Giggs keeping options open

Southampton 1 Manchester United 1

Giggs keeping options open

The Welshman presided over the Red Devils’ draw against Southampton yesterday, which confirmed the club’s lowest Premier League finishing position of seventh and no European football next term.

Giggs did not name himself on the substitutes bench for the trip to St Mary’s and quite possibly made the last of his 963 appearances for the club against Hull City in mid-week.

In his four matches in charge, Giggs’ record is mixed with two wins, a draw and one defeat, and the 40-year-old revealed he is keeping all options open over what happens next.

“The managerial situation will be sorted in the next week and I need to think about what I will do.

“My options are whether to play on or not, to stay in a position in the staff, what that’s going to be. Or whether I just take a year out from football, these are all options. These are the decisions I’ve got to make.

“I’ve been quite open, I’ll look at everything but I might have to do that quick if the new manager is appointed.”

Giggs also paid tribute to the club’s supporters and admitted he has enjoyed the different challenges of management.

“It has been a whirlwind three weeks but I have loved every minute of it. It’s been a great experience.”

Louis van Gaal, the Dutch manager who will coach his country at the World Cup in Brazil, is the overwhelming favourite to take over the Old Trafford hot seat on a permanent basis this summer.

The 62-year-old’s track record is impressive but even a manager of his standing in the game is likely to require a period of transition in a new role, given that he has managed virtually everywhere in Europe but England.

If Van Gaal is appointed to repair and rebuild the damage following a disastrous season, in which the Manchester club lost a record amount of games (12) in the Premier League, then he faces two major challenges.

As David Moyes found out, and in the end at a cost, changing the dynamic and personnel of the backroom team to your preferences and moving on long-term, established coaching staff, does not appease most players.

The majority of Moyes’ right-hand men exited Old Trafford following the Scot’s trail, bar goalkeeping coach Chris Woods and Phil Neville.

The four men from the Class of ’92, including Neville, were charged with winning back some pride, and to an extent, they have.

It is likely van Gaal would want to bring one or two of his tried and tested coaches with him to Manchester, but it would be difficult for him to break-up the current coaching core, all of whom are Manchester United through to the bone.

The favourable option for all parties would be for Giggs to operate in a four-pronged coaching role alongside Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. Van Gaal would then lead the quartet as manager and possibly mould Giggs into his successor.

Van Gaal is very much a man-manager and prefers to orchestrate full control over his teams, so it would be no surprise to anyone if he restructured the coaching staff to his own desires.

Apart from confirming who will take over the reigns next season, a decision Alex Ferguson is likely to be heavily involved in, the future of a sizeable chunk of the club’s playing staff is also a big problem.

Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra — three players who have been the backbone of united’s defence for several years, are all out of contract and almost certain to move on.

Add to those names; Ashley Young, Nani, Javier Hernandez and others too, and it could be a revolving exit door at Old Trafford.

However, it should not be forgotten that there is of course a lot of talent within the Manchester United ranks, including £37m man Juan Mata whose stunning second-half equaliser cancelled out Rickie Lambert’s opener, but for most fans and pundits alike, it has been the manner of the team’s abject displays and defeats this season which is clear evidence that these players have not performed.

Last summer was very big for the club with Moyes beginning a new era and replacing Ferguson, but this coming pre-season is even more vital to the direction of Manchester United, and Giggs and Van Gaal are at the centre of the decisions which have to be made.

Meanwhile, Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed he will sit down with the club’s board today to discuss his own future at the club.

SOUTHAMPTON 4-2-3-1: Boruc 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 6, Lovren 7, Shaw 6 (Chambers 80), Wanyama 5, Cork 6 (Gallagher 60), Schneiderlin 6, Davis 7, Lallana 7 (Ward-Prowse 69), Lambert 8.

MANCHESTER UNITED 4-2-3-1: De Gea 6; Smalling 6, Ferdinand 5, Vidic 6, Evra 7; Januzaj 7, Fletcher 6, Kagawa 4 (Carrick 45), Welbeck 6; Mata 7 (Valencia 89); van Persie 5 (Hernandez 68).

Referee: Mike Dean.

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