COVER UP: Former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs posing for a photograph with Rory Price of Hà Nội’s New York Sports Bar. Photo: New York Sports Bar
By Paul Kennedy
Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs was in Việt Nam over the weekend, his second visit this year.
I know this because on Sunday my Facebook blew up with photographs of friends of mine with Ryan at various spots in Hà Nội.
One particular picture stood out from the rest. It showed the current Wales manager outside New York Sports Bar on Bà Triệu posing with Rory Price, the bar’s general manager.
At first glance it was a pretty innocuous snap, but on closer inspection, you can see Giggs has his hand on Rory’s chest covering the emblem on his shirt.
Why? Simple, Rory’s a Liverpool FC supporter and Giggs rightly so, hates Liverpool.
A bit of fun? Maybe, but it also proved to me how Ryan Giggs will be Manchester United through and through until the day he dies.
How many of current team who were beaten on Sunday by West Ham can say the same? I’ll give you a clue, the answer is none.
United on Sunday were nothing short of appalling. They have been for ages, but Sunday’s gutless effort was diabolical.
Sure, they were missing Paul Pogba, but he’s far more miss than hit and is desperate to leave, and the same can be said for another absentee, Anthony Martial, who for me always has a look on his face like he has just spotted a friend who owes him money.
Seeing Giggs happily posing for pictures after United’s dire display, made me think of the brilliant United team he played with. In fact let’s get things straight here, Giggs didn’t play for a brilliant United team, he was part of a brilliant United generation.
And right now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad are years away from emulating, or even getting close, to the United of days gone by.
From the mid-1990s Manchester United were a well-oiled machine being driving to the ends of the earth by Sir Alex Ferguson, crushing everyone in their path.
They were completely ruthless, and now, they are just spineless.
Sure, there were blips along the way and they faced tough competition from first Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal and later from Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, but on the whole United are the greatest team of the last 20 years, just like Liverpool were 20 years before then.
Liverpool aretop the table right now, and are Champions of Europe. They are not just 10 points ahead of United, but a gigantic chasm in front of their north west rival.
So how do United turn the corner? How do they get back to where they once where? How do they get back onto the perch they’ve clearly been knocked off?
The answer is they won’t. Or at least they won’t for a very long time.
Judging by the weekend performance they are miles away from breaking into the top four and the closest they’ll ever get to the Champions League is by visiting the Etihad Stadium on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening.
They are worse now than they were when Mourinho was the manager. Worse than when Louis van Gaal was the manager and worse than when David Moyes was the manager.
United fans sing: “Ole’s at the wheel, how good does it feel?”
Well on Sunday they for sure were not feeling good by any stretch of the imagination.
Solskjaer was a fantastic player, a legendary striker at Old Trafford but as far as managing the club goes, the wheels have fallen off.
Next week they play Arsenal, then a trip to Newcastle, followed by a home match against Liverpool.
Even if they win all three, which they won’t, it will not be enough.
The club needs an overhaul. It needs a new coach, new players, new backroom staff and, after listening to United fans, new owners and a new board.
They are exactly what Liverpool were in the early 90s. A spent force clinging on to past glories.
They need players who care more about the club than they do about their newly formed fashion brands or social media followers.
The need players like Ryan Giggs, an entire squad of them. And that will take years to find. VNS