Manchester United 3 Olympiakos 0: 'Freak' Ryan Giggs praised by manager David Moyes, but Gary Neville questions why hasn't he played more?

Moyes lavished praise on the 40-year-old midfielder for 'defying his age' as the Welshman shone against Olympiakos, but Neville can't explain why he has played just 81 minutes in 10 weeks

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Ryan Giggs has been labelled a “freak” by Manchester United manager David Moyes following his standout return to the starting XI in the 3-0 Champions League victory over Olympiakos that the club progress to the quarter-finals.

The 40-year-old was in inspirational form on his first start since the end of January, controlling the United midfield and providing the platform from which the side could attack from. Needing to overturn a 2-0 deficit suffered on their trip to Athens last month, Robin van Persie fired a hat-trick to ensure progression to the last-eight, although both Giggs and David de Gea also put in impressive showings at Old Trafford.

Giggs laid on two goals for the Dutch striker, and having featured for just 81 minutes across the past 10 weeks, Moyes has admitted that he needed the Welshman in what was undoubtedly his best night since taking the reins from Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I thought he is 40 years old and I need to be looking to the future,” Moyes revealed when questioned why he had left out the player/coach in recent weeks. “I have been trying to give everyone opportunities. Ryan is not going to go on forever so we have to find the new Ryan Giggs and use other players but we needed his experience tonight.


“Tactically, I needed him to carry out a certain role, which he knew and did perfectly, as well as his role in the goals. His two passes made two of the goals. His passing was fantastic and his all-round play was very good.

“He defies his age, he is a great player. Everyone who has been at Manchester United knows he is a great player. It’s incredible the amount of games he’s played in the Champions League [140]. He was fantastic, the passes he made, his general football, and his fitness. Normally you think with a player like that you need to bring them off at 60 minutes but not him. He’s a freak.”

However, despite enjoying success in what was a must-win fixture, Moyes was criticised by Sky Sports pundit and former United defender Gary Neville, who questioned why Giggs hadn’t been selected when the Red Devils has clearly suffered a lack of forward passing in the heart of the midfield.

“I don't know why [Moyes] hasn't played [Giggs],” Neville said on Sky Sports. “It's strange he hasn't played him for two or three months.

“He usually played every two or three weeks in the last few years. He usually gets his games hand-picked for him. That's not happening in the last 12 weeks. Moyes has looked at the younger ones.

“[Against Olympiakos] he's needed big performances and he got them from Giggs, de Gea and [Danny] Welbeck.”

Despite the victory coming at a time when Moyes – and the club – were desperate for a victory, the 50-year-old was keen to avoid describing the result as a “watershed” moment, having seen previous victories labelled as such earlier in the season.

“We hadn’t played well in the first leg but we put it right tonight,” Moyes continued. “It was only another game, an important one, but I wouldn’t use the word you used [watershed], that’s for sure. People will probably think it’s a turning point in people’s careers but I didn’t see it like that because the club don’t see it like that. I see myself here for a long time.”

Moyes went on to speak on his own future, which he insists he is not concerned about despite growing pressure for him to be replaced following the comprehensive 3-0 defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool last weekend.

“I’m not feeling any pressure from inside the club, it’s coming from you people [the media],” he claimed. “We know the job we have to do and it’s probably bigger than what I thought when I first came to the club. But after Sunday’s performance and result we needed to bounce back and I thought we did it with style, played very well and deservedly got our victory.

“I have said before that results could take us on and sometimes it has not gone the way we wanted, so I don’t want to come out here and say this is the moment. But at the same time, I really hope it is. We know it is a work in progress and it is going to take time to get things the way we want it. The result means we have got ourselves another two games in the Champions League, something we will really look forward to.”