Ryan Giggs: Manchester United legend could become Reds boss, says Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes believes a successful European Championship with Wales would make Ryan Giggs a contender to become Manchester United manager.

Hughes believes Giggs missed out on the job in 2016 because United wanted a big-name boss to rival Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola.

But he says the Wales manager, 46, is now better placed to take charge at Old Trafford.

“I think Ryan is in a good place in his management career,” Hughes said.

“He is on an upward trend. He is probably more likely to get an opportunity at Manchester United than he was when [Louis] van Gaal left [in 2016].

“Maybe they felt his management CV wasn’t strong enough at that point, but if he goes to the European Championship and does well, then there’s no reason why he won’t be in the frame.”

Giggs began building towards management after being named United player-coach at the back end of his glittering Red Devils playing career.

Having worked initially under David Moyes, Giggs served briefly as player-manager after the Scot’s sacking and was then made assistant to Van Gaal when he took over in 2014.

  • Ryan Giggs: Manchester United legend’s journey to Wales leadership

There were suggestions Giggs would take over when Van Gaal was dismissed, but he opted to leave the club after United turned instead to Jose Mourinho.

Giggs landed his first managerial role with Wales in 2018 and has steered his nation to Euro 2020, which will take place in 2021 because of coronavirus.

“He was a fantastic player throughout his career,” added former United striker Hughes, who managed Giggs when he was Wales boss.

“And he’s had good opportunities to learn the game on the other side of the fence.

“Obviously he was mentored by Sir Alex [Ferguson] for many years and in later years he was able to work alongside him. He then worked very closely with Van Gaal for a couple of years, which I felt was a good decision by him and the club.

“I thought that was with a view to him taking over the role when Van Gaal left. It wasn’t to be, they made the decision to go for a bigger name in terms of management – Mourinho.

“I think that was pushed maybe a little bit because of the appointment at Manchester City of Guardiola. Maybe they felt they needed like for like, which probably affected Ryan’s chances.”

‘He was always there for the big games’

Giggs, who won 64 caps over 16 years, has been criticised at times for showing a lack of commitment to Wales during his playing days.

But Hughes says Giggs’ value to United had an impact on his international career.

“There was a little bit of comment, shall I say, when he got the [Wales] job because people questioned his commitment to the Welsh cause,” Hughes said.

“But listen, he was in difficult circumstances and there was always a balance with his club at the time.

“Sir Alex was very strong and was very reluctant for any players – English, Irish, Welsh, wherever they came from – to leave on international duty unless they were key games.

“He wasn’t too happy with friendlies to say the least. But we got him for friendlies on occasions and he was always there for the big games, so his commitment was always there.”

Ryan Giggs celebrates after victory over Hungary in November 2019 booked Wales’ place at the third major finals in their history

Hughes feels Giggs’ efforts in the Welsh dugout have proved his desire to succeed with his country.

“When we qualified for the European Championship against Hungary, I was there and I thought Wales on the night were excellent,” he added.

“You started to see what Ryan was trying to do with the team, following Cookie [Chris Coleman], and I think he has grown into the role.

“You saw the delight on his face when Wales qualified that night. I think that endeared him to a lot of people and people understood that he has a real feeling for his country.”

Hughes, like Giggs, began his managerial career with Wales.

He has since managed Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke and most recently Southampton, who he left in December 2018.

Now 56, Hughes is eager to return to football.

“I haven’t retired yet,” he said. “People might assume I have, but I am available.

“I am open to opportunities whatever they are and wherever they are. I am at a stage of my life where I am not restricted really in terms of where I can go, it’s just that the world is restricted at the moment with this strange situation everyone finds themselves in terms of Covid.

“There are opportunities I have looked at and thought might be interesting but I haven’t pursued too many of them. I’ll know when an opportunity arises that it’s time to go back in.”

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Ryan Giggs: Manchester United legend could become Reds boss, says Mark Hughes

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