Ryan Giggs is viewed as a key individual in Manchester United’s battle to get Wayne Rooney’s career at the club back on track, after his appointment as a player coach today.
Giggs’ new role was announced as United also confirmed that Phil Neville would join David Moyes’ backroom staff – a move independent.co.uk revealed earlier today. Giggs, 39, who signed a one-year contract extension with United in March, has just returned from an intense eight-day Pro-License coaching assignment at the under-20s World Cup, where his physical fitness “astonished” observers, one professional who was with him there has told The Independent. Moyes is likely to have been encouraged by his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson to appoint Giggs as a coach, with the former manager having told United 18 months ago that he viewed him as his potential successor.
Giggs’ work on the Pro Licence badge in Istanbul demonstrates the aspiration to manage, though United will be looking to Giggs in the short term to play a key role in persuading Rooney that any other club will be a pale imitation of United and that he should seize the fresh start that Moyes is ready to give him. There is a dearth of players capable of influencing Rooney in the dressing room and the 27-year-old’s has a relationship with Giggs which is more likely to stand a few home truths. Rooney’s relationship with Rio Ferdinand, for example, is not so strong.
Giggs is likely to urge Rooney to consider the positives in Moyes’ arrival: that the new manager is ready to accept the Englishman’s protestations that he did not formally demand a transfer request of Ferguson, weeks before the manager’s retirement and that he is likely to give him more opportunity to prove himself in the preferred attacking role which Ferguson denied him. His decision is likely to come down to money and whether he is willing to accept there is no big new salary package for him.
Giggs, who will be 40 in November, will complete his Pro-Licence next summer and said last month that he will now use international breaks to developing his coaching. “All I have to do between now and [the summer of 2014] is get on to the pitch whenever possible to do a bit of coaching,” he said. "It is hard at times when you are still playing as you have to gauge what you can and can't do, but I will probably use the international breaks to try to get a little bit of coaching in.
"I will need to top up my coaching and will have to get onto the pitch to do some sessions. I've been doing that this year and will continue with that. But I signed a one-year contract because I want to contribute to United and I feel I can still do that, so following [Ferguson] into retirement didn't enter my mind."
Giggs, who won a record 13th Premier League title last season – and his 34 winners’ medal, will also be looked to by Moyes in his attempts to retain continuity from the Ferguson era. The new manager will be presented as United manager at 4pm tomorrow, alongside skipper Nemanja Vidic at Old Trafford. Having confirmed Steve Round, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden were following him from Everton, concern had been expressed about the lack of United experience in Moyes's backroom team following his appointment as Ferguson's successor. Neville’s arrival at the club’s training complex on Thursday morning, where he launched himself immediately into a training session, will help allay such concerns.