Is Ryan Giggs the answer for Manchester United’s midfield?

Manchester United produced arguably their best performance of the season on Wednesday night as they defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 at Old Trafford.

While Wayne Rooney garnered the plaudits for his scintillating display, the evergreen Ryan Giggs was back to his optimum best after a dismal outing against Southampton.

The Wales international added the lacking element of mobility and pace to United’s play. Against Southampton, Marouane Fellaini was too static in his positioning, restricting United’s creativity in the midfield.

Whereas, Giggs provided an element of elegance to David Moyes’ set-up against Sociedad. He combined admirable well with Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney. When Rooney dropped deep, Giggs took up the space vacated by the Englishman, ensuring Javier Hernandez wasn’t isolated and United continued to form the nexus through the middle of the park.

The link-up among Rooney, Kagawa and Giggs meant United maintained their fluidity throughout.

Giggs also provided United with a central midfielder willing to skip through challenges, take on players and run with the ball. He completed the joint-highest number of dribbles of all players on the pitch (5) on Wednesday.

While Fellaini simply passed the ball to Rooney or the wingers against Southampton, hoping they would do the rest of the attacking work, Giggs emerged as someone willing to shoulder the attacking duties.

Fellaini made attacking runs against the Saints but he simply joined in the attack expecting a long ball from Carrick (Everton instincts).

The Belgian couldn’t carry the ball forward or play one-two’s with the attackers. This forced Rooney to drop back to collect the ball and when he did fall back, Hernandez was too high up the pitch and unlike Giggs, Fellaini didn’t interchange roles with Rooney. So, United’s link between the midfield and attack was cut off.

Giggs’ passing abilities also played a crucial role in United’s Champions League win. In the Southampton tie, Fellaini was slow and cautious with his passing.

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Comparing Giggs’ passing pattern in the Sociedad match with that of Fellaini’s against Southampton, we find Giggs was more varied with his passing.

He played more long balls than Fellaini (3 to 2), more attacking third passes (20 to 8) and had more passes directed towards the two strikers (14 to 8).

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Simply put, Giggs involvement against Sociedad didn’t really change much.

United’s players just interchanges positions more often (making it hard for the opposition to mark them) and the Red Devils were able to dominate the midfield battle as Giggs got forward regularly to provide a numerical advantage against Markel Bergara and David Zurutuza. In addition, Giggs’ passing was more direct and quick.

Fellaini is either a second-striker or a player who could sit back, break up teams’ plays and pass from a deep lying role. He can’t move with the ball and he is not really useful in the transition process owing to a poor first touch and lack of one-touch skills.

United need a shuttler or a box-to-box midfielder. Thankfully, Giggs didn’t sacrifice his defensive duties against Sociedad (making four interceptions and one tackle) but Moyes can’t really rely on a player about to turn 40 in a couple of weeks to bail out the English champions every week.

What do you think on Ryan Giggs’ form for United? Comment in the section below.

About Surya 32 Articles
Surya Solanki is a freelance football writer covering the Premier League and African football. Being an avid Manchester United supporter for the past ten years, something always motivated him to go beyond just being a spectator, and gradually he began blogging about his views. He is currently a Manchester United critic at Goal.com and a correspondent for Football.com.

5 Comments

  1. Some questions are not worth asking, b’se gigg is growing old with his football. Can’t you see that he can’t chase the ball when the opponent deposses him.

  2. With Giggs the major worry should be a burn-out because he’s getting on a bit. He needs to get a rest tomorrow, if he’s going to have the same impact he had on Wednesday against the Spaniards in the coming days. Fellaini’s output is a bit of a shock. He takes energy out of MU’s game, which means the team cannot press with him in the lineup. He’s also not a solid in breaking up play as once thought. For me, Cleverly will be more useful in CM for now, until the Belgian recovers from his lethary. He’s definitely out of his depths, and even out of sync with the team. Well, the best bet is to go shopping for better players during the winter window, if decent ones are available. Otherwise, there is enough cause to throw up our hands over the lost cause this season is looking to be. Not exactly a disaster for a team in transition.

  3. The title of this article made me gasp for air when I saw it. In a bad way. The best thing Ryan Giggs can do for Manchester united and himself is retire. Playing him is like plugging a massive hole in a sinking boat with duck tape. I mean did anyone else watch him flounder and kill us in the early games, especially against Liverpool? I’d rather promote an academy member and evolve the team not rely on a relic that the press praises when he has the odd decent game.

  4. Giggs is old and destined to get older. Short of someone discovering the elixir of youth, United have no choice but to look elsewhere.

    This is really all about the limitations of Fellaini and Moyes wasting 27 mill on a player who does little to solve United’s need for quality in midfield.

    Moyes has told Zaha that he needs to lift his game, his attitude, everything now that he is at United not Palace. I think Moyes needs to take his own advice and get rid of his cautious Everton-minded default position on tactics, team selection, substitutions and transfers.

  5. Yes Ryan Giggs is the answer to Uniteds midfield but for the oldboys team along with Ferdinand & Vidic.Youth has got to be given a chance.Forget winning anything this season it aint gonna happen.

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