Snake in the grass? Ryan Giggs’ attempted management coup

March 29, 2016 Tags: , , Reads 32 comments
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Ryan Giggs’ future is one of Manchester United’s biggest enigmas – and there are plenty of questions surrounding England’s falling giant. The Red Devils career-man came through United’s academy to become a playing legend, one of the most famous figures to ever walk out at Old Trafford. So, with such a storied history, what is Giggs’ next move?

Giggs became part of the backroom staff during the failed David Moyes era – a 10-month period that remains an unmitigated disaster. Somehow free from blame, in one of the greatest farces in modern football history, Giggs was promoted on retirement to become Louis van Gaal’s assistant, seemingly at the club’s insistence, and despite holding little coaching experience.

The result is that the Welshman has played a leading role in not one but two failed regimes. Indeed, there is a school of thought that says Giggs has enjoyed a significant say in what has happened over the past three years of failure. Whether supporters care to admit it, the Welshman cannot be free from of blame for United’s fall.

Yet, it is Giggs who is being championed by some as the next manager of England’s greatest club. List the names that have publicly, or privately, trumpeted his appointment: Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Lee Sharpe, Nemanja Vidic, Bryan Robson, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton. While neither Ferguson nor Charlton have gone public, it is clear that behind the scenes the pair is working both the media and club hierarchy in favour of the former winger.

Is is no coincidence that the noise emanating from Giggs’ camp grows louder with each terrible result. Nor was it a surprise that, once again, Giggs performed another act of defiance when wandering down the touchline late in the second leg of the Europa League aggregate defeat to Liverpool.

Of course, some sections of United’s fanbase believe this act alone is qualification for the main job, although the reality is that the Welshman looked just as confused and helpless as his boss did in the stands. After all, if standing on the touchline bellowing instruction is a prerequisite for the manager’s position, then there are many more qualified for the job.

"Is is no coincidence Giggs’ camp grows louder with each terrible result. Nor was it a surprise that Giggs performed another act of defiance in wandering down the touchline during United’s defeat to Liverpool."

Ultimately, Giggs’ grandstanding is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, let alone a serious factor in management or the night’s disappointing result. The critical skills in management – generating positive results – are not those that Giggs or Van Gaal currently possess, although the pair is clearly on different career trajectories.

The question of Giggs’ future is pertinent though as there have been rumours that the United winger is willing to try his hand elsewhere if he doesn’t land the big job. For the moment that scenario appears to be more part of the chess game than a genuine threat. If the Welshman wanted to try for another managerial position he could have done so already. He hasn’t – and it is clear that Giggs wants the top job.

Many supporters wonder why Van Gaal hasn’t been given his marching orders already, although José Mourinho’s apparent reluctance to take a job mid-season is perhaps at the core. After all, the Portuguese is unlikely to want to be associated with the shambolic way the club is being run this season. Giggs, as the likely stand-in, has seemingly made it clear that he doesn’t want the job on a part-time basis.

Meanwhile, team Giggs is working the angles. Scholes has been in Giggs’ corner the whole time, for obvious reasons, using his prominent role on BT Sport to undermine Van Gaal’s position. This is no surprise, considering the pair’s relationship as long-time teammates, close friends and business associates.

Behind the scenes the power struggle continues – just one factor in the continuing delay in clarifying speculation that surrounds the managerial post at Old Trafford. There is a divide between Ed Woodward and the Glazers in one camp, and the others – including Ferguson, Charlton and David Gill – in another. Some want Mourinho’s brand of success to drag United from its knees; others shy away from the Portuguese’s flaws and want Giggs’ more traditional brand.

There are, of course, plenty in United’s support that cannot countenance the thought of Giggs undermining his immediate boss, nor the Welshman’s camp politicking for their favourite son. Indeed, some will take offence at the very thought.

The observation is no criticism of the player, whose on-the-field achievements cannot be denied. It is, however, an indictment of the man who must take his share of the blame for the past three years. Blame in the context of Giggs’ desire to take on the position that he has wanted for so long.

Yet, the question of whether the club, which is so badly in limbo, can afford to take a chance on the man who might already be part of a systemic problem is a pertinent one.


Chris - March 29, 2016 Reply

If he’s happy enough doing his brother over then LVG won’t be a moral problem. He seems very Machiavellian

Arnaud Bigaignon - March 29, 2016 Reply

Mourinho?? Doesn’t last more than 3 years; heavy purchaser…all his teams need massive rebuild after he’s left! Also look at his last club…not better than Van Gaal!

Denton Davey - March 29, 2016 Reply

How in the world can you “question” Jo$e – a serial winner (and still the defending EPL-champion’s manager before the team quit (?) on him) – who has a string of championships/trophies while trumpeting SilentRyan who, as the article notes, has been a significant member of not one but two failed post-SAF regimes ?

As if those two regimes were not “heavy purchasers. AND, the CSKALondon team that he left in 2006 hardly needed a “massive rebuild” when he left as its core – Lampard, Cole, Terry, Drogba, Cech and Ivanovic – were all first-teamers throughout the past decade when Chelsea won three EPL trophies as well as a CL trophy and assorted knock-out trophies.

The notion that he’s “not better than Van Gaal” is just ludicrous – LvG won the CL once (twenty years ago) whereas Jo$e has won it twice as well as being the manager of a Madrid team that scored record goal-totals in La Liga while knocking Barcelona off-their-perch (the same Barcelona team that ran UTD ragged in the 2011 CL final @ Wembley).

You might not “like” Jo$e – I might not “like” Jo$e – but if you object to the man then, at the very least, support your opposition to him with credible evidence.

Meanwhile, what – exactly – has SilentRyan ever done to justify a managerial appointment. The author of this rant is exactly spot-on – SilentRyan’s qualifications for the job are the-square-root-of-sweet-fuck-all.

Keith Patrick Kenny - March 29, 2016 Reply

Worth remembering Giggs didn’t retire to become a coach for Moyes. Hardly “played a leading role” in that failed regime.

Kevin - March 29, 2016 Reply

Very good point. There are lots of questions to ask about Giggs. Brilliant player, not quite so sure about human being, coach and potential manager.

NazManUnited - March 29, 2016 Reply

@AdamJosephSport Giggs thinks he’s the Special One 😂

NazManUnited - March 29, 2016 Reply

But he wasn’t even the Chosen One 😎

NazManUnited - March 29, 2016 Reply

@AdamJosephSport But he wasn’t even the Chosen One 😎

giggyjon - March 29, 2016 Reply

Jose is a done deal anyway. Why are we still thinking this is in question? If rumours are to be believed then the spending has already started with Sanches from Benfica.

Sean - March 29, 2016 Reply

But you’re making no argument here at all. Other than the fact that Giggs has been assistant manager you’re saying nothing that we haven’t read or seen for ourselves on TV and in the papers. Besides, why should anyone value your opinion over Bryan Robson’s, who’s been at the club even longer than Ferguson? Not to mention all the other players. What motive have they in backing Giggs other than the good of the club? Why would anyone in his right mind take your word over theirs? Unless you’ve been employed by the club yourself in a comparable capacity and know Giggs better than them. . . ?

Adam Joseph - March 30, 2016 Reply

come talk to me on twitter pal @adamjosephsport

David Shankland - March 29, 2016 Reply

@AdamJosephSport massively part of problem. Look at how passive he was when not dealing with the issue in that Salford doc.

CoolAnimal - March 30, 2016 Reply

@AdamJosephSport : Totally agree..Gigs has been busy behind the scenes getting his stogies to do the bitching!

Dazza2501 - March 30, 2016 Reply

Whilst Giggs would be the romantic choice to replace LVG, odds dictate he won’t be a success. Like many others I question his role in two flawed regimes. In addition there is more than a whiff of him playing politics, and doing the loyal assistant bit, publicly staying silent on the performance of the team/ criticism of van Gaal, yet has former team mates championing his cause in the media. The fact remains he has no pedigree or experience to take over despite Scholes stating LVG was evidence experience doesn’t always work. The fact remains that The United job is as big and demanding as it gets. There appears only three choices left, of either Giggs LVG or Pochetino, given the clubs lack of planning , having failed to get near Guardiola or Ancelotti. We can only speculate, but if support for Jose was unanimous he’d surely be announced or in post by now, which leads me to suspect the club really want Pochetino. He builds teams, plays good football, develops existing players and promotes youth. The only box he doesn’t yet tick is proven winner. If he succeeds in the tough task of winning Spurs the title, Jose may find he misses out again.

Bai Ahmad - March 30, 2016 Reply

We want Jose! We need Jose!!!!!……Giggs Not Yet!….Giggs go coach other smaller club 1st like Gary……

Denton Davey - March 30, 2016 Reply

Didn’t work out very well for RedNev, eh ?

Julian - March 30, 2016 Reply

The club are hoping, almost desperately, that LvG remains until the end of next season and then Giggs takes over a settled team. This is plan A and it is still in place – just about. They’ve taken some insurance out in case it doesn’t – ie that LvG fails in the quest for ECL qualification and that United does not win the FAC. If he achieves either of those two then he stays and Mourinho goes elsewhere with United forking out a premium of 15m for the insurance. If LvG doesn’t achieve either then its a straight choice between JM and Giggs for next season. Fergie and his class of 92 legacy will want Giggs to step in but clearly the club will not want him to take over what is still a team in transition requiring yet more re-building. The idea was for Giggs to take over a fully re-built and successful team which it isn’t at the moment and is unlikely to be at the end of the season. Hence the Mourinho alternative. The succession strategy is quite clear, I think.

D07 - March 30, 2016 Reply

Amazed why people think Giggs’ is cleaner option than Mourinho. Mourinho didn’t sleep with his sister in law.

D07 - March 30, 2016 Reply

to say Giggs represents the clubs values would be a little far fetched. Yes he knows the club,but he’s no saint

Henry - March 30, 2016 Reply

his plan since Moyes.Can’t give him job without proving himself.Has 0 coaching background & he is not loyal

Julian - March 30, 2016 Reply

The latest news appears to be that the Dutch FA want LvG as their technical director in the summer. This would allow the United manager to leave with a large degree of dignity intact – as opposed to being fired. It also leaves the way open for Mourinho to come in and continue – or restart, depending on your viewpoint – the re-building programme. Fergie, Charlton and the class of 92 may have other ideas and would want to bypass Mourinho and see their man installed instead. However, thrusting the untried Giggs into a position where the team is far from re-constructed and with Pep at City no doubt providing considerable competition if not the start of total domination, it would be a considerable risk asking Giggs to do the job at this juncture. Woodward is going to have to go against the wishes of traditionalists and insist on Mourinho and maybe hope that the latter is prepared to have Giggs as his assistant for the next three years, say. Of course that depends largely on whether Giggs is prepared to wait another three years for the top job let alone what Mourinho’s views are on a possible assistant.

Denton Davey - March 30, 2016 Reply

One has to wonder what conditions will be set for Jo$e’s appointment – will he be expected to continue LvG’s “youth thrust” ? or will he have a free hand ?

Julian - March 30, 2016 Reply

I cant imagine JM being totally dictated to. MInd you LvG was regarding the Giggs plan and had to take him on instead of someone more experienced and better known to him. It may depend on how much Mourinho wants the job and its pretty obvious he does a lot.

Denton Davey - March 30, 2016 Reply

I’m not sure that “expected to continue LvG’s “youth thrust” ” is the same as “being totally dictated to”. Whenever you get a job there are parameters; for a senior job those expectations might be rather loose but I doubt that they would be non-existent nor would I think that Jo$e would have a completely “free hand” to do as he sees fit.

Julian - March 31, 2016

I doubt very much that continuing with a so-called “youth thrust” would really come in to it. The pressure will be on to get results in terms of winning things or at the very least comfortably qualifying for the ECL – specifically the knock out stages. No manager can be expected to wait for youth to develop with these sorts of demands. Mourinho would need to be assured that there is money available to bring in tried and tested players – first and foremost. Promising youngsters such as Rashford will be retained but the focus wont be on them entirely.

Pint vulgar - March 30, 2016 Reply

What does Giggsy or Nicky Butt for that matter have on their fantastic playing cv’s that requires a club of Utds global standard to employ them in such important positions.
Apparently the highly successful Rene Meulesteen is not a friend of LVG’s ( put lightly) hence the club not reemploying him .Drinkwater the latest Rene prodigy to hit the headlines ( a whole host of others ) surely Mourinho would call Rene on his first day,that would single handed take care of the academy.
It does seem strange regarding the 5 and 15 m compensation packages ,I know Utd are champions at wasting dosh ( Bebe 7 m and Cleverley let go for nothing) but if its true ,it does point to the idea that they are still not tottally commited .Which is astonishing under th present circumstances.
Even Fergie had to cut his cloth at the bottom,Giggs does not portray a top quality manager when he sits in front of the media.
I would definately forget an unlikely FA cup traophy or a top 4 slot if it means the otherwise likeable clown LVG continues into next season.
Mourinho the best manager since Fergie ( inc Pep) must not be overlooked again.

Fusilli Jerry - March 30, 2016 Reply

If true that Ferguson is backing Giggs, that should be seen in the context of the Glaswegian’s previous picks for his successor: Moyes obviously, but originally, Steve McClaren.

And as others here have alluded, the plan was for Giggs to learn at the right hand of Moyes – who’d be successfully in place for at least 6 years. When that didn’t pan out, the idea became for Giggs to learn at the right hand of the stabilising, serial winning, Van Gaal. The plan wasn’t for Giggs to inherit and fix a broken club whilst overtaking Guardiola’s City and all the rest.

United giving the job to Giggs, either this summer or after a third season of Van Gaal, would be the equivalent of the Labour Party making Corbyn its leader, not Andy Turnham or Liz Kendall, in the traumatising aftermath of 2015’s general election producing an overall majority for the Conservatives. “We can’t win, we won’t win: let’s at least be ideologically pure.”

If that makes Mourinho United’s equivalent of Tony Blair, consider the Iraq War man’s election record:
Played 3 W3 D0 L0

Sam - April 1, 2016 Reply

I doubt that Giggs would have waited for 6 years of Moyes.

Lets say Moyes worked out well enough. Giggs would be angling for the top job by Moyes 4th season, maybe even a bit earlier. To wait 6 years means Giggs would still have another 4 years to go, before he’d be in his first season. No way he waits that long in this hypothetical scenario.

Adam Joseph - April 1, 2016 Reply

yes but Giggs has had a taste already. that changed things.

Craig Millar - April 1, 2016 Reply

Article is ok, but don’t agree with you on this one Adam!

Julian - April 1, 2016 Reply

When Moyes was appointed Giggs was a player-coach with probably little expectation of taking over from Moyes in the forseeable future. Moyes had Steve Round as his deputy. It was only when Moyes and his cohorts were sacked that the idea of Giggs becoming the manager first surfaced when he was appointed interim manager. The club then insisted that he became LvG’s assistant. It’s a pity they hadn’t insisted on Fergie’s back up, Meulensteen and Phelan, staying on when Moyes brought in his bunch of non entities.

Bigjoe 61 - June 2, 2016 Reply

Forty odd years ago United sacked Tommy Doherty for having an affair with the physio’ s wife, a woman he subsequently married. Giggs is hardly a role model for any aspiring young footballer or indeed for any supporter with his tawdry private life of serial adultery, betraying his brother, hushed up abortions and failed superinjunctions. ( Ditto John Terry another sleazeball at Chelsea.) Giggs is totally lacking in a moral compass and would be the worst possible choice for anyone’s role model. Great footballer though he was, he was never world class and I hope he never gets a sniff at the United job. Mourinho would be remiss if he appointed someone who would undermine him at the earliest opportunity. He didn’t exactly fall on his sword for Van Gaal or Moyes when they were sacked. Whatever happened to decency and standards in professional football? It used to be there.

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