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Premier League

Phelan hails Giggs as 'best ever'

Ryan Giggs is too modest to say whether he is in the form of his life, so Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan did it for him.

Giggs turned in another sensational performance at Pride Park yesterday as United eased past Derby to book an FA Cup quarter-final trip to either Swansea or Fulham next month.

For a player who has achieved just about every possible milestone in a Red Devils career which now extends to 788 games, the last-eight draw sets up the possibility of Giggs meeting a Welsh club, in his homeland, in a competitive game for the first time in his career.

Other even more noteworthy events should occur later in the season as the world champions chase an incredible quintuple, while Giggs' present form has put him right in the frame to win the major individual player of the year awards.

"There is an argument to say Ryan is playing better than he has ever done," said Phelan.

"He looks after himself, is totally professional and seems to have found a rich vein of form.

"He goes on to another level every year. We can only be happy with that."

Giggs had a hand in all four United goals yesterday, plus the one Cristiano Ronaldo had controversially disallowed.

And, although he is likely to be rested for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League encounter with Fulham, he seems sure to have a major part to play in United's quest for silverware.

"I am certainly enjoying my football more than ever," he said.

"It is for other people to judge whether I am playing as well as I have ever done.

"But I am playing quite regularly and the team are playing well, which is what we want."

Last Thursday, Giggs signed a one-year contract extension which emphasises Sir Alex Ferguson's belief that a player with 10 Premier League titles, two European Cups and four FA Cups - a fifth would equal the competition record, last achieved in the 19th century - still has the hunger to strive for more.

The former Wales skipper recognises his role in the team has changed, from flying wing wizard to midfield schemer. But, with younger legs around him taking some of the pressure away, Giggs is capable of making a devastating contribution, as Derby found to their cost.

"I am not going to sprint in behind defenders like I used to but I use my experience to get on the ball and try to create from there," he said.

"You know without even looking sometimes that a colleague will be there because the movement is so good.

"I was really pleased to sign for another year and look forward to being a part of this team."

With Wayne Rooney set for a place on the substitutes' bench at best, with Ferguson tempted to leave the England striker out until Saturday's clash with Blackburn, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov are set to return to a more familiar starting line-up on Wednesday.

Edwin van der Sar will look to extend his incredible clean sheet streak to 14 games against his former club, which would put United well on the way towards opening a five-point gap over second-placed Liverpool.

A trophy quintuple of Premier League, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League - with the Club World Cup already in the bag - is still possible but rather than make any predictions, Giggs is just happy to confirm United are merely playing well.

"We don't think of ourselves as invincible but we are in good form and on a great run," he said.

"Every player that comes in needs to take their chance. You are finding that lads coming in are fresh and we are playing some good stuff."