Ryan Giggs’ 29-year-long relationship with Manchester United has come to an end at long last – they’re finally ready to stop breastfeeding their favourite son and let him face up to the big, bad footballing world on his own two feet.
Now 42 years old, Ryan Giggs has spent the majority of his life being mollycoddled at Old Trafford, from his teenage playing days right through to the birth of his managerial career. Manchester’s very own Peter Pan, Giggs spent the past two seasons working as Louis van Gaal’s hand-holding assistant manager, but will not be part of Jose Mourinho’s backroom team for the 2016/17 campaign.
Giggs was reluctant to leave the Old Trafford womb and had considered staying on at United in the cushty role of youth coach under Mourinho. But the Portuguese coach is far less nurturing than his predecessor and wished to appoint his long-standing deputy Rui Faria as United’s new assistant.
The decision has left Ryan out in the cold, who will now need to fend for himself rather than suckling on the club that has supported him for most of his life. Has life in the United nursery prepared the former winger for professional football management? It’s time for the Welshman to cut his teeth and find out:
“It has not been a decision that I have made lightly,
“I’ll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future.
“However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.”
The former Wales international had been pitched as a potential successor to van Gaal, who himself predicted Giggs to be United’s “next manager after I am gone”. Yet it was to be Mourinho, the more mature and experienced older brother, who was preferred by both the United hierarchy and supporters.
Cutting away the inevitable sentimental tributes from all parties, Giggs has left Old Trafford in a manner as soothing and amicable as a sharp slice through the umbilical cord – but it’s exactly what the Welshman needed.
It’s time for Giggs to stand on his own two feet and establish his own reputation in management. If Jose Mourinho’s stubborn approach to winning titles is to overhaul his backroom staff and kick Giggs out the door, then Giggs may end up owing a lot to the former Chelsea boss.
If he couldn’t see that he was never going to take the throne, even after the third significant regime change since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement – then a kick out the door was the necessary evil to make Giggs stand on his own two feet.
United have been more than generous in allowing Giggs to develop his coaching career, offering an invaluable education to prepare him for the managerial challenges ahead.
He cannily kept his distance from Moyes’ tainted campaign, hugging and hiding behind the former Everton man’s trouser leg as his regime crumbled around him, but there will be nowhere to hide when he steps into the dugout as the man at the helm.