No sign of Giggs waning says Sir Alex Ferguson
EVERGREEN Welshman Ryan Giggs might be 37 now – but Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admits there is no sign of him waning.
Giggs grabbed the first goal in Tuesday night’s 2-0 first-leg win against Schalke in Germany which puts Ferguson’s men in pole position to contest the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28.
“It is strange because Ryan’s peak years seem to have lasted so long,” said Ferguson.
“You would think, at 37, he would be showing signs of waning. I don’t see any evidence of that.
“We look after him in terms of rest before games, but when he gets that freshness he doesn’t show any sign of fatiguing at all. He is an amazing man.”
Ferguson virtually ruled Giggs out of Sunday’s crucial Premier League trip to Arsenal, when victory would keep them at least six points clear at the top with only three games to go.
Instead, he will keep his longest-serving player in reserve for the return encounter with Schalke, knowing only an improbable three-goal win for the Bundesliga side at Old Trafford will take them through.
For even that very slim hope, Schalke had goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to thank after a performance from the Germany goalkeeper that is the best Ferguson has ever witnessed from an opposition player.
“In my time at United, it is probably the finest display of goalkeeping against us,” said Ferguson.
“I am sure there have been other feats, but tonight I saw a very good one.”
The Red Devils chief probably did not know whether to laugh or cry at half-time, so dominant had his side been without getting any reward.
United spurned 11 good chances, then wasted two more after the break before Giggs’ effort was followed, three minutes later, by Wayne Rooney’s 14th of the season.
“When Wayne plays behind a striker he is very dangerous,” said United defender Patrice Evra.
“He touches the ball more often. He can create goals and score them.
“He enjoys being there and is a great benefit for the team.
“Don’t ask me what his best position is though. This year he has chosen to play number 10.
“Maybe next year he will play number nine. The most important thing is that he plays well.”
Ferguson’s side had not conceded an away goal in Europe this season and, true to form, they closed the match out to complete that remarkable defensive record, which left their manager purring.
“Overall I was delighted. It was a top performance,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand has warned United’s rivals he will not be satisfied even if the Red Devils go on to complete their second Premier League-Champions League double in four years.
If United wrap up a record 19th league championship, it would be Ferdinand’s fifth such triumph since arriving at Old Trafford for a then club record £29.1m in 2002.
But would Ferdinand be happy with that? Not a chance.
“If I finish in two years’ time with what I have now, I wouldn’t be satisfied. No chance. I would be having nightmares,” he said.
“There is so much to be won. If we didn’t win the league this year I would be devastated.
“I want to win the league this year, next year and every year I am playing.
“This is our fourth Champions League semi-final in five years. And we have only won it once. There is a lot of disappointment in those four years.”
For all the glory they have enjoyed down the years, it could be argued this present five-year spell is the best era United have ever had.
At no other point have they been able to combine domestic supremacy with sustained European success.
It is a quite phenomenal achievement, made all the more remarkable given that this present team have been written off by so many people so often this season.
“It is wishful thinking on a lot of people’s behalf,” laughed Ferdinand. “People want us to lose because we have won the league three out of the last four years and they probably want to see a little bit of variation.
“What sets us apart from other teams is that the hunger never dies. It stems from the manager and filters down through the squad.”