Smalling: Giggs can be United's Guardiola
Chris Smalling has hailed Ryan Giggs as Manchester United’s answer to Pep Guardiola.
United legend Giggs is being groomed as Louis van Gaal’s eventual successor at Old Trafford.
And United defender Smalling believes that the Welshman’s seamless transition from team-mate to assistant manager offers compelling proof that he will hit the same heights as a boss as he did when becoming the club’s most decorated player.
Guardiola, who will take over at Manchester City at the end of the season, came through the youth ranks at Barcelona to become the coach who steered the Catalan club to the pinnacle of European football.
And Smalling insists Giggs has what it takes to follow the same career path.
He said: “Ryan has all the qualities to be a great coach.
“The manager gives him a lot of responsibility when analysing teams and doing the team meetings. And quite often, when we are playing an 11 v 11 game in training, he will take one of the teams.
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“Ryan has that hunger and drive - and he also has respect. He has got everything to go a very long way in the game as a manager. Ryan has got everything right since becoming a coach.”
Smalling added: “It can be very difficult when you are in the dressing room and amongst lads who were your team-mates. But he has separated that because he’s now with the coaches.
“Obviously we still all talk with him and have a relationship with him, but it is very different now. He is a coach and we are players. He has got that blend spot-on. He wouldn’t let any relationship cloud his judgement.
“Believe me, he is nasty enough to be a manager - as we have seen in training. If we’re playing in a game and he’s not happy, he’ll let everyone know about it.
“He showed that throughout his playing career. And now he’s on the coaching side of things he’s not afraid to show when he’s angry. Everyone knows they are in the wrong.”
Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad is expected to propel City to another level. But Smalling is adamant that there is no sense of panic at United.
The England centre-back has warned, though, that United’s glorious history will count for nothing if they don’t respond to the neighbours’ growing challenge.
He said: "I don’t think the change of manager changes anything.
“History-wise, we are the biggest club. But in recent times the two Manchester clubs have been a lot closer so it’s a case of not being able to rest on what has gone before.
“It’s about what is happening now - and at the moment we need to catch them in the league.”