Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs has been named the club's interim manager after the sacking of David Moyes on Tuesday. Photo by Stefan Wermuth, Reuters
MANCHESTER - In the chaos surrounding David Moyes's dismissal as Manchester United manager, it is the man for all seasons, Ryan Giggs, who provides light at the end of the Old Trafford tunnel.
Giggs, who has made a record 962 United appearances in a 23-year playing career, was an ever-present during the trophy-laden Alex Ferguson era. Now he can put to good use the knowledge gleaned from years of working with the imperious Scot.
It was always going to be a transitional period for United once Ferguson announced his retirement last season after 26 years in charge.
But instead of a new era under a new Scottish manager, the club's owners, the American Glazer family, are now turning to an old head on younger shoulders to steady the listing ship.
An inability to step out of Ferguson's shadow and make his own mark defined Moyes's tenure at United but Giggs, who has served as a player-coach this season, will not have the same problem.
His legendary status at Old Trafford is already assured and, considered the next best thing to a Ferguson return, the elevation of the 40-year-old will instantly command the respect of players and fans alike.
"Ryan could definitely be a manager because he is so wise and players invariably respect him," Ferguson wrote in his autobiography of the winger turned midfielder, who has played in every season of the Premier League since it began in 1992.
Moyes's demise could be attributed to poor results but also to his failure to embrace United's ethos of attacking, high-tempo football or behave like the manager of English football's most famous team, and one accustomed to winning.
Giggs is the most decorated British footballer in history and has the personal attributes to make a success of the job, if only on a temporary basis.
"I think you've got to be natural as much as you can as a manager, find your own style, not try and be somebody else," Giggs told The Guardian in March.
"Different people have different characteristics."
The Welshman has acquired coaching qualifications and had ample time to study Ferguson after playing under him for 22 years. Ferguson was Giggs's protector in his young days, keeping the media at bay and once turning up a party where the teenaged Giggs was drinking beer and telling him to leave immediately.
Signs of Giggs's influence were plain to see in March when he was brought back into the team and turned in a vintage performance in a 3-0 home win against Olympiakos Piraeus in the Champions League last 16.
He also spoke eloquently at a news conference before United hosted Bayern Munich in the competition's next round, exuding the type of belief and confidence that Moyes never did.
The 40-year old player-coach has experienced the glare of the media since his emergence as a swashbuckling winger in 1991, and beneath his quiet exterior is a steely determination and wily know-how that was nurtured by Ferguson.
This attitude sits well with the United team and in the Old Trafford stands that the Welshman can call home.
Giggs's 13 Premier League, four FA Cup, four League Cup and two Champions League winner's medals prove he has the pedigree and necessary experience of the big time, unlike Moyes.
He takes charge of his first game when United host relegation strugglers Norwich City on Saturday. After six defeats at home under Moyes, Old Trafford expects a return to the good times.