Outside the Box: It was 20 years ago today, Ryan Giggs taught them how to play

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The Independent Online

Twenty years ago, Manchester United sent on a young winger formerly known as Ryan Wilson for his first-team debut as a substitute at home to Everton. They lost 2-0 but things improved, and a remarkable two decades of life at the top are completed shortly after the modest Welshman was named by supporters as United's greatest ever player.

Naturally such polls tend to have a bias towards the present over the past – many would be horrified that Duncan Edwards and Denis Law were squeezed out of the top 10 by a combination of Wayne Rooney, Peter Schmeichel, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo – though Giggs's own choice was Paul Scholes. In sticking to those he had actually played with, Giggs nominated Scholes, Roy Keane and Schmeichel in order as his top three.

In the new issue of Inside United magazine, he says of his mate and contemporary Scholes: "I've seen him do things that no other player can do. The way he can control the tempo of games, and his range of passing, are both incredible."

Of that debut, as a substitute for Denis Irwin, he recalls very little. However, the game soon afterwards against Manchester City, the club he used to train with, has stuck in the mind because he did not actually get a touch to the goal that has gone down in the record books as his first in senior football.

"I'm telling everyone it's your goal, so you'd better do the same," Sir Alex Ferguson told him in the dressing-room. Twenty years on, he still knows better than to argue with the manager.

We have the technology

English football may lack influence in the corridors of Fifa and Uefa but the home countries retain an anachronistic amount of power on the International Football Association Board, who decide the laws of the game.

The English, Scottish, Welsh and (Northern) Irish FAs have a vote each on the eight-man board (Fifa have the other four) and as a three-quarter majority is needed for any change, the Brits can block anything they do not like. It can only be hoped that they have been convinced by the recent experiments in goalline technology, which they must vote on at the IFAB's annual meeting in Newport next Saturday.

Fifa, who have repeatedly buried their heads in the sand on the issue, are insisting that technology can only be used to decide whether a goal has been scored or not. A decision must then be confirmed within one second and communicated to the match officials.

The authorities have so far tended to prefer using extra referees' assistants, who seem to spend most of their time standing around looking cold; their role will also be debated this week.

Everton-Reading's a turn-off

There must have been mixed feelings at ESPN when Chelsea went out of the FA Cup to Everton last weekend. The penalty shoot-out gave them a dramatic climax to their live coverage but meant that, on Tuesday, rivals Sky Sports will be able to show Chelsea's key League game against Manchester United on the same night that ESPN are left with Everton's rather less enticing fifth-round tie at home to Reading.

No prizes for guessing which draws the bigger audience.

Bluenose fans stay Right On

One thing Birmingham City have over today's Wembley opponents Arsenal is a proper supporters' song.

"Good Old Arsenal", to the tune of "Rule Britannia", was written before the 1971 FA Cup final by the ubiquitous Jimmy Hill when he was a presenter on London Weekend Television, but it appears to have been superseded recently by the equally unconvincing Elvis Presley hit "The Wonder of You".

The Blues, however, have stuck with the rousing "Keep Right On To The End Of The Road" ever since reaching the 1956 FA Cup final. Now their supporters are being urged to get Sir Harry Lauder's original 1920s version into this week's UK chart by downloading it.

Wrexham back with a bang

Comeback of the week had to be by Dean Saunders' Wrexham, who last Saturday had suffered the worst home defeat in their history when beaten 7-2 by Gateshead in the Blue Square Premier.

"The back four and the keeper weren't at their best," Saunders said with what sounded suspiciously like understatement. For Tuesday night's visit to league leaders AFC Wimbledon, he made a couple of changes in defence, bringing back the 39-year-old Frank Sinclair, and the result was a stunning 1-0 victory.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; www.twitter.com/@stevetongue

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