BBC Sport
BBC Home
Explore the BBC
| Help

Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 12:32 GMT
Giggs: Good enough for greatness?
By Tom Fordyce

Ryan Giggs sets off on a dribble
Premiership: 1993, '94, '96, '97, '99, 2000, 2001, 2003
FA Cup: 1994, '96, '99
League Cup: 1992
Champions League: 1999

On 29 November, Ryan Giggs celebrates his 30th birthday.

Now, more than 12 years after making his Manchester United debut, Giggs is the most decorated player in the club's history.

But, as he enters his fourth decade, has he fulfilled his potential?

A crazy question, on the face of it.

This is a man who has won eight league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and the holy grail of the Champions League.

It is a haul that only the stalwarts of the Liverpool side of the late 1970s and early 1980s can match.

Yet the perception exists that Giggs as an individual player, rather than Giggs the United man, has never truly evolved into the superlative talent his early displays promised.

Is this impression justified? Certainly the level of attention that Giggs receives has fallen away since the heady days of the mid-1990s, his position as the glamour boy of Old Trafford usurped by David Beckham.

To the casual observer, there are less of those coruscating runs of old, fewer defenders left trailing in the wake of a player who once sizzled through defences like a firework through the autumn air.

Then again, which of us are the same at 30 as we were at 17? The Giggs of today, say his admirers, is a far more complete player than the raw teenager who exploded into the United first team back in 1991.

Premiership defenders are not stupid and a young player does not stay an unknown quantity for long

Giggs would have been finished had he not attempted to develop his game beyond beating a full-back on the outside.

Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs
Ferguson and Giggs have stuck by each other

Just ask Lee Sharpe, Giggs' predecessor on the United left, whose star burned brightly at the start of his twenties yet who failed to add enough to his game to prolong his top flight career past his 27th birthday.

Giggs has become more than just a winger. He can now play down the middle, where his turn of pace and ability on the ball make him far harder to mark than out wide where a defender and wide midfielder can narrow him down.

There is even an argument - and one which a certain A. Ferguson is rumoured to agree with - that Giggs is more effective in the middle that the now-departed Beckham.

While both players have quick minds and a good range of passing, only Giggs can beat a man with a change of pace and dribbling skills.

Injuries have taken their toll, less in damaging Giggs' game than in causing him to miss large chunks of previous seasons.

A nagging problem like Giggs' hamstring complaint, which until the last 12 months kept him from putting together long unbroken spells in the United team, is more disruptive to a player than one might imagine.

Maybe the final word should go to Ferguson. This is a manager who has shown, time and time again, that he has no problem selling United heroes if he feels they can add no more to his side.

Andrei Kanchelskis, Paul Ince and Beckham were all flogged when most United fans felt they were at their peak. They were also all sold way before their 30th birthdays.

Yet Ferguson continues to stick by Giggs, the player he signed to apprentice terms on his 14th birthday by going round in person to his mother's house.

Giggs is the one constant in Ferguson's title-winning sides. No other player has been there from the first championship in 1993 to the latest in 2003.

Who can say that he won't still be there on his 35th birthday?

ALSO IN THIS SECTION Ferguson keen to avoid Euro error
Neville riled by England failures
Man City taught a lesson - Rooney
City must develop youth - Cantona

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs | Headlines for your site


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport