MANCHESTER // Ryan Giggs said he was not ready to be Manchester United manager when he took over at Old Trafford following David Moyes's dismissal in April.
Asked what he learnt from a management perspective from his four games as caretaker at the end of last season, Giggs said: “I learnt that I wasn’t ready. In this job you need experience.
“Everything else wasn’t a problem – the staff, the training, the press. There were areas where I thought I’d struggle and I didn’t – like dealing with the media.
“What I did learn was to play your best team. It was difficult for me because I was still a player and I wanted to give everyone a chance.
“The first thing I said to the players was ‘I think you’re all good players and I’m going to give all of you a chance’. I was probably a little bit too loyal.”
Giggs, 40, awarded debuts to youngsters James Wilson and Tom Lawrence.
He also played the final of 963 games in a United shirt and, during his month in charge, decided to retire from playing.
“I’ve not missed it as much as I thought I would,” United’s assistant manager said in an interview to mark the 25th anniversary of the United We Stand fanzine.
“Even though there have been times where I’ve wanted to join in training, I’ve not wanted to play the games.”
He did, though, admit to the occasional relapse.
“A little bit at Burnley [in August],” he said. “I came out of the tunnel where the away fans were. It looked like a good atmosphere.
“But the most was the build-up in the week before Chelsea [two weeks ago]. It was the first really big game of the season and part of me wanted to play. That said, I’ve always been one who tries to look forward, not back.”
Giggs still joins in with training when there are injuries to other players and jokes that he has still got what it takes, but it is his chemistry and relationship with his manager Louis van Gaal that is decisive to United’s future.
Describing his first meeting in the Netherlands in the close season, Giggs said: “I was surprised, which I shouldn’t be, about how charismatic he was. From the outside you have one image of what he’s like, but instantly he had a sense of humour and charisma, which had me laughing after two or three minutes.”
Van Gaal has entrusted his assistant with key roles. Like Jose Mourinho before him at Barcelona, Van Gaal asks Giggs to scout opponents and to prepare detailed video analysis.
Asked to describe what his new role entails, Giggs said: “Lots, mostly based around training and our opponents. The manager has given me a lot of responsibility. I set up training. Then, if there are two teams then I’ll coach one and Albert [fellow coach Stuivenberg] the other, with the manager going between us and having the final say. I’ll analyse the opposition and present that analysis to the players.”
Giggs has his Uefa Pro Licence, which allows him to manage on a permanent basis in the top division of any league in Europe.
He completed the course while he was still playing and found it testing.
“The biggest thing was my ability to take myself out of my comfort zone,” he said.
“You had different personalities there – people who’d been coaching for years. They were all comfortable speaking and coaching, but less comfortable in other areas – they hadn’t done a lot of press work for example. I was fine doing the press work and speaking in a group.
“I felt like I was challenging myself and it wasn’t nice. In the last session we did during the World Cup, four of us had to prepare as if for the Ghana v Portugal match and decide how we were going to play.
“We did video analysis and clips. Two had to debrief, two had to do a coaching session microphoned up and videoed with some young kids. I’ve not done a lot of coaching, but I volunteered to coach. I took myself out of the comfort zone.
“I then started setting the cones up and I was thinking ‘why have I chosen to do this bit?’ I made mistakes, but I learnt from it.”
Giggs is now coaching for real and for much higher stakes.
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