Watch Giggsy's unmissable MUTV Group Chat!
MUTV Group Chat ends the week with a very special guest, as Ryan Giggs discusses everything United with the lads...
How’s lockdown going for you Ryan? I’ve been okay. I’m keeping fit and have had lots of zoom calls, a few Q&A’s and podcasts so I’ve been keeping myself busy and I’m sure like a lot of the lads I’ve been home-schooling as well which has had its issues! [Laughs] That’s kept me on my toes. Right now you should be preparing for the Euros with Wales – how frustrating is it that it’s now postponed for a year? Yeah about this time we should have been on our way to Portugal actually for a training camp but everything has been put back a year. It is what it is. Obviously we were on a good run, unbeaten in six and had good momentum so that’s the downside. The upside was we had a lot of players who were maybe struggling to be fit, of course Joe Allen was going to miss the tournament so they’re the positives that these players will be fit this time next year hopefully. Leading your country into a major international tournament must have been something you were really looking forward to? Yeah definitely. Obviously Chris Coleman did so well in 2016 and we wanted to do that again. We didn’t want it to be a flash in the pan. To get there so soon in the next championships was great for the players who had been involved in 2016 and the young players who have come through the squad and who were sat at home, like I was, watching it all and hoping they would be there next time it came around. In terms of United, Dan James would hopefully have been involved in the tournament over the summer. What have you made of what you’ve seen of him? He’s not only a talented player, he’s a really good character and a solid lad. He wants to improve and that’s what I’ve seen over the last 18 months. Every time I went to watch him at Swansea he was getting better and better and he’s had a great start to his United career. He’s a United player as well and someone who United fans will enjoy watching. He’ll beat men, he’ll make things happen and of course he has that devastating speed. But as I said, more than that for me, is he’s a really good character. I think that’s what Ole has tried to do over the last months, have some really good characters in the dressing room. How much might everything that is happening impact your preparations for the Euros next year given we don’t know when next season will start and if and when international breaks will happen? We still don’t know. We’re supposed to play games in September, October and November which is obviously up in the air at the moment. And it’s difficult in terms of internationals because you have to travel and we don’t whether the quarantine rules will still be in place. And then we go into March and that will be the only other time that you’ll have competitive games before going into the tournament. As I said before we’ve just moved everything a year back but of course it’s not ideal. Potentially it could turn out that we’re not together for over a year, it could be 18 months if it goes to March which isn’t ideal because we had really good momentum. But at the same time we’ve got a really good group of young players who can gain experience over that time with their clubs and be a year older and more experienced and they will have improved. You mention young players and one you know at United of course who you’ve had in the squad is Dylan Levitt – is he someone you have hope for and who might even be involved next year? When Dylan was in the squad we had must-win games so I couldn’t really throw him in and put him in that pressure cooker, but in training he’s one of the best. He’s my kind of player, a good character, quiet but tough and he’s one that I’ll be taking a big look at over the next year or so. I want him to develop and if he does and if he plays more games then he’ll definitely be in the reckoning. He’s a really intelligent player with a good range of passing and he stands out in training in every session. As I said it’s just a shame that I couldn’t get him on the pitch. Would you look at managing at club level when your tenure finishes with Wales? I’m not too sure at the moment. I’m enjoying international football and the intensity when you meet up. There are frustrations of course that you don’t get chance to work with the players to improve them over a period of time. Lifestyle-wise it’s good, it’s not as intense as club football which I found in the two years I had under Louis, it was really intense with not much rest. At the moment I’m really happy with what I’m doing with Wales and it’s going to be a really interesting two years because the Euros and the World Cup will be condensed into a small space of time whereas usually you get time in between. So I’ll probably see how I go on after that but at the moment I have no plans [for club management], I’m enjoying it with Wales. Is there one game from your career that you wish you could go back and play again? There are so many! [Laughs] It was always good when you scored in the last minute. Obviously the Champions League final in Barcelona [in 1999] was amazing. It wasn’t the best game but that’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a football pitch. And then you go back to the first time we won the league and Brucey’s two goals against Sheffield Wednesday, when Michael Owen scored the winner against City, Sheasy’s goal at Anfield… it’s those sorts of feelings you get when you score in the last minute. Of course the FA Cup semi-final I was a sub and came on and scored the goal, and that was the game that had everything. There have been so many games, but the best feeling I ever had on a football pitch was at the Nou Camp, unbelievable. What about your penalty in the shoot-out in 2008 in Moscow. We had Michael Carrick on recently and he said he just wanted it over with and he actually ran to the penalty spot so he could take it as soon as possible. What was going through your mind when you stepped up? Carlos Queiroz had done a lot of good work during the week before the final in preparing us for that. He basically said at the beginning of the week, pick your corner and don’t change your mind. I took about 16 penalties that week and scored 15, I hit the post with one. So going up to the penalty spot I knew where I was going to put it. Sometimes you come unstuck if you change your mind as you’re walking up. It wasn’t a nice walk though. I came on as a sub so I should have been fresh but I had lead legs, it wasn’t a nice experience and it’s such a huge relief when you see it go in. I knew where I was putting it, I knew my technique, low and hard, and I always back myself. I didn’t really look at the goalkeeper which a lot of players do because I knew if I went low and hard in the corner then no goalkeeper was saving it. Who’s the best player you’ve played with and against? The best player is Cristiano [Ronaldo] but obviously he was only with us for a short space of time when he was brilliant and then went on to do just as well as he did at United elsewhere. But Scholesy is the best player I played with at United. You’ve all seen him. In training he was ridiculous, you couldn’t get near him. His brain was quicker than everyone else, his range of passing and he was nasty! [Smiles] If someone had taken the mickey out of him it was logged in the brain. Whether it be that training session or a week later or even six months later, he’d get you back! You’d think you’d got him in training and then he’d just pop the ball off and give the little feign, he was just brilliant in training. The hardest player I played against was [Javier] Zanetti from Inter Milan. He ran all day and he used to be a midfielder so he was comfortable on the ball, he could defend, he was tough and he actually broke my nose in the quarter-finals against them. He had everything as a defender. Are there elements of the managers you’ve worked under in the way you manage players now? Oh definitely. Discipline for one, that was the one thing that Sir Alex and Louis had. Standards in training and on the pitch in games and also believing in young players. I got a chance at 17 and I’ve tried to do the same with Wales, pick out the best young players and give them a chance. If they take their chance then great, if they don’t then at least they’ve had a chance. And it’s about trying to play football in the right way, an exciting way, scoring goals and having players on the pitch who want to excite the fans and excite me as well. What are you like in the dressing room? I’m very calm! It has been known [that I can rant]. As a manager one of the most difficult times is half-time because you haven’t got long. It’s not difficult losing you rag when you’re not playing well or when the players haven’t done what you’ve asked, that’s the easy bit. It’s when you come in and you’re winning 2-0, that’s the hard bit because you want to tell them to maintain what they’ve been doing. I actually enjoy it a lot more if I have to have a go at them because you’ve got something to say and you get it off your chest. I’m pretty calm but if the players don’t do what I’ve said then there is no messing about. Do the pressures of management make you think how on earth did the Boss do it for so long at our club? I’m still new to it and while it does get easier it’s still not easy. I remember being on the coach in my first game for Wales [as manager] and we were playing China in China and I remember thinking ‘this is my last game, I don’t want to think like this again’… because everything is out of your hands. I’d prepared the team even though I’d only had them with me for a couple of days, but then it’s out of your hands and it’s a horrible feeling, but the more you do it the more you get used to it. The highs are huge, better than when you were a player, but the lows are much worse than when you were a player as well. Wayne Rooney really praised Louis van Gaal last week and you were his assistant for a couple of years – did you agree with what Wayne said about what a brilliant manager and organiser Louis was? I understand what Wayne was saying. Obviously we both worked under Sir Alex who I’ve known since I was 13. Sir Alex had everything – man-management, discipline, standards, tactics, knowing a player… but with him, because we had such good players who had been together for a long time, you’d just go out and play. You knew your role, it was just a matter of just tweaking it. With Louis it was probably the opposite. We played different systems under him whereas under Sir Alex we more or less just played one system and we’d tweak it. I can’t remember us ever playing three at the back, maybe once or twice if we needed to hold on but other than that we didn’t. Louis came in and went with three at the back and then he’d change things to having a diamond or we’d have a 4-3-3 so in that respect you were learning how to play different systems and why and when you would play those systems, and of course some worked and some didn’t. It was about getting an understanding of the different ways to play so I know what Wayne was saying because Louis worked a lot more on the training pitch with regards to patterns of play and tactical work. He’d come from Holland and also an international background and he took that into club football so we had a lot of meetings, players felt sometimes too many! With Sir Alex it was quite simple. I’m not saying we didn’t have meetings, of course we did, but we had such good players that the manager would just need to tell them once and it would just be a little tweak here and there, like Ji-sung Park would go and mark Pirlo for example and Ji would do it and do it brilliantly. So I know what Wayne meant in terms of learning a lot under Louis. What have you made of how Ole has been getting on? He really seems to have been shaping the team in the way he wants it… It was a shame we had to pause the season because we were flying. Ole started his management with United flying then had a tough spell and then we were on a good run. But like I said earlier the players he’s got in have been really impressive. They’ve improved the team and the dressing room and obviously in [Bruno] Fernandes we’ve seen over the years the affect one player can sometimes have. You talk about the Cantonas, the van Persies… and I’m not comparing him yet to them but he’s made other players play better and he’s given everyone a lift. I still think we need four or five players but we’re definitely going in the right direction. Everyone who has come on this chat has had a story about Maysie and his impact on the dressing room… have you got one?! How long have we got?! [Laughs] Maysie was a tough player to play against. I know he preferred centre-half but I played against him when he was at Blackburn and he was a good defender, always in the right position which is tough for a winger to play against. Maysie probably wasn’t the quickest but it didn’t matter because he was always in the right place. When he came to United he was really good to have around the dressing room, whether he was playing or not. He obviously had a few injury problems but he was always good to have around the dressing room and that’s the key to all successful teams, having a really good team spirit and a good squad. He was a bit crazy at times… I can’t mention some of the nights out on pre-season tours on this show! [Laughs] What about Ben as well? If Ben hadn’t had that terrible injury might he have been chasing your position? Yes. I played with Ben at Salford Boys. He was a year younger but he played in my team because he was that good. Ben was a brilliant player, he was unlike me who could just go one way onto his left foot… Ben was two-footed so he could go either way and that was a nightmare for a defender. He was comfortable with both feet, he could beat a man, he was tough and would take the ball and run and he was quick and he could finish. Ben was a top player and I saw that first hand from about 11 or 12 years old and it was obviously a shame he got that nasty injury. What have you got for us on Wes?! [Laughs] I often say that at United training was full on and harder than the games because you were playing against better players. I always say I had it tough because I played against Nev [England right-back] for so many years and also Wes as well. Wes had his breakthrough season in the Treble season and the other season we won the European Cup I think he played about 45/46 games that season. It just shows that the successful years we had Wes was a big part of that. We had Andy Cole on and a few others and they all said they wish they had enjoyed the success a bit more – you’d win a trophy and you’d be looking ahead to the next one straight away. You won everything – do you look back and wish you’d enjoyed it all more? Yes that’s right. I remember with the Treble obviously we celebrated that night and if someone had said to us at the start of the season you’ll win the Treble you’d have said to yourself, ‘right, I’m going to celebrate for two weeks after it’. But actually we just celebrated that night, came back and went on international duty two or three days later. Of course you celebrate the wins and the cup finals and seeing all your family and friends coming together, but the disappointments last longer. When you win things you celebrate and go on holiday and look back and you’re proud, but when you don’t win anything or you’ve just been pipped to the league on the last day that feeling lasts the whole summer and you can’t wait to get back. After a week on the beach you’ve had enough and you want to get back to training to do something about the disappointment. That’s the reason why the disappointments are clearer in my head than winning because the feeling lasted longer, it was a bigger emotion just missing out rather than winning something. I can enjoy winning now and be proud. I never really used to watch games back when I was playing because I was always looking forward, but now you can enjoy it more and be proud of what you’ve achieved. Some of the games my kids haven’t seen so you can sit there and watch it with them and enjoy it rather than regretting anything. Of course though we did celebrate as players, we definitely had good times! [Smiles] Can you pick your six-a-side team from the players you played with? I’d have Schmeichel in goal, Jaap [Stam] would be the whole back four. Then I’d have Scholesy, Keaney, Ronaldo and Rooney.