The transfer window closed without Manchester United getting so much as an Alan Smith on-loan never mind a Wesley Sneijder, so the quest for the 20th league title and thus denying City what will otherwise surely be their trophy, rests with the current, much-maligned midfield collection.
Before his injury, multi-instrumentalist Phil Jones was doing a job in there, partly because United were already short due to Fletchers absence. Michael Carrick’s been playing well in a ‘Michael Carrick’ kind of way, often supplemented by Ji-Sung Park who runs around. Ashley Young is often described as a player who can ‘do a job’. Someone should find out what that job is because at the moment it doesn’t look like it’s ‘playing for Manchester United’. The one ‘new’ addition to the squad, Paul Scholes is obviously loved but he told everyone in his book that he knew he was finished twelve months ago. 'Raphabio' has been given a go but I’m assuming Ferguson was just messing about. That really only leaves Paul Pogba who Ferguson seems not to trust, Anderson, who is rubbish, and Tom ‘TC23 -The Brand’ Cleverly who has been ‘out-for-two-weeks’ for four months now and may or may not be fantastic.
Of course the one player I haven’t mentioned is the one that Manchester United are still relying on most in the midfield, Ryan Giggs. He’s started 4 of the last 6 games, tellingly the games against City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea so it’s safe to say that he’s still first choice. Thirty-eight years old yet still one of the premier performers at the top of the British game, Giggs is a freak of nature. Clearly still tremendously fit, he has maintained a level of performance at an age way beyond any contemporary. Managing such a high-level of fitness has been crucial to Giggs’s longevity and his commitment to training and his long-running faith in alternative fitness regimes has been well documented. He also does a lot of yoga.
Giggs is a better footballer now than he’s ever been. His experience has given him an understanding of his game and his body like never before. He might not be as effective a player in terms of goals and assists (though his cross for Chico’s goal against Chelsea shows its still there) but his technique and nous are second to none and his positional play is beautiful.
I’d thought that each season would be the last and feared the day when even yoga can’t halt times arrow, but Ryan just keeps on going.
He’s at a stage now where the game can’t surprise him. He knows all the variables, has a memory-bank full of every experience there is to be had on a football pitch and plays without fear. He plays the game like he’s playing in a Masters tournament. When a pass does go astray it’s because he’s trying too clever a pass and/or because he’s clever enough to know where it’s ok to lose the ball. His control and manipulation of a football is exemplary.
His career has been the most successful of any domestic player in the history of the game with his record of 32 major trophy wins containing an astonishing 12 league titles. The next few weeks should see him pass the milestone of 900 appearances for Manchester United and still he shows no sign of calling time on his remarkable career. With a new contract ready to be signed for yet another season and ‘Glazernomics’ continuing to blight the search for replacements, he could conceivably still be turning out for United when he turns forty.
To see Giggs now is to witness a man utterly in control of his own destiny on a football pitch. He’s not the player he was, he couldn’t be, and the old Giggs may have been more effective than the mature version but to watch a footballer so secure and confident in his ability is wonderful. He’s no-longer one of the most devastating performers in the premier league, he’s certainly not going to score the most goals and doesn’t often fly up the wing and whip a cross over like he did but that’s not the point. The point is nobody can play the game of football better than him and he remains a joy to behold.
For the last three years I’ve savoured Giggsy's perfomances and wallowed in the seemingly eternal Indian summer of one of European footballs true all-time greats. I’d thought that each season would be the last and feared the day when even yoga can’t halt times arrow, but Ryan just keeps on going. We’re lucky to have a player such as him in our time as fans watching the game. He’s a true footballing great, a legend worthy of the title. Maybe there are more chapters to be written in the Giggsy story and he’ll play on and on and on. As Natasha Giggs so elegantly and accurately put it “Ryan just keeps going and going and going”. And she knows a player when she sees one.
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