Ryan Giggs: Either implicated or irrelevant

Date published: Monday 14th December 2015 10:51

As the crushing dullness dished out by Manchester United keeps on boring and frustrating, Louis Van Gaal is taking a lot of flak for their poor performances and rightly so, but, hold on, surely there is an elephant in the room, or perhaps it’s a dragon.

And its name is Ryan Giggs.

As United slowly fall to pieces, Giggs has largely escaped any criticism whatsoever. This is entirely typical of the English media, especially the press corps, who are always silent about the failures of any indigenous player or coach, in the way they rarely are with someone from overseas. If you doubt this, imagine Louis van Gaal’s assistant manager was Andre Villas-Boas. Yeah, now you can be sure someone would have asked what he was actually doing and whether he was actually part of the problem, not vaunting him as some sort of magical solution. If he was foreign, it would all be different.

After all, he’s won nothing in any managerial capacity and he has little managerial or coaching capital to draw upon and yet he is somehow Manchester United’s assistant manager as the club stagnates and bores. Questions need to be asked that are not being asked.

So let’s ask them. What is Giggs actually doing? What is his contribution? Does he help pick the team? Is he putting the cones out? Is he taking training? Is he involved in devising tactics? Is he giving inspirational team talks? Is he a laptop guru, analysing the stats? Does he do the washing and make the toast?

And when those have been answered, exactly why is he the best choice to be doing whatever it is that he’s doing? Because whatever it is that he is doing, other than sitting on the bench looking like the ashen ghost of Christmas past, it’s not working, is it?

If, as some in the press want us to believe, he’s been marginalised the Van Gaal and so none of United’s woes can be laid at his door, then frankly that paints him as someone too weak to stand up for himself and as a man with a sense of entitlement who is just biding his time, waiting for the inevitable privilege of being United manager to be bestowed upon him, despite him doing little of any quality either as assistant manager or when he was the actual manager for four games.

There certainly seems little rapport between him and the Dutchman. The grim silence on the United bench is revealing. Giggs doesn’t even make notes, maybe fearing not being seen as a Proper Football Man if he does. Most of the time he looks like he’s haunting the bench, like an apparition from the golden era and very much a reminder to all of what once was, but which is no longer. Surely it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe he’s a becoming a millstone around the players’ necks as the glory years made extant.

And by the way, why the hell should he be the next United manager? Surely you have to prove you can do the job in some way, shape or form and in that regard the evidence isn’t good. When interviewed, he’s hardly in the Gary Neville school of analysis and erudition. He’s clearly not a motivational speaker. In the Class of 92 programmes he came over as largely testing the boundaries of dull. A go-along-er rather than a leader.

It’s not to say Giggs can’t become a good manager or a good coach, but there’s no evidence he’s that at the moment. You’ve got to go and manage and learn how to do it. Just having being great at football is obviously not enough, even if some of the less intellectually ambitious press just can’t get past this idea. In fact, it’s almost not relevant at all. That doesn’t need proving anymore.

So what’s he there for, again? There are two choices. He’s either implicated in the failure or he’s irrelevant. Neither is a good look for a future United manager. And yet, reports suggest he’s been given a ‘cast iron guarantee’ that he’ll replace Van Gaal. Really?

If true, that’s extraordinarily irresponsible because frankly, there’s no proof at all he’s any good at anything apart from playing football and he can’t do that anymore.

Let’s re-cap. If true, United want to give the job to someone who was a player-coach under David Moyes, which ended in their worst season in decades and who is assistant manager during their worst spell of form since, well, the previous season. And his fans are trying to tell us none of this is his fault? Absolutely none. We are entitled to be very, very cynical about that.

Giggs has a lot of support, and I understand why, but that doesn’t absolve him of some responsibility for the current malaise, and it doesn’t make him any good in a managerial capacity, and until there’s actually some proof, why should we assume that he is?

John Nicholson

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