Twenty years ago, almost to the day, Ryan Giggs was helping Manchester United’s youth side into the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup. As the current youth crop beat their Swansea counterparts 5-1 on Thursday night, Giggs, alongside that other doyen of the United squad, Paul Scholes, is almost incredibly preparing to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend. One, if not both, will surely line up alongside Michael Carrick in United’s midfield.
If twenty years at the very top is not enough, the legendary pair is each likely to sign new contracts with the club before the season concludes, taking Scholes and Giggs to the end of the 2013 season. If careers both that long and laden with trophies cannot inspire United’s new breed of youngsters, who are now through to the FA Youth Cup quarter-final after a crushing win at the Liberty Stadium, then surely nothing will.
Paul McGuiness’ new intake, many of who are even younger than 2011’s cup winning outfit, stormed through the fifth round after a convincing win over the Welsh. Goals from Jack Barmby, Gyliano van Velzen, Tyler Blackett and Sam Byrne were enough to send the youth through to a meeting with Tottenham Hotspur or Charlton Athletic in the next round.
It was a generation ago, perhaps, but to those who remember the cup winning 1992 side, with Giggs floating so gracefully on the wing, or the outfit a year later, with Scholes flitting around in attack, two trophy filled decades have flown rapidly by. Tears will flow when the pair leaves Carrington, in a playing capacity at least, for the final time.
Yet, it is a show that shows no signs of an upcoming curtain call. Scholes may have retired once, but judging by his outstanding performances against both Liverpool and Stoke City this week, the flame-haired midfielder is in no mood to do so again. Meanwhile, Giggs will certainly be offered a new deal before the season ends.
“We’ll sit down pretty soon and see what we want to do but, at the moment, I feel good and I want to carry on,” admitted Giggs, who turns 39 this year.
“I feel like I’m still an influence on and off the pitch so I’ll carry on. When that changes, then that’s when I’ll want to stop.”
It is the same argument Scholes made when hanging up his boots last May, only to realise that not only is the veteran still better than most, but he can still have significant influence at the top level. Indeed, Scholes, who could pass 700 games in all competitions for the club before the season is out, managed to out-pass and think his opponents with such ease this week that it barely feels 20 years since the ginger Mancunian burst onto the scene.
“I thought he’d retired too early – a lot of people did,” says Giggs of his long-time team-mate.
“Scholesy probably thought he’d made up his mind and when you’ve done that, you can’t really change it. But he was still the best in training with the reserves, so he obviously felt he could still do it. Nobody was going to disagree with that and it was a massive boost when we found out he was coming back before the Manchester City game.”
Neither man holds on to the mobility of youth, but experience, as the cliché goes, replaces so much of the physical deterioration. On Saturday in Liverpool Scholes rarely wandered far from the safety of the centre-circle, but was able to dictate play and tempo so successfully that Anfield received a palpable boost when Ferguson hauled the 36-year-old off.
Meanwhile, Giggs can no longer “bomb up and down that bloody wing,” as Ferguson once put it, but the Welshman’s ability to play his part in central midfield still ensures that the 22 season veteran has a crucial role in the United squad. The now former winger is likely to come back into the United side for the trip to Chelsea, adding another digit to the 897 appearances the Welshman has achieved for the club to date. Sir Alex is unlikely to allow the winger to retire even if he wanted to.
And with United having achieved such poor results at Stamford Bridge over the past decade – European fixtures aside – the Welshman’s experience could be vital this Sunday.
“We have shown reasonable form and if we can get good results in those kinds of games, confidence will be sky high,” Giggs told Inside United, with United preparing to face Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs in coming weeks.
“We know that it’s a tough run, but those are the games you want to be playing in. We are not quite at the make-or-break part of the season, but it is an important time, and we know that if we win those games, then we’ll be in good shape and good form going into the run-in. We know what’s ahead of us and what we have to do.”
That know-how is exactly why there will be little surprise if Giggs and Scholes both play a major role in the coming weeks, with Ferguson always likely to call on experience as the season runs into its dénouement.
“There has been no discernable deterioration in his play whatsoever and, in that sense, why shouldn’t he stay on another year?” admitted Sir Alex of Giggs’ future. “Obviously, it’s entirely up to Ryan himself but I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue.”
What better role models could there be for the kids storming to victory in Wales on Thursday night.
12 thoughts on “Legendary pair offer inspiration for youthful future”
On one hand, it’s great that Giggs and Scholes want to stay on for another season, on the other, will it serve to fuel our frustration just before the first game of next season, when we realise once more that no midfielders will be signed for yet another season.
They were brilliant for us, but we have to move on.
Not really. Look beyond the numbers for once. For that’s what age really is, mere numbers. Did Scholes look out of place at Arsenal and Liverpool or even against the extremely physical Stoke? No.
Has Giggs been outpaced, muscled, skilled by younger midfielders or full backs in recent seasons? No.
Then why should we make the same mistakes Arsenal made and get rid of these talented legends while their successors are still not done taking shape?
As for midfield signings, this debate has raged on far too long, and I won’t be surprised if the majority of us look back in 10 years time and wonder what all the fuss was about.
Apart from Giggsy and Scholesy, we have the immensely in-form Carrick who has shown time and again he can play both the offensive and defensive roles in midfield to near perfection. Anderson and Cleverley were almost on a Xavi-Iniesta level of understanding when they played together, so in synch was their movement across the pitch. Then we have young Jones who seems, with each passing day, that he is more destined to be a marauding box to box, kind of like a Darren Fletcher on steroids, than the CB that Fergie wants him to be.
And to top it all of, we saw Pogba make his much awaited debut last night, and goodness knows I want him to put his head down and be at United for as long as possible, than get his head turned by money. Hopefully he will look to someone like Valencia as a role model, someone who just dumped his agent because he feels he can’t do any better than United for any of his footballing ambitions. Name the trophy, and United are capable of winning it.
Also Tunnicliffe is having a blinder in the championship. Doesn’t mean much right now, when you cast your mind back to Frazier Campbell, but if Fergie manages to find him a premier league home like he did for Cleverley, then in a season or twos time we will have another midfielder to add to our squad.
That brings the count to 6 for now, and rising. And I always dream of seeing Fletcherinho in a red shirt again, but I am not going to talk about that yet in fear of jinxing it!
Don’t keep it to yourself: can I have some of the drug that you appear to be on?
Oh my bad!
We are skint!
Our players are shit!
Taggart has lost his marbles!
We are a sinking ship!
City will piss all over us now!
We are over.
Go and support Chelsea, why don’t you.
LOL! It’s nice to see some optimism around here.
Mind you, I think we are still one good experienced (but not decrepit!) central midfielder short.
Also, as good as it is to have Giggs and Scholes around for another year, every game they play is one less for Pogba, who looks like he can hold his own even now.
What a brilliant post. I can learn from that lad.
Spot on. Carrick has been excellent but I’m definitely excited at the prospect of seeing Clev and Ando together again. Young back too, Welbeck in great form. We can play the team that swept everyone aside in August / September. But with Valencia on the right – the BEAST that he is.
I can see Scholes playing in the Euros, especially now that poor little Jack Wilshere is fucked
And I can see him getting a new contract next season, like Knobby said
he’s been excellent tbf
always disappointed to see young in the team, suppose he’s better than park, or is he
wasnt that long ago you were wanking over him knobby….good player. easily better than park