An Audition To Become Part Of Furniture

Ryan Giggs may not be the next United manager, but he gets the chance to prove that he should be the one after that. Plus, the next hurdle in Liverpool's sprint for the line.

Last Updated: 24/04/14 at 20:41 Post Comment

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Ryan Giggs
No sooner had Giggs been appointed as United's interim manager then he had been ruled out of the running to take it on a full-time basis. United wouldn't appoint a managerial rookie, would they?

Quite possibly not, but it is clear that such stories have merely been released to the media in order to lower the pressure on Giggs during his first steps in management. Fail to rule him out of the running and the next four games would simply become a universally-examined three-week audition for one of the biggest jobs in the game.

More pertinently for Giggs is the impact this could have on his future. One would suspect that as soon as an alternative is chosen to replace David Moyes, Giggs will immediately be installed amongst the favourites to be the next man in the hotseat, and therefore the Old Trafford hierarchy will be scrutinising the next four games, looking for a sense whether Giggs has the desired credentials and demeanour.

In many ways, the Welshman can't lose, the uneasy cloud of the David Moyes era has been lifted. Tactically leaked stories of him reportedly disagreeing with Moyes on the fining of United players photographed on a recent night out will help, but Giggs will benefit simply from not being his predecessor.

Never was that more evident than when Giggs spoke this week of his intention to play with a style rarely seen under Moyes. "We will go back to playing like Manchester United," Giggs reportedly told his squad on his first day of training, a call to arms that is likely to immediately ensure a sense of much-needed camaraderie between management and players.

Win all four matches between now and May and removing Giggs would be a damn difficult PR move from United's next permanent manager. He may not be auditioning for the leading role, but short-term success could still see Giggs become part of United's long-term future.

United's Players
Whilst pretty much every single United fan apportions at least some part of the blame for Moyes' failure at the feet of a significantly regressed playing staff, in effect that doesn't really matter right now, because one half of that power struggle has been removed.

It's understandable that supporters would give the players the benefit of some doubt over the whole affair. Other than Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, each of the squad has been at Old Trafford longer than Moyes and had won at least one Premier League title, therefore earning more trust and loyalty than the new man through the door.

Under Ryan Giggs, Untied through and through, the reverse is now true. That patience has run thin and will take no more of the dross served up recently. It's one thing not turning up for David Moyes, but it's a whole different matter not turning in a shift for Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. Fail to perform under Moyes and it can be considered his fault, but fail under two and it's the players that will feel the most vehement wrath of supporters.

Time to turn up then, starting with Norwich on Saturday teatime. One begins to feel a little sympathy for Neil Adams.

And so it comes down to this. Three more matches.

Arsenal were meant to provide a stern test, but were brushed aside. A trip to St Mary's was meant to be tricky, but was won with ease. Manchester United were supposed to be up for the occasion, and yet were limp and lifeless. Manchester City had the best squad, but Liverpool found a way to win. Cardiff, Fulham, Swansea, Spurs, West Ham and Norwich, all were considered to be banana skins, but Brendan Rodgers' side jumped over each potential obstacle unscathed. Eleven matches, eleven victories.

Chelsea and Jose Mourinho are the next hurdle, and even that has been slightly diminished amidst talk of reserve sides and 'playing the kids;' with a Champions league semi-final to follow for Jose's side in midweek. Rodgers will guard against any complacency, but it's difficult not to think that everything is falling into place for Liverpool.

As it happens, a draw will surely do for Liverpool, who are now as short as 1/6 to lift the title. Given that some papers predict a defence of Tomas Kalas, Jon Obi Mikel, Andreas Christensen and Nathan Ake, one would think that Chelsea will have to score at least twice to gift Manchester City with the opportunity they need.

It all just seems a touch fanciful and, although supporters at Anfield will not yet allow themselves to get excited, Liverpool have one hand on their debut Premier League title. Beat Chelsea and you can make that a hand and four fingers.

Where once there was only despair, now hope exists. But you know what hope does to football supporters. There is little doubt Sunderland's response in recent matches against Manchester City and Chelsea has been astonishing.

"As soon as I said we needed a miracle, things changed, Poyet said. "The players kept believing. We needed something special and it happened in the last four or five days."

"I'm a believer, I am committed and I know what we can do. With results like today you can expect anything from us." It sounds as much like the manager is thanking a deity as much as his squad.

Sunderland are a frankly baffling Premier League side. They are the only team to win away at more than one of the top six this season, and yet have not beaten a bottom-half team at home in more than 15 months. They've taken two points at home to bottom half teams and 11 points away at the top half - that's just bloody silly.

Now would be a good time to address that rotten run at the Stadium of Light. With Sunderland's only remaining away game being at a presumably rejuvenated Manchester United, the Black Cats probably need to take six points from home fixtures against Cardiff, West Brom and Swansea in order to complete the most unlikely of survival bids.

Manchester City
Still second favourites for the title, and yet by the time City begin their game against Palace at Selhurst Park they could be just two points ahead of Everton with a trip to Goodison to follow. It would be some fall for them to miss out on qualification for the Champions League, but lose to Palace and it suddenly moves outside the realm of unthinkable.

What's more, City must guard against a Palace side in phenomenal form. Tony Pulis' side have taken 15 points from their last five league matches, whilst City have dropped seven points in that time, winning only two of their last six away from home in all competitions.

At the bizarre stage when fans may be better off listening to their radios and checking their phones for news of other games than they are watching their own team. Speaking from experience, that's a horribly nervous existence.

Victors in each of their last three matches against teams outside the top six, you couldn't really have asked much more from Fulham since mid-March. With their last three games being against Hull (h), Stoke (a) and Crystal Palace (h), there seems to be genuine cause for optimism - Felix Magath may be able to achieve the improbable.

That said, should Sunderland win their game in hand Fulham probably need seven points to survive, meaning Saturday's game against Hull at Craven Cottage is filed under 'must win'. Lose and that might just be that.

Aston Villa
It really isn't fun being a Villa fan right now. Since May last year they have won consecutive matches on only one occasion, it's now six victories since September and since December alone have suffered defeats to Stoke (twice), Crystal Palace (twice), Manchester United (twice) Fulham (twice), Sheffield United, West Ham, Newcastle, Arsenal and Everton. They have also failed to score more than one goal in each of their last six games (and just 3 of their last 21 matches).

What's more, Paul Lambert's side are being dragged into a relegation battle they have been lucky to keep at arm's length given their woeful form. Lose to Swansea on Saturday and they could be two points from relegation with three games remaining, the entire bottom three still able to catch them.

With visits to White Hart Lane and the Etihad in their final two matches, Villa could well be the team dragged into the mire. Given the mind-numbing nature of their football of late, it would be difficult to have too much sympathy.

Lose to Sunderland and they just ain't staying up. Sorry Ole, not Gunnar happen. (and sorry to you, dear reader, for the tired pun).

Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter.

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Readers' Comments


ow are people still backing Arsenal for the title? It's like you're predicting the tide not to come in; Arsenal will finish third or fourth and make the quarter final of the Champions League. It was ever thus.

F365's Season Predictions


othing screams 'Panic!!' when your new manager brings Fellaini on as a sub for your star signing of the summer and within 5 minutes you concede the winner. I know it is only the first game in but I would seriously be sh1**ng myself I was a Man Utd supporter. This has the potential of being very nasty indeed.

Now Are You Nervous, Louis?


n the words of Pete Townsend, meet the new boss, the same as the old boss. Though I would comment that it's 3 more points than we picked up in the same fixture last year, so that's a 100% improvement.

uncle monty
No Sign That Liverpool Will Lessen Attacking Intent

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