Ryan Giggs unsurprised by Wayne Rooney form
Ryan Giggs is not in the least bit surprised at Wayne Rooney's return to form.
Any lingering doubts about whether Rooney was back to his best after a difficult year were surely dispelled by the 25-year-old's performance in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday night.
Not only did Rooney scored the vital second goal in a two-goal triumph that means Manchester United are virtually certain to claim a place in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28, he delivered a mature performance he has tended to look incapable of in years gone by.
He followed up by admitting he got it wrong - big style - with his much-publicised concerns about Sir Alex Ferguson's current squad, worries which triggered an ill-advised transfer request.
Now Rooney appears to be committed to United for the long haul, which is just as well.
As United's elder statesman, Giggs realises it won't be long before he must hand over the responsibility he has carried for so long to others.
And in Rooney, the veteran Welshman knows they have the right man for the big occasion.
"I am not surprised at what Wayne is doing," said Giggs.
"The top players perform when the trophies are about to be handed out. They produce moments of inspiration when it matters.
"Wayne has done that time and time again over the years, so it was hardly a shock he was superb against Schalke."
Now 37, Giggs can hardly have expected when he celebrated his 32nd birthday that before the end of his career he would win four more Premier League titles and have the chance to lift another three European Cups.
Not only that, his influence remains massive.
Although he might have been guilty of wasting a sizeable proportion of the huge number of chances United created in the Veltins-Arena, it was Giggs' calm finish that brought his side the opening goal in a dominant display.
Ferguson has already earmarked him for an important job in the second leg, meaning Giggs will not be risked from the start against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Nevertheless, it promises to be another titanic tussle, with another one to follow against Chelsea on May 8 as United look to wrap up a record 19th league title, of which Giggs would have played a part in 12.
"This is what you want," he said. "The idea is to be playing big game after big game at this stage of the season because it means you are amongst the big trophies and going for the league.
"In that sense, we have got it exactly right. There are no issues. We have the squad to cope.
"I am sure the manager will make changes on Sunday but I also know the players who come in will be in good form.
"Hopefully we can get as good as a result and put on as good a performance as we did against Schalke."
To most fans, Schalke have already been consigned to history, destined to go the same way as Chelsea, Marseille, Valencia and Rangers, who have all been summarily disposed of by United in the Champions League this season.
United losing at home by three goals is not exactly unheard of. Gary Lineker once managed it with Tottenham and Chelsea have managed it too.
However, combining one of those freak results together with a repeat of Schalke's 5-2 demolition of Inter Milan at the San Siro would seem to be an outrageous demand.
Giggs knows United cannot afford to think that way and is promising there will be no slackening at Old Trafford next Wednesday.
"Obviously we are massive favourites," he said.
"We have scored two away goals and we still have to play them at Old Trafford.
"But we have to be wary. Teams have underestimated Schalke before. We won't be doing that."
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