Giggs: City not a threat - yet

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The Independent Football

Ryan Giggs doubts whether he will be around to view Manchester City as serious rivals to United's dominance of the English game.

With money apparently no object to the wealthy Abu Dhabi tycoons bankrolling the Eastlands outfit, many feel it is only a matter of time before City emerge as one of the Premier League's major forces.

The British record £32.5m purchase of Robinho on transfer deadline day sent out a significant statement of intent and big-name stars continue to be linked with City as the January window approaches.

World footballer of the year Kaka has already been mentioned, while Blackburn forward Roque Santa Cruz seems like a more realistic target, along with Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra.

The cash has not triggered a change in fortunes on the pitch, though.

While last night's Uefa Cup win over Schalke ensures City will reach the last 32 of Europe's secondary club competition, the Eastlands outfit were bundled out of the Carling Cup by lowly Brighton and head into Sunday's showdown with the Red Devils anchored in the bottom half of the table only three points clear of the drop zone.

"With the money they are talking about, you think about City bringing in the best players in the world," reflected Giggs.

"But I don't know whether the rivalry will develop into one between sides who win the biggest trophies because those players still need to gel.

"I know Chelsea did it but they were already a top-three team. City are not top six really.

"If they are going to challenge the big four I would imagine it will take a bit of time."

As he celebrates his 35th birthday tomorrow, the time Giggs is talking about will, in all probability, take him to retirement.

What City might achieve before the former Wales skipper decides to call it a day is generate more than a passing interest within the United camp about the players they are bringing in.

Like most observers, Giggs was surprised when Robinho ended up at Eastlands. But it will take a bit more than one player to make a man with 10 Premier League titles and two European Cups to his name gasp in amazement.

"With one player you don't take that much notice. Even though Robinho is a class act he is still just a player," remarked the Cardiff-born star.

"Obviously, it will be interesting next summer when they are maybe bringing in seven or eight. Depending on who they are, you might notice it a little bit more."

Giggs admitted he still feels the same way about derby day as he did as a kid growing up in Manchester.

Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea may offer a more obvious and formidable threat but bragging rights over City have always held a special place in his heart.

As a veteran of 27 such matches, scoring his first senior goal against the Blues as a 17-year-old back in 1991 - even though he accepts he never actually touched the ball - Giggs has made a greater contribution to encounters with City than anyone else.

However, he is aware the damage he might do this weekend will be from central midfield rather than the left-wing berth from which he has terrorised the Sky Blues so often down the years.

"I have not been an out-and-out winger for the last three or four years," he said.

"I enjoy playing in midfield. You are more involved and you get to see a lot more of the ball.

"It is certainly not alien to me and maybe the ability to move around is one of the things that has kept me playing for so long."

With Ferguson suggesting a new one-year contract will be presented to Giggs at the season's end, the serial medal-collector has time to increase his already unmatched haul before eventually hanging up his boots.

Three points on Sunday are a must in that regard given United find themselves eight points adrift of Chelsea and Liverpool.

One thing is for certain, if Giggs does find himself on the losing side once more, he won't be venturing too far for a few days.

"You are still aware the fans want bragging rights on Monday but you also want to win as players because, as we experienced last year, it takes a bit of time to get over losing a derby.

"If you don't get the right result you tend to stay in your house, just so the supporters don't have a chance to give you some stick."