Ryan Giggs is a model professional footballer – exceptionally talented but humble, doesn’t go out of his way to seek media attention, fiercely loyal to Manchester United and always giving 100% on the pitch. He has been rewarded for his commitment over the years, and there is a lot of support for Giggsy to play on for Manchester United for another couple of years.
However, Giggs is at the stage of his career where he’s not fast enough to play as a genuine winger but still talented enough to make things happen when the ball is at his feet. This causes a problem for Manchester United and Alex Ferguson, because they now have several players on their hands (Scholes and Neville are the two others) who are talented enough to be in Manchester United’s starting XI but not able to keep up with the pace of the Premier League.
In some ways this is how David Beckham’s career has turned in the last couple of years. He’s still a talented footballer but lacks the pace to affect the game from the wings. This sees him going all over the pitch in search of the ball (as Giggs does) and quite often cutting into central midfield to be more involved in play (as Giggs does these days).
There’s a difference though – Beckham’s presence is a financial boon to any football club, and he still has the killer delivery ball to change the game. Ryan Giggs, without his pace, is just a top-notch dribbler who can be contained by fast, intelligent full-backs. Giggsy is not better than Beckham at free kicks and he’s not going to sell as many shirts, ever. Giggsy has the better ball skills but once the opposition defence knows that they just have to sit back and block passing opportunities, he’s reduced to passing the ball back into central midfield.
Giggsy is turning into Becks – a player that is carried by the team – but doesn’t give Manchester United the same benefits as Becks would give to a club (ability to win a game, financial revenues).
Before you flame me for this, let me assure you that I think Giggsy is a world-class winger, but in the interest of Manchester United we have to be forward-looking and think of what is best for the team. Having Giggsy as a starting certainty is not the way to go forward.