Giggs keen to retain his focus

Giggs has spent weeks being on the wrong end of lurid headlines

about his private life, having gone to great lengths to try and

keep such stories out of the mainstream media. Generally regarded

as the most professional of players for the better part of two

decades, the veteran Welshman’s tepid performance in the Champions

League final defeat to Barcelona in May was blamed by some on the

off-field distractions. Having accepted Sir Alex Ferguson’s offer

of a one-year contract extension, unlike old friend Paul Scholes

and Edwin van der Sar, who have both opted for retirement, Giggs

finds himself in the rather bizarre position of boasting a record

12 Premier League title medals but still having something to prove.

The 37-year-old will not be under the spotlight until next week,

when United head to the United States for a 20-day, five-match tour

that is likely to include a meeting against an MLS All-Star team

containing old friend David Beckham at the Red Bull Arena on July

27. However, before plunging Giggs into the Premier League opener

at West Brom on August 13, or even the Community Shield clash with

Manchester City at Wembley six days earlier, Ferguson will need to

be certain a player he has trusted for so long is in the correct

frame of mind. Like a number of his team-mates, Giggs only had

medical assessments today and will not start training properly

until Wednesday. It did offer a first opportunity to meet Ashley

Young, the only one of Giggs’ three new team-mates present as Phil

Jones and David de Gea have both been granted extra time off due to

their presence at the recently-completed European Under-21

Championships. There were other, more familiar, faces present,

including Wes Brown, Darron Gibson and John O’Shea. How long they

will remain part of the Old Trafford picture remains uncertain. The

trio were all wanted by Sunderland earlier in the summer, whilst

Stoke and Newcastle are also said to have made inquiries and it

would appear only a matter of time before their respective United

careers, which in Brown and O’Shea’s cases extend to 361 and 393

matches respectively, come to an end.