Giggs: Red Devils keen to strengthen spine with star names

Manchester United assistant Ryan Giggs says the club are keen to strengthen the spine of the team.

Matthew Peters

Ryan Giggs says Manchester United are keen to add heavyweight names to the spine of their team in a bid to regain their place at the top of English football this season.

Welshman Giggs, assistant to Louis van Gaal, agrees with the manager’s assertion that United are close to competing for the top honors again after two lean campaigns following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

United’s record appearance holder told the Sunday Times that it was vital they strengthened in the middle of the park and added star names to the squad, if possible.

Newspaper reports have linked the Red Devils with moves for World Cup winners Sergio Ramos and Bastian Schweinsteiger, while Sky sources understand that United are in talks with Southampton over a move for Morgan Schneiderlin.

But Giggs insisted that if United were to compete for major honors again they would need to be more consistent than last season.

He said: “If there are players available who are winners, who are proven, then, yeah, let’s go and get them.

“And with any good team the spine is important. Midfield, striker, center-backs, goalkeeper. I’m sure we’ll be looking to strengthen the spine all the way through.

“We obviously need to strengthen because we were fourth. We weren’t first, second or third. And the teams above us will strengthen, too. There’s the added challenge of the Champions League, and we need players that are going to improve us.

“But we’re not too far away. We had a great record last season in the big games and the problem was the consistency. We dropped points we shouldn’t have and got off to a bad start. We drew a lot of games away from home against teams we should have been beating.

“You tot up the games you think you should have won and think, ‘Yeah, we should have been much closer’ – but you have to go out and do it, and in the Premier League that’s not easy.”


Giggs served as caretaker boss at Old Trafford after David Moyes left the club in April 2014.

Retiring after a highly decorated career in which he won 24 major trophies as a United player, the 41-year-old has since taken over as van Gaal’s assistant.

As a result, the days of turning up for training as a player and focusing purely on the session ahead of him are gone.

“With coaching you’re in at eight o’clock and you leave at five, and after that you’re at home still thinking about it.

“You turn on the TV and instead of just relaxing in front of a game, you’re watching it for different things, looking for things coaches may have worked on, or different details. Basically you don’t switch off.

“On holiday I was still on the phone to the manager and Albert (Stuivenberg, van Gaal’s other assistant) about players coming in and plans for the new season.

“After a defeat, as a player you basically just analyze yourself. How did I do? But as a coach you’re thinking about the whole thing: ‘Should we have made that substitution? Did we pick the right team? Did we train them too hard?’ But this is what I want. Just as much as when I was a player, I’m excited about a new season starting.”

And he has enjoyed working under former Barcelona and Ajax coach van Gaal, adding to everything he had learned previously under Sir Alex Ferguson.


“It was nothing new in terms of the detail, the hunger, the professionalism, the experience. I’d seen the same with Sir Alex.

“But there were little innovations that you’re seeing for the first time as a coach, where you thought ‘that’s brilliant.’ And just the overall experience. Especially in the big games.

“You saw someone who wasn’t afraid – or who didn’t show it – and showed what he can do tactically, and in his overall leadership. Everyone at the club – the staff, the players –know who the leader is. And that’s Louis.”

Giggs also said fans at Old Trafford will take to the club’s newest addition Memphis Depay, labeling him as a ‘United type’.

Bought from PSV Eindhoven for £25m, United fans will be hoping that Depay will prove to be an exciting player in the mould of Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo – a match-winning winger.

Giggs said: “(Depay) is the type Old Trafford will warm to. He’s an exciting player, but there’s also substance behind it. He was top scorer in the Dutch league and got plenty of assists as well. He’s a ‘United’ type. Our fans demand exciting players, players who can get them off their seats and score spectacular goals.

“One thing we probably have lacked since Cristiano – and Becks (David Beckham) before him – is free-kicks. And it looks like Depay has a great track record from free-kicks as well. Over a season, if you can score more from free-kicks and corners it adds up and makes a real difference in winning games. So, no pressure…but hopefully he’ll score 10 free-kicks every year.

“Old Trafford is the right stage for a player like him,” said Giggs. “Because if you try things that don’t come off the fans will stay behind you. You’re at a club where they want you to do things off the cuff, to entertain them.”