Date: 30th November 2010 at 6:00pm
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Having celebrated his 37th birthday yesterday, I was reminded of a ‘conversation’ I had with some people on Twitter last week in regards to Ryan Giggs.

Surely a legend in the eyes of all including those that do not support United, Ryan Giggs’ career has been exemplary. Having made his Unite bow in 1991 aged 17, Giggs has won numerous League titles, FA Cups and European Cups amongst other things. When he first emerged, he was highly touted and people spoke of him as the hottest talent to come out of Britain since George Best but has he lived up to that expectation?

Sounds like a crazy question given all he has won and achieved but through the course of the conversation a few good points were raised:

But despite this latest run of form, Giggs will always be a conundrum who never quite met his Harvey Freeman. An indisputable great, a player who epitomises the youthful flair and aesthetic beauty that make United United, he’s also the most frustrating I’ve ever known and loved.

The other very best players of my United-watching career – Robson, Keane, Cantona, Schmeichel, Scholes, van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo – were all far more consistent, and generally played with greater intensity when things were going badly. And each one, with the exception of Scholes, carried the team for significant periods of time – something Giggs has never done.

To an extent he’s a victim of his position; it’s hard to dominate a game from the wing, and it’s hard to play well if you’re reliant on service, though others have managed. But the unarsed body language, the bottled one-on-one in the 2003 home derby (a personal grudge), and the 2004-6 vanishing act remain severe and genuine charges.

To borrow Fergie’s phrase, pinched from Paddy Crerand, a discussion of his time in the shirt can leave you with blood as twisted as those who endured the horror of marking him on a good day; not so of the others with whom he shares the pantheon. Judging him by his own stratospheric standards, any honest evaluation of his career leaves you wondering why he hasn’t been brilliant more often.

And yet he’s still close to the very top category. At his best, he’s still the best, and it’s sad to think that one day there’ll be a United without him.

Reading that, some people will take the point being made the wrong way but I personally don’t think that it is so much a criticism rather a praise of a supremely talented player. If Giggs was not as talented as we know he is, then such questions could not be asked.

You will be hard pressed to find anyone who can disagree with the point about his influence in comparison to players like van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo, Cantona etc as well as the point about being able to influence a game properly from the wing but it cannot be denied how much of a contribution Giggs has actually made and one thing I feel that perhaps wasn’t taken into consideration is how much the hamstring injuries hindered him.

Reading his latest book it gives you a real insight into the problem which first popped up in 1995 and by his own admission would trouble him at least twice a season. Whilst he has found a number of things to help alleviate the problem (Giggsy is a yoga guru didn’t you know!?), it has  still been a problem and one that struck him before he even had a chance to enter his peak years.

Speaking to The Guardian ahead of Ryan winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award his brother Rhodri revealed,

I don’t think many people know that from about 2002-03, because he was having problems with his hamstrings, Ryan stopped going flat out. He’s not even been flat out for the last seven or eight years.

an astounding claim that again puts the situation into perspective.

I personally think that Giggs has been and is an astounding player but you can’t deny some of the points made above, if Giggs hasn’t soared to the heights that were expected of him it can be forgiven, his contribution without reaching these heights is still a lot better than many if not most who will ever lace boots and we can only wonder what a Ryan Giggs without bad hamstrings would have brought to the table.


24 responses to “Can Giggs be mentioned in the same breath as Cantona and Robbo?”

  1. catcool07 says:

    this is the stupidest article ive ever read…………Ryan Giggs is a Man Utd Institution and one the greatest footballers to have ever played the game! FACT

    • Chudi says:

      one of the stupidest articles not article, doesn’t bare well calling someone or something stupid then making a mistake like that!

      Whilst I see what point is being made, you can’t question Giggs. He has been tremendous, not every player will turn out like Messi and the reason he may not have carried the team like some of the players that were mentioned is because they were actually in the team!

  2. andy says:

    gave up reading about halfway down, not sure why i even read that far though.

  3. enzo133 says:

    Fucking retard

  4. best fan of SIR RYAN GIGGS says:

    one of the best players of all times 4 us! loyalty cannot be bought! players like gigssy scholesy are real gems! hats of SIR RYAN GIGGS! u’ll always have a special place in my heart legend! hats off 2 u 4 all u’ve achieved! one of the gr8est players of all time! how we would love that u would be 10 years younger! nistelrooy ronaldo and even becks are nothing compared 2 u! gr8 aticle! 🙂

  5. best fan of SIR RYAN GIGGS says:

    now that should have been an article! questioning giggs? retard!

  6. Hugo says:

    Giggs is a Utd legend.

    The only thing which doesnt make him more so (which is anything BUT his own fault) is that his International career was never great (due to the average Wales team which he played with).

    Ronaldo had his strops and allowed games to pass him by also – without even going into the rolling around and diving which was also his curse.

    Cantona was great also but the kung-fu kick will always take away an element of his greatness for me.

    On or off the pitch Giggs has never done anything to make Utd (or himself) look bad, something which very few on that list could match upto.

    Giggs will always be a legend – and well deserved.

  7. Giggs11god says:

    3 thing to say: GIGGS 11 GOD

  8. Javier says:

    Retarded. Of course it has to be talked with the same breath as the best players the world has had, not to mention United’s.

    Crazy article, what a waste of time reading it just to be worth by writing this and all of our opinions.

  9. jonathan says:

    I think you’ve (and your source) raised pretty good points, but I’d have disagree as that understanding of greatness as it relies on individual feats. For whatever Giggs may have lacked, his longevity and accomplishments over 2 decades if virtually unrivaled and atones for supposed shortcomings.

    So he was quiet from 04-06, well most players would’ve retired by then. He came back to win MVP after all that. Though no fault of his own, Van Basten retired in his mid 20’s – should that be held against him? Best and Maradonna squandered several great years left to substance abuse.

    I guess what I’m saying is with very little exception, most of the game’s greats have some type of blemish on their record. However, most of them have unique characteristcs to be remembered by. Individual greatness may not be the hallmark of Giggs’ legacy (though that is included for a few seasons), but to be instrumental in winning consistenly over 2 decades surely places him right alongside others in the pantheon of football greats.

  10. best fan of SIR RYAN GIGGS says:

    and for some people to even question giggs’ greatness!? :S wat a shame! just thing wat would have been utd without giggs! people often talk of maradona’s goal against england but wat about giggs’ goal again arsenal in the 1999 semi final! even maradonal would be proud of that one! 🙂