Giggs’ struggles underline the arrogance shown by some former players

It hasn’t been the best of starts for Ryan Giggs over his own national side and Graham Ruthven reckons he knows why that is…

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Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, it was not. With Manchester United still reeling from the sacking of David Moyes, Ryan Giggs took charge for the final fixture of the season – a game away to Southampton.

A giant of the Old Trafford club, one might have imagined he’d have a stirring message to rouse his players. But he didn’t.

“It’s the last game of the season, we want to end on a high, we want to give our fans something to shout about,” Giggs droned on to his United team, who looked as exhilarated by their caretaker manager’s team talk as a trip to the dentist.

“F****** City or Liverpool are going to win the league… err… give our fans something to shout about.” That was it.

This clip, which went viral, was from a documentary about Giggs’ month as United caretaker manager and made it easier to believe the reports that would emerge from Swansea City two years later.

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Cut adrift by Man Utd following the appointment of Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2016, Giggs was keen on the then available job at the Liberty Stadium. The interest was mutual, but then came the interview.

Reports claimed Giggs presentation to the Swansea board was “underwhelming,” that he turned up unprepared with no real vision for the South Wales club. Giggs had only been caretaker manager at Manchester United for four games, but clearly believed that his playing reputation would be enough to get him the job.

It wasn’t, though, and Swansea opted for Bob Bradley, followed by Paul Clement, who also interviewed alongside Giggs.

What followed was a rather cringe-worthy tour of self-touting from Giggs.

On Twitter, there is a bot that reacts to every footballing vacancy by tipping Alan Curbishley for the job (@AlansAvailable). Giggs over a year or so became the human embodiment of that Twitter account, putting himself forward for each and every job going, no matter how feasible.

In October of last year, Giggs expressed his interest in vacancies at both Everton and Leicester City.

This was after he’d been rejected by Southampton, who didn’t even want the former winger to even apply for their manager’s position. Norwich City also decided to pass on Giggs despite a very public declaration of interest in the role at Carrow Road.

Of course, Giggs might argue that his approach paid off when he was appointed Wales manager earlier this year, but his track record since then suggests there was little more than arrogance behind the confidence in his own ability.

Wales have regressed under Giggs, with Tuesday night’s defeat to an Albanian side beaten 4-0 by Scotland just a few days previously particularly embarrassing.

This is a sense of entitlement often seen in former footballers, though. It’s not just Giggs.

There is a belief at a certain level of the game that a successful playing career is qualification enough to be fast-tracked into management.

Did Giggs really believe that he could start off as a manager in the Premier League?

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have also entered the world of management in recent times, at Rangers and Derby County respectively, but at least they had the humility to recognise that they must prove themselves at a lower level before making the step up to the tier they became accustomed to as players.

Even then, these examples only bolster the belief in former players that they deserve a leg up few others are afforded.

Giggs’ struggles as Wales manager demonstrate that the recruitment process should be down to much more than just reputation, particularly if that reputation was earned in a completely different arena.

It’s natural that teams should be tempted by the thought of former players as managers.

Many have made the crossover with great success, but that success is not guaranteed. Giggs is testament to this after a difficult 2018.

When he next goes for a job interview, he’ll have to present more than just himself.

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