Manchester United have never been the same since the departure of their decorated coach Sir Alex Ferguson. They have got four different coaches since, and have failed to win the coveted title for consecutive three seasons. Moreover, the English giants could not qualify for the UEFA Champions League in two of the past three seasons and the FA Cup last season remains to be the only trophy United won after Sir Alex’s reign.
People have often wondered what might have gone wrong for the side that ruled the British top tier for a long time. Manchester United can boast of winning a record 13 Premier League titles since its inception in 1992/93. Naturally, it comes as a shock to the fans and pundits alike when they see the club struggling to manage a top four finish. And now, one of the most decorated character of the club, Ryan Giggs, has penned down the changes he saw since Sir Alex left his managerial position in 2013.
In a blog written for The Guardian, the Manchester United legend revealed what he observed over the last few seasons.
Ryan Giggs joined the club back in 1987, when he was just 14. And for the next 29 years, he has been a one-club-man! The midfielder has been a pivotal part of Manchester United for all these years, winning top honours in all competitions. As a player, he has worked under Sir Alex since the beginning until the latter retired, and won 13 league titles in the process. The Welshman also has two Champions Leagues, four FA Cups and four League Cups in his trophy cabinet. And this huge experience has helped him realize what the fans must be going through for the last three seasons.
“Life moves on fast at Old Trafford and the preoccupation of United fans is what has happened since Sir Alex retired in 2013. I was part of that, as player-coach to David Moyes, and then assistant to Louis van Gaal and I know that the last three years have been hard for supporters,” Giggs said.
The veteran can distinctively recall the day his favourite coach retired, as he got a call from the boss when he divulged the surprise. Giggs also said that Sir Alex was the one who told him to take a player-coach role that season and help new manager David Moyes in his job.
The midfielder admitted that the decline in United’s form was never inevitable, but things, especially the transfers in the first summer under Moyes did not go well. Although he did not blame the former Everton manager directly, Giggs said, “The recruitment in that first summer under David Moyes didn’t go to plan.”
“He came in without any of the inside knowledge about how the squad worked: when certain players needed resting, who was right for which game, who needed to be moved on and who needed to be encouraged. Those of us who had lived through it could help him a bit, but a manager has to acquire that knowledge over time,” he further added.
At the same time, an out and out professional footballer Giggs also said that he had some bad times during the Moyes era when he wanted to play and he knew that he could give his best and can play better than many starters, but he did not get the chance. It was certainly hurting for someone like the hardworking professional.
On the other hand, when Louis Van Gaal came to Manchester United, he asked Giggs to retire and become his assistant. The midfielder openly admitted, “As soon as he said so, it felt right. I learned more about coaching from Louis over the next two years than I thought possible.”
“He (Van Gaal) was completely thorough. Everyone in the team knew their role exactly and in the first season we made good progress. It was only last season that we lost our way although it would be wrong to say that was all Louis’ fault. We must all take our share of the blame,” Giggs added.
It can be said beyond doubt that replacing someone like Sir Alex Ferguson is nearly impossible. Fans knew that. Still they hoped for much better performance from a club that have entertained viewers for ages, and the reality is hard to accept for many ardent supporters, including this author. But what was so special about Sir Alex?
Perhaps a Manchester United player or supporter can never understand it, as Ryan Giggs pointed out, “People say that Old Trafford under Sir Alex had an aura. I have no doubt we did but it is hard for me to define what that was because I only ever played for United.”
Do you think Manchester United will come back to their best any time soon? Let us know your views in the comments below!
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