Ryan Giggs insists Manchester United are focused on Southampton rather than Real Madrid

Champions League date against Spanish champions is looming

Ryan Giggs insists Manchester United will not allow thoughts of Real Madrid to cloud their Barclays Premier League title assault.

It is now just a fortnight until United head to Spain for a summit meeting with Jose Mourinho and a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo to scrap it out for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The two-legged confrontation has captured the imagination of supporters worldwide, pitting arguably football's two most famous club sides in direct confrontation, even without the individual personalities involved.

However, Giggs is acutely aware three key Premier League engagements must be navigated first, starting with tomorrow's Old Trafford encounter with Southampton.

And he knows the glamour of a night out at the Bernabeu must not be allowed to affect United's focus.

"We're not thinking about Madrid," said Giggs.

"Everyone was excited when the draw was made but you can't look too far ahead.

"You want to perform in games like that and be in good form going into them. That is what we intend to do and the best way of achieving that is to concentrate on the opponents immediately ahead."

As someone who has played a professional career now approaching its 22nd year under the guidance of one man, Giggs is not the most obvious person to ask about the upheaval at St Mary's following Nigel Adkins' recent dismissal.

Yet Giggs would have to exist in a bubble not to appreciate the wacky world football has become, and some of the seemingly strange decisions that are made in the name of progress.

And, as someone keen on entering the management game when his stellar playing career finally reaches its conclusion, the 39-year-old knows the pressures that come with being a top-flight boss.

More than that, Giggs realises players tend to be an expedient bunch on the whole.

"Players just get on with it," he said.

"Everyone was shocked when Nigel Adkins went, but ultimately players have got a job to do.

"The new manager (Mauricio Pochettino) will put his ideas across and players will just get on with it."

Thus far, Pochettino has only had one game to deal with, which resulted in a home draw against Everton.

Of far more significance to Giggs is that result being part of a run which has seen the Saints go six Premier League games unbeaten, and lose two of their last 13, enough to haul themselves out of the relegation zone and edge away from trouble.

The warning will be enough to trigger the return of 22-goal Robin van Persie, who sat out Saturday's FA Cup win over Fulham but is looking for a new personal landmark of scoring in six consecutive league matches.

In addition central defensive duo Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are also set to be recalled as United defend their record of never losing to the Saints in a league match at Old Trafford since 1988, when Colin Clarke did the damage, grabbing both goals in a 2-0 win.

"It will be another tough game for us," said Giggs.

"I suppose you could say there are no easy games in this league but Southampton have been in decent form and gave us a good game earlier in the season, so we'll need to play well.

"You want to perform well for your satisfaction and your own form. It also gives you confidence going into the next game."

PA

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