Giggs turns back on life abroad to tackle new challenge of making United the team to fear

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The Independent Online

Ryan Giggs has been linked with a move to Italy, especially Internazionale, for a decade but now it seems Massimo Moratti, Inter's president, will not get his man. This week, amid the Malcolm Glazer hullabaloo, Giggs signed a new deal which will keep him at Old Trafford until he is 34.

Ryan Giggs has been linked with a move to Italy, especially Internazionale, for a decade but now it seems Massimo Moratti, Inter's president, will not get his man. This week, amid the Malcolm Glazer hullabaloo, Giggs signed a new deal which will keep him at Old Trafford until he is 34.

Yesterday he confirmed it meant he would never play for another club. "Maybe I'll one day regret not playing abroad, like Becks has, but the way I see it, there's always a challenge here," he said. "Chelsea are the new one. They've raised the bar. And I'm a United fan. I want to play for United. I've enjoyed my time here and I want more success."

So, another three years of the "Hairdryer", as Sir Alex Ferguson's tongue-lashings are known. "Oh yeah. If you don't work hard, he's going to come down on you. That's the way he's always been. And as long as he's got that, he'll still be working.

"I think the gaffer enjoys the challenge of taking on [Jose] Mourinho. He's obviously enjoyed the challenge of taking on [Arsène] Wenger over the past seven or eight years. That's one of the things that keeps him going.

"He's not mellowed, maybe adjusted. Things have changed from when I came into the first team. The players now have a lot more power. He probably can't treat players and young lads like he used to. You can't get away with that now. But he still tells the young lads they have to grow up properly, respect the club and all the traits that come with being a Man United player."

According to some at Highbury, that includes kicking lumps out of people, a suggestion Ferguson vehemently disputes. "Jose Antonio Reyes was fouled three times at Old Trafford - that hardly constitutes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre," he noted yesterday. Giggs, who has rarely kicked anyone - he is an excellent tackler - has his own view on the apparent animosity between the teams.

"I think Arsenal are still our biggest rivals purely because of the history between the two clubs over the years. The last game at Highbury, the build-up started way before, and the players sensed that. You just sense that it's a big game and you know you've got to be right physically and mentally.

"The players don't dislike each other but our games are competitive and in the past two seasons have spilled into dangerous territory, which we don't want on Saturday. The last game was competitive but there was nothing really naughty about it. Mikaël [Silvestre] got sent off but the Arsenal players just got on with it and so did we.

"I remember watching Kevin Moran being sent off in the Cup final [1985, the only FA Cup final dismissal]. Hopefully, it won't happen again, even though we won. You wouldn't want a player to be sent off, especially if it's hot on a big pitch like the Millennium. You don't want to be chasing after Arsenal. So you have to be careful and behave yourself."

Getting back to Highbury, how significant was the clash between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira in the tunnel? "Before the game we didn't think much of it. We were just laughing at the banter between the two teams. That was it really. Once you've got out on the pitch, you forget what's happened in the tunnel. Maybe individually, between Keaney and Vieira, it might have had some bearing on the game. But they both played well, so probably it didn't. That kind of thing normally happens after a game. But they're both captains, both competitive players, they both want to win. There aren't many verbals going on on the pitch. There's no point. They're all top players, internationals, so I don't think it would affect them. It certainly wouldn't affect us."

Looking further forward, Giggs admitted next season was a crucial one. "The last couple of years we haven't won the league and, after the success we've had, the pressure's on. We've got to react positively. We feel we've got the talent. We've got everything in place, the management, experience and mix of youth. We've got everything to win the championship, we've just got to put it in place on the pitch."

"Chelsea have the money to go out and buy new players and strengthen their squad. That's obviously a worry because they can add two or three world-class players to an already great team. But it's always harder to defend the title. When you're striving to do something for the first time there's that hunger. I'm not saying that hunger goes, but once you've got it maybe a little bit of relaxation creeps in. And if there's just a little bit of 'We're the champions, we can just go out and perform', teams can beat you. And, also, teams always want to beat the champions. We know all about that at United."

It is a sensation Giggs would love to experience again. In the meantime he will have to settle for playing for the FA Cup holders, possibly for another year, maybe for just one more day.

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