A combination of a stony countenance and a couple of throwaway comments from an old chum was all it took to spark speculation about Ryan Giggs’s future at Manchester United this week.
It all came before a match guaranteed to remind every United fan what a revered position Giggs holds at the club, with Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal prompting inevitable memories of when the Welshman scored what might just be the competition’s greatest goal.
The idea that the United icon could be pining for pastures new was aroused by assistant coach Giggs remaining granite-faced as his overjoyed boss Louis van Gaal turned to him to celebrate United’s late winner at Newcastle after another unconvincing performance.
With Giggs’s old United team mate Paul Scholes also suggesting on television that he could not see Giggs having the patience to remain as Van Gaal’s assistant for long, the inevitable result was conjecture in the British press that the 41-year-old is disenchanted with his Old Trafford lot.
“There’s no doubt, he had that little taste of it for the last three weeks of last year and he definitely wants to be a manager, you can see that,” Scholes said, reflecting on the brief spell Giggs enjoyed as interim boss at the end of last season.
Effectively suggesting Giggs may leave the club before the end of his three-year contract in 2017, he added: “Over the next two or three years, will he have the patience to be a number two for that long? I’m not sure he will.”
To Van Gaal, the media were just mischief-making.
“I’m very irritated because of this question because everyone can see we have a very good relationship,” he boomed in a news conference on Thursday.
Yet there are not many at Old Trafford who believe the old cavalier Giggs can be very enamoured with the caution that has underpinned the Van Gaal reign, despite United somehow grinding their way into the Premier League’s top four.
With an Arsenal Cup tie looming again, there will be inevitable nostalgic sighs about Giggs’s amazing, slaloming solo winner in the 1999 semi-final replay at Villa Park, which still stands as a symbol of United’s old elan and adventure.
Van Gaal? Most United followers could bear to see the back of his mundane fare. Giggs, though, is a different matter. Love will not tear them apart from him. (Editing by Ed Osmond)