Unless you have been living under a rock for the last month, you will know all about Ryan Giggs’ string of affairs with ex-Big Brother “star” Imogen Thomas and his sister-in-law Natasha Giggs.
I’m not going to go on about the details of the story (the tabloids and the Daily Mail have done the story to death over the last few weeks), but am instead going to pose the question: will Giggs come back stronger than ever and restore his soiled reputation, or will he end his career with a whimper?
The papers have had a field day with the Giggs situation, and seem intent on dragging his name through the mud and finding out every detail about his private life. Why else would the Daily Star feature 14 front covers in a row with a Giggs-related story?
Combine this with record levels of activity on Twitter and Facebook over the last month, as millions of people tried to find out about Giggs and the super-injunction, then the midfielder is clearly the most notorious footballer in England right now.
Part of this is down to Giggs, as the papers seem to have launched a personal vendetta against him, primarily because of the whole super-injunction debacle, as they were not allowed to publish the story for weeks.
If Giggs had just come clean and let the papers print the original story, then the situation would have probably blown over by now and he wouldn’t have had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to hush it all up, when the truth was bound to come out eventually.
You can understand why he did it, as he wanted to protect his image and his family, but the papers don’t see it that way and have used the affairs to mercilessly attack Giggs and his image.
All that intrusion and focus on a player’s private life has got to take its toll, as it has done with numerous other footballers. Wayne Rooney struggled for form last September when the news of his affair broke, which was just before he announced he wanted to leave the club.
I know it’s a different sport, but Tiger Woods hasn’t been the same player since his infidelity was revealed. Ashley Cole may be the exception to the rule, but then again he’s so used to scandal, he just gets used to it and takes his problems out on the nearest work experience boy.
One person who isn’t keen on all the speculation surrounding a player’s private life is Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex has said time and time again that no player is bigger than the club, and when their private life overshadows their performances on the pitch (David Beckham was the prime example), they are usually on their way out.
In a recent interview with the LMA (League Managers Association), Fergie said:
“You can’t get sentimental in this job. I love the players I’ve had. I’ve been very, very fortunate to have had great players. And I’ve been very fortunate to have had players come through with me for a long, long time.
“But when I see something happening I have to act… My job is to manage Manchester United. My job is to produce results.”
Ferguson was actually talking about selling Phil Neville and Nicky Butt in that interview, but could the same method apply to Giggs next season? Now I don’t think Giggs will be leaving as he will end his career with United, but if Sir Alex sees that Giggs’ head is not in the right place, will he drop him?
While his family-man image may be shattered, Giggs will still be seen as a legend at Old Trafford, because of his excellent performances and commitment to the club over the last 20 years, and no matter how many stories are written about him that will not change – he will still go down as one of the greatest United players ever.
While he is certainly going to get lots of abuse from opposing fans next season, the best thing Giggs can do is focus on his football, try and put all of his problems behind him and perform on the pitch for United next season. As a consummate professional and a proven winner, there’s no reason why he can’t put it all behind him next season and lead United to their 20th league title.
At 37, this will likely be Giggs’ last season at Old Trafford before he retires and after a few good performances, people will start to forget about all the bad press and start focusing on the good performances.
And that’s what Giggs deserves: to be remembered for his contributions on the pitch and not for his private life.
Follow Tom Jinks on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tomjinks