can.
“That has probably added to the criticism. We haven’t got off to a great start but there’s plenty of time to turn it around and hopefully we can do that. We have to keep working hard.”
Like everyone at Old Trafford, Giggs is delighted with the progress of Adnan Januzaj, the 18-year-old anointed as his successor, .
“There’s no real advice for him other than just keep doing what he’s doing,” Giggs said. “He’s a delight to watch and is a brilliant talent.”