Ryan Giggs will bring flair back to Manchester United... for four games at least
Published 23/04/2014 | 15:20
It was the 20th anniversary celebration dinner for the George Best Manchester United Carryduff Supporters Club.
Sir Alex Ferguson could not attend but such was the great Scot's relationship with the Carryduff club that he made a point of personally sending representatives from Old Trafford in his place. Call them the Chosen Ones if you wish.
They were Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
It was March 2011 and the Europa Hotel sounded like the Stretford End when the illustrious trio were introduced to the 450 strong crowd, high on the fact that Ferguson was about to lead the Red Devils to another Premier League title.
Scholes was, as you might expect, quiet as a mouse. He seemed to enjoy the jokes of John Linehan, aka May McFetteridge, sat beside him but most of the time appeared as uncomfortable in this public setting as he was comfortable on a football pitch.
Neville was not quiet. Never has been in his whole life and he wasn't going to change in a room full of vociferous and well lubricated Ulster folk. He was the only one of the three to address the audience and just before they wandered around the 40 full tables to have group pictures taken, he instructed the photographer on the best way to do it!
That night Neville stated that the reason Ferguson continued to get the best out of his players after so many years in charge was because they feared him.
A clue there as to why David Moyes was not a hit at Old Trafford... most of the players at the club didn't respect the man who had arrived from Everton, with no trophies under his belt, let alone fear him.
Then there was Giggs, more talkative than Scholes, but not as opinionated as Neville, and with a wicked sense of humour.
Besieged by autograph hunters for most of the night, one bloke, with a few shandies in him, ventured to the top table inviting Giggs to speak to his son on his mobile phone, insisting that the Welshman was his little lad's favourite player.
Like a pass landing at his feet, Giggs took the request in his stride and the phone in his hand, telling the kid he was speaking to Gary Neville before quickly adding 'Sorry to disappoint you!' Laughs all round.
Now that Giggs has taken over on a temporary basis from the departed Moyes, he could do with bringing some of that fun into the Manchester United dressing room.
There have been precious few smiles since United's players collected their title medals last May as Fergie waved farewell, with Moyes presiding over an embarrassing and humiliating campaign.
United's underperforming players must take a share of the blame for what has gone on under Moyes this term, but the manager's often cautious, curious and confusing tactics and selections did not help, one of which was to use the Welsh wizard, with still much to offer, so sparingly.
There was talk of a fall-out between Moyes and Giggs, on the coaching and playing staff. That suggestion has not done Giggs any harm this week. If anything it might have helped the 40-year-old when asked to take over from Moyes, sacked less than 12 months into his six year deal.
The Red Devils are used to playing with freedom... and one senses that with Moyes out and Giggs in, they will feel liberated and might just end this horrendous season with four wins on the trot. The shackles will come off starting at home to Norwich on Saturday.
Whether such a run would be enough to land Giggs, who made his United league debut in 1991 and is the most decorated player in the club's history, the manager's job on a full-time basis remains to be seen.
What is certain though, unlike Moyes, Giggs knows what it takes to succeed at Old Trafford and already has the respect of the players.