Paul Parker

United too reliant on Giggs

Paul Parker

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Ryan Giggs
showed his enduring quality at the weekend with a match-winning substitute
appearance for Manchester United against Stoke, but United's reliance on him is
a little worrying.

Giggsy came
off the bench to set up both goals in a 2-0 win, and he - along with Wayne Rooney
- is one of the few truly creative players they have left after the departure
of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

The ball he
squared for Dimitar Berbatov was simple but exactly the sort of incisive play
United had been lacking; you could see how much Berbatov appreciated it because
he went straight over to Giggsy after scoring.

He is such
an intelligent player he has been able to adapt his play over the years to
account for his loss of pace. When I played with him early in his career, he
was the kind of player who you could knock balls over the top for and he would
chase anything.

But while
everyone marvelled at his pace and dribbling ability, he was always very
clever. He is extremely sharp both on and off the pitch; you need to be careful
when you are talking to him, because he will pick up on every little detail in
a conversation.

He has been
a great professional, and he knows how to get the best out of his body. He also
learned early in his career how to keep a low profile. It is not that he never
goes out and socialises, but he knows how to do it without thousands of
flashbulbs going off in his face.

It is great
for United that they can still call on a player of his ability, but also
worrying because he is nearly 36 and does not have too many miles left in the
tank. Sir Alex has rationed his performances in recent years, and on Saturday
he managed to make a decisive contribution in a little over half an hour.

For United
fans, it is a concern that they do not have another wide player even 50 per
cent as effective as Giggsy has been for nearly 20 years.

Nani was very
poor against Stoke. When you come up against a side like Stoke who get bodies
behind the ball, you want somebody with a cutting edge but Nani proved
completely ineffective. He is very hit and miss, and when he is not performing,
he can be pretty awful.

Likewise
Antonio Valencia didn't really do it. He will be given time to prove himself following
his summer move from Wigan, and at least he
has the weapon of extreme pace, but he doesn't really have a trick to beat a
player.

As a
defender, if you stand him up you know you can keep him quiet because he is
unlikely to beat you with skill - you don't always need to take the ball off
him. When you compare the wingers of today with those I played with, like Lee
Sharpe and Andrei Kanchelskis, the modern generation have maybe sacrificed some
skill in favour of pace and it doesn't always pay off.

- - -

John Terry has had a go at his team-mates for not pulling their weight in Chelsea's defeat against Wigan,
but he should have a look at himself.

For the
third Wigan goal, he was playing Casper
the Ghost as Maynor Figueroa went past him. All he could do was stand there and
look for somebody to blame.

It was a
real head-in-hands moment.

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