Football / FA Cup Semi-Final: Switch to higher gear for Giggs

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The Independent Online
FOR AN hour at Wembley yesterday, Ryan Giggs, the most gifted young player of his generation, was peripheral, unable to impose his prodigious talent on a faltering FA Cup semi-final, writes Henry Winter.

The Manchester United player hardly touched the ball in the first half, beyond the odd dead-ball strike. But 15 minutes after the main interval, Alex Ferguson ordered Giggs to switch flanks with Lee Sharpe and the crowd was treated to some of the winger's better moments. 'Ryan likes to get an early touch but didn't today,' the United manager said, 'so we moved him to the right side so he could beat men, which he did. This was a plus.'

In the first half, against the inexperienced Chris Makin, Giggs fared poorly; paradoxically against the veteran Neil Pointon, he threatened to drag United out of one of their most unimaginative spells this season. Combining an impressive turn of speed with his close control, Giggs was able to enter the vast space behind Pointon but the Welshman's final ball often let the side down.

The 20-year-old appeared more keen on assuming responsibility as the match wore on. In the 80th minute, he confused Makin and Rick Holden in a 70- yard dash, curtailed only when Makin sprinted back to foul him. But Giggs sent the 25-yard free-kick harmlessly over.

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