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Saturday 10 December 2016

Ferguson era loses its main link

Ryan Giggs has been a fixture at Manchester United since 1987. Photo: Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Ryan Giggs has been a fixture at Manchester United since 1987. Photo: Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

The reported departure of Ryan Giggs from Manchester United would break one of the club's strongest remaining links with the glorious Sir Alex Ferguson era.

For two decades Giggs has been at the heart of the success enjoyed by United's all-conquering side under Ferguson and it will be strange to see him working anywhere but Old Trafford in future.

An official statement from United confirming Giggs' departure is expected in the coming days. The 42-year-old Welshman, who had a year remaining on his contract, worked as a coach under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal but was unable to reach an agreement about another role at the club under new manager Jose Mourinho.

Giggs joined United as a 14-year-old and played 963 times for the Old Trafford club, helping them win 13 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues before hanging up his boots in 2014.

He has been tipped as a future United manager, but is now likely to seek a role with another club.

His close association with the much-criticised, ponderous possession-based style of Van Gaal probably damaged his hopes of succeeding the Dutchman as manager.

But as he moves on in hope of furthering his coaching career elsewhere, the Welshman does so as nothing less than a hero at United.

Destined

He always seemed destined for greatness after bursting onto the scene in exhilarating fashion as a 17-year-old but he went on to become the most decorated player in the English game.

There were different phases to Giggs' career as over the years he successfully adapted his game around the natural ageing process.

As time went on he became less of a flying winger with a knack of scoring spectacular goals and more of an intuitive midfielder but, such were his high levels of fitness, his influence waned little.

When he finally hung up his boots at the age of 40 in 2014 he had won 34 trophies and scored 168 goals. On the international front he earned 64 caps for Wales between 1991 and 2007 but never played in a major tournament.

By the time of his retirement he had already moved into coaching, having worked as player-coach under David Moyes.

He even got a brief taste of life in the hotseat by serving as caretaker boss for four games following the sacking of Moyes in April 2014.

Going on to work as assistant under Van Gaal seemed a logical step for both him and the club but it proved a difficult two years as United fell well short of challenging for the Premier League title.

The club are now heading in a different direction under Mourinho and, for the first time in almost 30 years, it appears Giggs will not be a part of it.

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