Taking the reins from Zola in A Different League’s Premier League Lessons series is Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs.
From Ryan Giggs’ last Premier League goal for Manchester United against Middlesbrough, it is evident that he still has the same quality he has shown throughout his elaborate career.
It was Giggs who scored 13 years ago when United won the title at the Riverside Stadium. This was a clear emulation of his younger self. A clear sign of a true United legend.
Giggs was only 17 years old when he made his debut in the 1990/91 season for the Red Devils in a 2-0 home defeat by Everton. Immediately, Giggs was able to impress Alex Ferguson and, consequently, became a first-team regular on the left wing the following campaign. His pace, agility and natural skill dazzled critics and teammates alike, allowing him to collect the PFA Young Player of the Year two years in succession – in both 1992 and 1993. A new, exciting talent was born.
Throughout his career he has dominated the left wing, producing performances comparable to those of Cristiano Ronaldo. As he challenged defenders with his speed and natural ability on the ball, he began to set a precedent of being the most decorated player in English football history. Having won 11 Premier League winners’ medals, two UEFA Champions League winners’ medals and four FA Cup winners’ medals in his 19 seasons as a professional, it is his desire to win yet more trophies which has resulted in him being a true fan favourite and well respected amongst his peers.
Adored by Manchester United’s young and old fans alike, Giggs is one of very few players who have survived from the early 90s. He is seen by young fans as the epitome of Manchester United and he is a perfect role model for any aspiring footballer. As for the older fans, he is the true reminder of United’s earlier success in which Ryan was extremely prominent. Besides that, Giggs always seems to be at the forefront of United’s successes and so the fans associate him with achievement. It was fitting that it was Giggs who scored the winning goal against Wigan – which would lead to the Red Devils winning the title for the 2007/08 campaign.
Giggs, or ‘Giggsy’, is perhaps most remembered for his fabulous individual effort in 1999 – which knocked arch-rivals Arsenal out of the FA Cup – in what happened to be the last semi-final replay. The clip will, for many, evoke memories of a piece of pure footballing brilliance.
This particular goal effectively sums up Giggs and the footballer he is. The sheer quality to capitalise from Patrick Vieira’s poor pass and convert it into the winning goal indicates that the winger is a player who is able to change a game with simply one moment of genius.
For over a decade, game after game, Giggs marched down the left wing. The ball would always appear to be attached to his boots, making it almost impossible for him to be dispossessed. Similar to Ronaldo nowadays, defenders feared both Giggs’ running with the ball and his ability to effortlessly switch play from left to right. Even as he aged, his pace hardly seemed to deteriorate as he continued to be instrumental in United’s rapid counter-attacking style. His exceptional dribbling skill is an integral part of his game, and this – combined with his pace – has been at the forefront of United’s attacking play for some time.
It is not just his remarkable attacking talent that won him the 2009 PFA Player of the Year award. It is his intelligence on the football field and his creative genius which provide such a valuable asset to the team. Perhaps due to his tiring legs, Sir Alex Ferguson has perfectly re-employed Ryan Giggs in a more central role this season which, in effect, has showcased the Welshman’s passing and defending abilities more than ever before. With his subtle passes and delightful flicks, Giggs has unselfishly created numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates.
His passing has enabled him to hold the league`s record for most all time goal assists with 66 – the nearest rival still playing in the league is Frank Lampard with 61. The veteran’s intelligence enables him to pick out key passes which, alongside Michael Carrick, provides a strong force in the United midfield. Giggs has been a delight to watch in the 2008/09 season as he orchestrated the north-west side’s midfield. Additionally, his determination to perform his defensive duties means that Giggs has the all-round abilities of a world class midfielder.
One quality many admire about Giggs is his work rate. It is amazing for a 35-year-old to still have the same determination to win matches as when he started his career. Even though he is not getting any younger, the veteran – both on and off the ball – utilises every last ounce of endurance he has in order to help his club win games. Whether he is running after the ball to regain possession or running into clever positions to create options for his teammates, Giggs stuns his fans and opponents alike with his unselfishness and constant energy.
With 148 Manchester United goals to his name, it is not surprising that Giggs has always had an attacking flair and an appetite for goals – spectacular ones at that. His clinical left foot chip shot is his signature strike, which has had many keepers scrambling in vain to stop the ball crossing the line. Giggs’ goals always seem to have such precision, such class and such significance – it is almost guaranteed that he will score when the Red Devils need it most. In Giggs has scored in every Premier League season that he has played in – a remarkable achievement when you take into account that he has been starting fewer games as his age progresses.
After the departure of Roy Keane, Gary Neville became the official captain of the club, with Giggs becoming vice-captain. A series of injuries to Neville over the last few seasons has permitted Giggs to take the leading role in the United dressing room. Captaining the side on numerous occasions, it was evident that Ferguson had placed his trust in Giggs’ experience. It was his sheer respect and presence that made him such a successful captain – with excellent discipline to boot. Just as predecessors did before him, he was able to use his intelligence on the pitch to rally and encourage his fellow teammates, particularly in difficult situations. The result was another Premier League title. To show their respect for Giggs’ excellent work as captain, he was allowed to lift the title in the 2007/08 campaign. Not only that, in December 2007, he was awarded an OBE for his serv