Week 31 (18 - 25 April 2014)
Ryan Giggs is aware that however well Manchester United fare in the final four games of the 2013/14 Premier League, it will not change the fact that this has been, in Giggs’ own words, “a frustrating and disappointing season” for the most storied club in English football.
The 40-year-old, who has been at the club since he was 14, stepped in as United’s interim manager on Tuesday following the sacking of David Moyes. His task is a simple one: to round the season off for the club and the fans on as high a note as possible.
Based on his first press conference and an interview with MUTV, Giggs seems to have the right communications toolkit to achieve this. The Welshman’s demeanour when facing the media for the first time since his appointment was relaxed and composed and his answers conveyed the enthusiasm he has for taking on the role – the same enthusiasm he’s had throughout his career as a player (which still isn’t over by the way).
Most importantly, Giggs was absolutely clear about how United need to approach the final four games of the season if they are to end on a high:
“I’ve just said to them (the players) ‘I trust you and I know what you’re capable of. Go out there and show it on Saturday and give the fans something to shout about. Entertain them, score goals, make tackles, play with speed, play with tempo.’ And that’s what they’ve done in training and they’ll take that out into the game on Saturday.”
Whether Giggs’ philosophy translates to immediate success on the pitch will be seen on Saturday evening against Norwich City, but the mood around Old Trafford is lighter already. This could well be because Giggs has provided a bit of perspective. When he says it has been “a frustrating and disappointing season” he is right; but that is all it’s been. With some of the press coverage surrounding David Moyes’ dismissal, you could be forgiven for thinking Old Trafford was sinking. It is not, and the Aon Training Complex is in good shape too, as are the various outposts the club has all over the world. The strength, popularity and support for the club is better than ever. Finishing lower than expected in the Premier League may be disappointing but it doesn’t alter the DNA of Manchester United.
Giggs is also trying to put the fun back into football for his players and is urging them just to enjoy playing the game. It’s a message which can never be repeated too many times, and Giggs conveys it in un-fancy but passionate terms:
"I'll tell the players just try to enjoy yourself, express yourself.
“As a player I know if I'm enjoying the game I can express myself a lot more and that's what I'll be doing with the team tomorrow.
"It's been a frustrating season for everyone. We win together and lose together and in these remaining four games, I want to bring the positivity back. Three home games at Old Trafford, where the home form hasn't been great, and I want to see goals, tackles, players taking players on and getting the crowd up. I want the passion that should come with being a Manchester United player."
Norwich City, Sunderland, Hull City and Southampton: you have been warned.
Photo: The Student Room