Manchester United: Time Finally Catches Up to Ryan Giggs

Nathan LoweAnalyst IJune 5, 2011

"Oh" face?
"Oh" face?Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The fairytale of Ryan Giggs the yoga master and evergreen footballer seems to have entered its fateful third and final act.

After another unexpectedly influential season at Premier League champions Manchester United, the Welshman now endures at least two well-publicized scandals that certainly aren't going to help his football.

In fact, a cynical mind could easily connect Giggs' personal escapades and their continued fallout to signal the end to what was always a serendipitous sustaining to his storied career.

Time and regard

The 2008-09 PFA Player of the Year was actually beginning to fade at the beginning of the 21st century.

Personal anecdotal evidence, in fact, indicates that a large bung of supporters in the Stretford End booed him off the pitch in a 2001 Worthington Cup match against Blackburn.

However, a move to center midfield complimented Giggs' new focus on diet and fitness, and he eventually became a largely reborn player throughout the last several seasons.

As an aside It should be said—somewhere, at least—that as he was such a widely beloved player, his accomplishments were always bolstered by a common desire for him to succeed.

The British media, at least until recent revelations, had a proclivity to exaggerate one of the Premiership's founding sons. Giggs has appeared completely lost at the races, at times, over recent seasons, facts that are overshadowed immediately by a single moment of brilliance.

In 2009, after a veritable match-winning performance against Chelsea domestically by the Welshman, manager Sir Alex Ferguson suggested Giggs should win player of the season honors.

It was laughable for anyone following United over the whole season—the No. 11 was abominable throughout much of its first half (a tendency among bourgeois United superstars).

He ended up winning it though, largely on that display alone, but the award became more of a token of appreciation for his person and career rather than being meritorious.

But anyways, the truth remained that he the adaptation of yoga into his fitness regime, coupled with conscience (or managerial) stylistic changes helped keep him usually deserving of a spot on one of Europe's most elite teams even at his age.

That narrative was reinforced during United's 2010-11 season when, once again, the Red Devils had to rely on him far more than any fans would have hoped or expected.

Any expectations for Giggs' effectiveness next season should be lowered. United are on the cusp of some major signings, with reports indicating a winger and an attacking central midfielder, among others.

Moreover, the recently revealed exploits of the player are sure to have a detrimental effect on his form next season.

The freedom of Salford

When the mayor of of Salford awarded Giggs the freedom of the city in 2009, no one knew how literally he'd indulge it.

Two weeks ago, on May 26th, the British parliament revealed Giggs as the footballer who had tried to use an injunction to block information of an extramarital affair with some realty television tart.

If that wasn't humiliating enough—and trust the British press to have made it more so—the Daily Mail conjectured early Saturday that the lascivious Welshman has been carrying on an affair with his brother's wife for many years.

Whether or not it's true may not matter. The effect such intense scrutiny and public guilt have on players is documented, or at least inferred.

Teammate Wayne Rooney himself endured the worst eight months of his playing career last season before arriving on a semblance of form in March (which erased the prior eight months from the minds of popular culture).

It's too bad, but Giggs is sure to be hounded for months about his playboy exploits. He'd do well to keep his mouth shut, instead of trying to silence people with injunctions. He could also not be a huge footballing cliche.

No longer a darling of English football, nor its media, his footballing decline—which he managed to postpone with good effort and focus—will be expedited by his poor form elsewhere.

Bad touches and turnovers will be highlighted instead of unwittingly discarded by vicarious pundits.

His ability to again fulfill grand expectations will be well-diminished as the romanticism of Ryan Giggs as a simple, quiet, but classy footballer fails to run on fumes.

Hopefully his general exclusion on teamsheets next season will be justified by an increased depth in attack United promise to wield next fall.

At the very least, the Reds should not need him nearly as much next term, just as we said the last three campaigns.

Hopefully he may improbably assuage any and all outstanding personal issues before the start of the next season.

Though the facade may now mercifully end, his legend of footballing remains for several generations.


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