Manchester United v Bayern Munich: Uneasy truce between Ryan Giggs and David Moyes as Champions League holders roll into town

Alien environment for  Giggs, who is left to talk up United chances

It wasn’t the most convincing piece of football choreography for Manchester United, who are looking to take a sense of harmony befitting the name of their great club into a Champions League quarter-final against the continent’s strongest side, Bayern Munich, on Tuesday night.

David Moyes, the manager, found himself sitting beside Ryan Giggs at the pre-match press conference on Monday and what might have been an opportunity to lay to rest suggestions of a rift between the two over the club’s direction had its uncomfortable moments – not least when Giggs was asked, in an attempted discussion of managerial pressure, whether one day he saw himself taking over in the same capacity. This flank was quickly shut down. “We’re here to talk about the match,” the offending American journalist was told, amid forced laughter.

Giggs has denied a rift yet he was diplomatic, rather than emphatic, on the issue of whether his relationship with Moyes was a good one. Moyes made an unprompted contribution to that discussion – “I go to his yoga classes now, see if that helps me!” he said – just as Giggs was reaffirming that “there’s not been a problem,” so neither observation could be properly heard. Giggs was here by Buggins’ turn, rather than in a premeditated strike against the new regime such as his friend Paul Scholes delivered in a Sky Sports appearance a week ago, yet the fixed smiles did give the whole business the feeling of a strained family get-together.

Read more: Guardiola warns against complacency
United WON'T look to 1999 for inspiration
Kroos 'definitely' staying at Bayern, despite United interest

Though Giggs’ most realistic chance of taking over Moyes’ job would come with an interregnum prompted by the manager’s departure before the summer, Tuesday night provides the chance for Moyes to put any notion of a “Class of ’92” putsch into the background.  Another battering – an outcome which is distinctly possible – would provoke new questions about whether Moyes can take United forward and the size of the task is multiplied by the probable absence of the suspended Patrice Evra and of Rafael da Silva, who did not train on Monday owing to a thigh strain.

The Moyes speech bubble on the cover of this month’s Red Issue fanzine could not have put the task facing United better. Headline: “United draw Bayern.” Moyes: “And we’ve got Buttner at left-back.”

Bayern’s Franck Ribéry drew the foul that led to Rafael’s fateful dismissal in the 2010 quarter-final between the sides but he and Arjen Robben can damage this United defence, featuring Alex Buttner, exponentially more.

Manchester United manager David Moyes trains alongside Ryan Giggs Manchester United manager David Moyes trains alongside Ryan Giggs  

The mood among the Germans already decamping in Manchester was one of self-confidence bordering on swagger on Monday night. “Will Bayern score seven, eight or nine?” one TV crew asked British journalists. This was an alien environment for Giggs, sitting down to discuss an event at which his club have been written off by next to everyone. At the very least you imagined United would hold a reputation for indefatigability among the Germans, because of what Giggs and Co achieved against them in the 1999 final. Where Ferguson’s statesmanlike appearance at a quarter-final stage like this would have produced a visiting press corps wanting to tackle the man who famously blamed “typical Germans” for that quarter-final elimination in 2010, the only questions yesterday came from the English. And 1999? Well, that seemed a very long time ago.

“Some of the lads probably don’t remember it,” Giggs reflected. No, it would not be used as a motivating factor.

Read more: Uneasy truce at Old Trafford between Giggs and Moyes
United v Bayern - match preview
Bayern are 'beatable' says Rafael

Giggs talked in the Manchester United way, which is a way still less natural to the more cautious Moyes. “We don’t see ourselves as underdogs. We see ourselves as Manchester United playing at home. We will go out to win the game,” the player-coach insisted. “We are confident. We are looking forward to it.”

But if Moyes is planning to dispense with his characteristic caution, launching on to the front foot in a way which proves that United can play and think like the champions they once were, then he has done a good job of disguising it. To the notion of an attacking strategy, enabling his players to take a lead to the Allianz Arena next week, he observed that “in the first leg there is always a bit of cautiousness. We have to make sure the two legs are important.”.

 One of the decisions for Moyes is whether Shinji Kagawa will be used after his strong performance against Aston Villa on Saturday. The ever enthusiasic Japanese media fraternity pressed his case yesterday, reminding Moyes that Kagawa’s record for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern had been four wins in four games. “He’s in our thoughts. We like him a lot,” Moyes told them.

Giggs, after his display in the win over Olympiakos which delivered United here, will eye a chance too. He did not deny that he would like to have played more in a season when he has made six Premier League starts, only one more than in Europe. “As a player you want to play all the time,” he said. “I normally play every two or three weeks to probably get the best out of me. The last game was probably the first time in six or seven weeks.”

He skirted around the criticism of the team’s set-up from former United team-mates Scholes and Gary Neville. “Being criticised comes with the territory as a Manchester United player,” Giggs said. “You lose a game. You get criticised.”

On his own playing future beyond this season he was noncomittal, though this certainly feels like the end. “I don’t know,” he said to the notion that this might be his last European campaign. “I’ll tell you after tomorrow maybe! I am just trying to enjoy this season, really, and then at the end I will take stock.”

For Giggs, more than anyone tonight, there is motivation for one of those defiant United performances of old – because after all these years it wasn’t supposed to end in a whimper like this.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker