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Birthday boy Giggs well on his way to becoming Manchester United manager

The Old Trafford legend celebrates his 41st birthday as Louis van Gaal’s side take on Hull City.

RYAN GIGGS IS the most decorated player in the history of English football but his “proudest moment” in the game was walking out of the tunnel at Old Trafford, suited and booted as Manchester United manager.

That was against Norwich City in April when Giggs took temporary charge following David Moyes’s dismissal, the first of four games in charge for the Welshman in which he won seven points.

“That was the proudest moment — walking out on to the pitch and the fans and the crowd giving me a great reception,” he reflected earlier this week. “Growing up as a child supporting United and then obviously being lucky enough to play for so many years – I never actually thought I would be in charge of the team.”

Today, Giggs celebrates his 41st birthday knowing that he is on the path to one day becoming United’s permanent manager. The 20-time English champions face Hull City at home in a repeat of Giggs’s last time in charge at Old Trafford last season before Louis van Gaal took control in the summer.

That game ended up in a 3-1 victory in which academy product James Wilson scored his first two senior goals for the club. Van Gaal is famed for nurturing proteges and has been credited with providing the training opportunities for great coaches including Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Frank de Boer.

For all Giggs’s insistence that he did not fall out with Moyes, it is true that the former midfield felt marginalised and ignored as part of the Scot’s coaching team last season, perhaps in part due to concerns that he was too close to some senior players. Van Gaal, however, has been quite the opposite, encouraging Giggs to get involved beyond being the man who puts out the cones before training sessions at the club’s Carrington base.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium Source: Martin Rickett

The Dutchman appreciates Giggs’s knowledge and understanding of a club with whom he won 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies but he has been handed more than a token role in the new setup. Van Gaal says that Giggs has been given responsibility for “analysing the opposition and then relaying to the players what we have found” while the 63-year-old also spoke of his assistant’s passion and determination when he held a meeting with the squad ahead of the Manchester derby earlier in November.

“I have seen a lot of trainees and I have thought that Ryan Giggs is a trainee but he isn’t a trainee, he is an exception,” said Van Gaal during a speech at an event to honour the Welshman in September.

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“I have seen a lot of trainees and I am very happy with him because he has showed already that he can communicate with the group in front of him.” Giggs has conspicuously sat next to Van Gaal during matches and been the man on the touchline during play, relaying instructions to the United players on behalf of his boss. Van Gaal is also far from the autocrat often depicted in the media. He welcomes Giggs’s input into discussions around issues such as team selection and tactics, and he wants the United legend to question him and engage in debate.

Such active involvement in day-to-day coaching and decision-making will stand Giggs in even better stead after 23 years as a top-level player, all but one of which were under  Alex Ferguson. While former team-mates such as Paul Scholes are migrating towards media careers, Giggs is determined to become a manager and even suggested earlier this week that that might happen away from United, the only club he has ever known.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Norwich City - Old Trafford Giggs took charge at end of last season. Source: Martin Rickett


“It’s like an apprenticeship, it’s like starting out as a footballer – you’ve got to learn your trade and that’s what I’m doing,” he said this week ahead of the launch of ‘Life of Ryan’, the DVD celebrating his playing career.

“It’s good. [Van Gaal] has been really good with me and he’s given me a lot of responsibility. “I know the club, I know the culture and I try and help the manager with that but obviously he’s the one with the experience and he’s managed so many clubs.

“We try and learn as much as we can from each other. I know some of the players that we’re playing against as I’ve played against them. It’s just about trying to help each other but he’s the manager and he makes the decisions and I’m trying to learn from him as much as I can.”

- Greg Stobart.

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