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

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.

Read more: Moyes buoyed by RVP hat-trick
Who might sign for United this summer?
Moyes praises 'freak' Giggs
Moyes hopes RVP is 'not too bad'

“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.”

Read more: Unconvincing victory fails to hide lack of quality
Five things we learnt at Old Trafford
Manchester United player ratings

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.”

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little