What can Ryan Giggs offer to Manchester United?
Regulars on Facebook and Twitter or the ones who had logged on to these sites on Saturday night & Sunday would have seen the ‘Giggs should not start games now’, ‘Maybe Giggs should retire now’ posts and comments galore by the fans. Let me make it clear, this article does not follow the trend. In fact, I believe Giggs should not only complete this season but go on to play the next one too.
People who have followed the Premier League or Manchester United for the last 12-15 years will remember how Giggs’s was in his prime. He established himself as the first-choice left Winger in Sir Alex’s squad in the mid-90′s and excelled in that role for more than a decade. Giggs is renowned for his tireless running, ball possession and ability to create goal-scoring opportunities for those around him. That amazing solo goal against Arsenal in the FA cup semi-final replay when he burst into in a run from the half way line, slalomed past the Arsenal defense afraid to bring him down and then smashed an unstoppable shot past David Seaman perhaps best describes the icon’s game.
However, as he started to age, Sir Alex started to play him in a deep playmaking role. Although not as brilliant as he was on the wings, his performances have been good enough in that role too. But now at the ripe age of 38, his recent performances clearly show he has struggled a bit in that role. But its not down just to Giggs and his age. The midfield and the players around him have also contributed to bring about the effect.
Giggs has often partnered Carrick in the central midfield. Carrick, although a good passer of the ball, is not as good at distribution as other midfielders like Alonso, Pirlo or even Scholes. The lack of distribution results in the players having to run a lot more to get the ball and also with the ball. And United play a high tempo game, which results in Giggs getting tired even quicker. And when this happens his decision making and passing level especially in the final third goes down; plus the fact his tackles and interceptions per match have never been on a central midfielder’s standard.
At this point in time, a role that Giggs can excel in is Football’s equivalent to Baseball’s ‘Closer’. A closer in baseball is a Relief Pitcher i.e. a substitute for the starting pitcher, who is brought on mostly in the final 1 or 2 innings when the team is leading to get the final few outs and close out the game. In football the super-sub is quite famous. The opposite of that can be done with Giggs. When Man Utd is leading and the last quarter of the game is remaining, Giggs can be substituted in. With the experience he has and fresh legs in his system he can very well help preserve the lead and close out games. Midfielders like Cleverly, Fletcher can go on the wings or he can be substituted for one of the strikers and can play behind the other for the remaining of the game.
However, becoming a dedicated ‘Closer’ wont be possible with the injuries and the amount of games United play in a season. So Giggs will have to start some games. But in such games, if Rooney starts along with Cleverly/Anderson partnering Giggs in the midfield, which didn’t happen in the Norwich game, the lack of energy and the flow of the game will be regulated. Also, there are rumours that a possible swoop for Lars Bender/Kevin Strootman is on the cards. Having either of them as a partner will also benefit Giggs and the team.
I will end the article on the point from which I started it. The ones who were crazily posting ‘Giggs should retire now’ were just emotional unhappy fans who thought Man Utd were not c0meback ‘Avengers’ like always and Giggs on the day was more ‘Steve Rogers’ than Captain America or rather Captain United. Giggs’s role might get changed or more likely he will play less, but he is here to stay.