Ryan Giggs continues to amaze Sir Alex Ferguson

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Sir Alex Ferguson feels the knowledge Ryan Giggs is coming to the end of his illustrious career is providing the platform for the Welshman to remain one of Manchester United's most influential players.

Giggs' goal at Tottenham a fortnight ago took him to the brink of becoming only the ninth United player to reach 150 goals for the club.

In addition, Giggs now stands on 99 Premier League goals, having scored in each season of the competition since its inception in 1992.

However, it was as a creator of chances that Giggs stood out against Manchester City on Sunday.

The Cardiff-born star was majestic in the second half, having been told to stay close to the touchline by Ferguson.

And the sure touch he displayed to provide Michael Owen with the opportunity to score the winner six minutes into stoppage time confirmed Giggs remains at the very top of his game.

In a career that has gleaned 11 Premier League titles alone, Ferguson has never been short of praise for a player who has been the bedrock of so many brilliant Red Devils teams.

And, as Giggs approaches his 36th birthday, Ferguson feels the player is responding.

"The horrible part of being a footballer is that at some stage you are finished with the game," observed Ferguson. "It catches us all.

"When someone like Ryan is playing at the level he is at, he realises to stay there, he has to prepare himself in the right way.

"He has to look after himself and do the right things.

"It is not a matter of him defying his age. It is more a case that there is no discernable deterioration in his game at all. It is remarkable."

Ferguson admitted he could have said much the same two years ago. If it is possible, Giggs is becoming even more influential.

"I don't know what else there is to say about him," said the Scot. "His form is just the same as it was last season.

"He has never carried any weight. He has always been a slim athlete. That helps too. Physique has a lot to do with it."

After sitting out Wednesday night's Carling Cup win over Wolves, Giggs could be called upon to face the robust test Stoke are bound to provide at the Britannia Stadium.

Ferguson felt United's Boxing Day success in the Potteries last term was one of the season's pivotal moments coming, as it did, just days after the Red Devils returned from their successful journey to Japan for the Club World Cup.

The champions have no such worries this time around as they make the short journey down the M6 but the United boss is still wary.

"Stoke are going to be a force," he said.

"They have a fantastic support. They say it is the noisiest in the country and I wouldn't disagree with that.

"Last season was about survival. It is not easy for anyone coming out of the Championship.

"But I saw a marked change there. There is good ambition, they have a good managerial structure and a good chairman.

"It is a club on the up."

Normally so cagey with his team selections, Ferguson has already confirmed Ben Foster will start in goal.

The England international has largely performed to an impressive level since beginning the season as first choice after Edwin van der Sar suffered the broken fingers that will keep him out for another three weeks.

Foster was poor in the derby though. He gifted City their first equaliser by allowing Carlos Tevez to rob him when he had initially been under no pressure, then he seemed to go down far too early and Craig Bellamy tapped home in the final minute of what seemed destined to be a draw until Owen struck.

But Ferguson is eager to display some faith in the former Stoke keeper and insists he never contemplated dropping him.

"Ben will play tomorrow," he said.

"I didn't have any doubts. He has not had a lot of game experience but he will be okay."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before