Ryan Giggs: City need Champions League to build success

United veteran says fourth place is critical if Mancini is to attract leading players
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It will take much more than money alone to turn City into the best club in Manchester let alone the Premier League, believes Ryan Giggs. Nearly two decades after his first appearance in the derby, United's evergreen winger has claimed that if Roberto Mancini's side do not qualify for the Champions League this season they will struggle to attract players of true quality to Eastlands over the summer no matter how much they are prepared to spend.

Throughout Giggs' time at Old Trafford, United – give or take the odd defeat – have enjoyed the upper hand, but tomorrow they will have to face a revitalised, free-scoring City side in a game they have to win to have any chance of claiming a fourth successive title. City too have plenty to play for. They currently lie fourth, a point ahead of Tottenham with five games to play – the all-important Champions League place is within their grasp for the first time ever. Rarely can a Manchester derby have carried such weight at the business end of the table, and with City's burgeoning ambitions the importance of the fixture is only going to increase.

"You've got to say yes, with the money that they've got at their disposal and the fact they've shown they're ready to pay for good players," Giggs told Sport magazine. "Whether or not the world-class players will come will be determined by whether they get into the Champions League. If they don't, they might struggle to do that.

"Money can buy you success, but for long-term success you need a lot more. We've broken the transfer record quite a few times, Blackburn did it with [Alan] Shearer and won the league, and Chelsea spent big when [Roman] Abramovich arrived – but you need young players, continuity and a lot more to sustain that success."

Giggs spent two years at City's School of Excellence in the mid-80s before joining United where he became the trailblazer for a succession of stellar names who emerged from The Cliff training ground to provide the backbone of Sir Alex Ferguson's title winning teams over the last two decades. He made his first start for United against City in 1991 – scoring the only goal – and tomorrow will be his 33rd derby.

This season has not proved a vintage one for the 36-year-old, certainly compared to the previous campaign which ended with him being named as Player of the Year. Wayne Rooney carries United's hopes in that direction this time around – he has been named on the shortlist for both Player and Young Player along with Cesc Fabregas – but of more pressing concern to United (and City) is his fitness.

Rooney missed Sunday's goalless draw at Blackburn having aggravated his ankle injury in the Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich, but has been training this week and is expected to play some part in the game.

United's reliance on him was underlined on Sunday as they struggled to breach the Rovers' defence. With 26 goals in 29 league games he has been in the form of his life. "He's scoring important goals, which all great players at United have done – like Mark Hughes, Eric Cantona, Ronaldo, Bryan Robson and Roy Keane," said Giggs. "They all produced magic when needed, and that's what Wayne's been doing. Along with Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, he's one of the world's top three players."

United go into tomorrow's lunchtime encounter four points behind Chelsea, who play Tottenham in the evening kick-off. Both have four games to play. "The pressure to win things is huge. The expectation is there. It's been a bad 10 days or so for us – results haven't gone our way and neither has the luck, and you need both of those things in your favour at this time of the season," said Giggs. "We've just got to bounce back from the disappointment of the last couple of weeks and we're definitely not going to give up. We're going to keep fighting on."

Ryan Giggs interview is reproduced courtesy of Sport Magazine

Awesome foursome: PFA award shortlist

Tomorrow's Manchester derby will not be the last time rival strikers Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez face off against each other this season, with both yesterday named on the shortlist for the PFA's player of the year award. Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas complete the nominations for the award, won by Ryan Giggs last year.

Rooney and Fabregas are also up for the young player award, along with Aston Villa's James Milner and Birmingham's on-loan goalkeeper Joe Hart.