After 29 years, 963 appearances, 168 goals and 2 years as assistant manager, Ryan Giggs’ time at Manchester United is finally over.
Ryan Giggs was the yardstick when it comes to ‘one club players’. Giggs hung up his boots for the final time in 2014, where he had also ended the season as Manchester United caretaker manager, and was instantly appointed as Louis van Gaals assistant manager.
It was supposed to be a learning process. Giggs would learn from van Gaal, and eventually take over next summer when the Dutchman retired. However the plan went sour as Manchester United’s season faltered, meaning Van Gaal was given the boot in May, and replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho brought in his own trusted assistant Rui Faria, leaving Giggs with a choice to make. Demotion, or Leave.
After much deliberation, the Welshman has chosen the latter, in an attempt to forge his own managerial career elsewhere.
A statement released by the Ryan Giggs today read:
After 29 seasons at Manchester United as a player and assistant manager, I know winning is in the DNA of this club – giving youth a chance, and playing attacking and exciting football. It’s healthy to have high expectations, it’s right to expect to win. Manchester United expects, deserves, nothing less.
This is why it is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14. It has not been a decision that I have made lightly. I’ll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future.
However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in having two great managerial mentors; first in Sir Alex, who I’ve spent the majority of my life working with and learning from and who I believe will remain as football’s greatest-ever manager and in more recent times, Louis van Gaal, whose CV speaks for itself. The knowledge I have gleaned from them has been invaluable.
I want to reiterate my thanks to the backroom staff and support teams at Manchester United I’ve worked with over the years. The results on the pitch are a reflection of the hard work off it. I would not have achieved the success I have without the dedication, sacrifice and commitment of these people in creating the best environment for the team to succeed.
I want to congratulate José Mourinho on his appointment as manager of the world’s biggest club. There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and José is unquestionably one of them. I know the fans will welcome him.
My final thank you is to the fans. I cannot begin to tell you how much I will miss walking out at Old Trafford in front of you. It’s extremely difficult to say goodbye after 29 years. I have loved every minute both as a player and assistant manager. The support you have always shown me has been phenomenal; thank you.
It’s time for a new chapter and a new challenge. I’m excited about the future – I’ve had the best apprenticeship into management anyone could ever ask for.
Giggs will be hoping his managerial career gets a better start than that of his close friend Gary Neville, who was in charge at Valencia for a short time last season before being sacked.