Wales job would spell Old Trafford exit for Giggs
Ryan Giggs has been told he would have to quit United if he wants to take up his dream job as Wales manager. The 36-year-old is facing up to the biggest dilemma of his career with John Toshack expected to quit as Wales boss this week. Giggs is seen by many as the ideal man to take over and has already admitted that managing his country is as much a dream as succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at United one day. Just last month he spoke of life after his playing career is up, saying: My aim would be to manage either Manchester United or Wales. I don't think I'll know whether I'll cope with the aggravation until I've finished playing and say what do I do now?' Football is such a massive part of my life and to just stop in your late 30s and do nothing is tough. Even though there is so much stress involved, I think a lot of players become managers and really enjoy it. Toshack's six-year reign with Wales looks set to come to an end after Friday's 1-0 defeat to Montenegro. John Hartson has already thrown his hat into the ring to replace him but Giggs would almost certainly win the popular vote among supporters. A player-manager role, as so successfully carried out by Mark Hughes between 1999 and 2004, has already been mooted but it remains to be seen how Ferguson would react to that scenario. And Eric Harrison, who nurtured Giggs as a youth at United and was Hughes' No2 with Wales, believes the veteran winger faces an unbelievable and massive decision. Hughes' reign was one of the most successful in Wales' recent history and almost brought them their first qualification for a major championship since 1958. A Euro 2004 play-off defeat against Russia cost that history-making achievement. And Hughes was still playing for Everton and Blackburn while he combined his Welsh job. But Harrison doesn't believe Giggs should do the same. Ryan couldn't play for United and be the Wales manager, he said. It is not a cushy little number. You are at the sharp end of things and it is very, very difficult. It is not a part-time post. It is very much a full-time job. There is so much to do. I don't believe these days you could combine playing for a club at United's level and managing an international team. When I was with Mark we'd be jetting off all over the place watching future opponents. Then you'd be going up and down the country checking on your players. You couldn't be playing for United at the weekend and be wondering and worrying about how the Welsh players are doing. If the vacancy does come up and Ryan is approached, then I think he has a massive decision to make. It would be an unbelievable one to have to make. It is a big, big decision. Having worked with him for so many years since he was a young lad I know him more than most and, to be truthful, I wouldn't know what he'd do. He is a Welshman and he is very, very passionate about his country, believe me. But he is also playing as well as he ever has for United. I know he still wants to play. He is thinking he can play another couple of seasons and win more trophies. He is still hungry enough, fit enough and good enough. To give that up would be an incredible dilemma for him. Hughes was a rookie manager, and still playing at 35, when he took charge of Wales, initially on a temporary basis, 11 years ago. Harrison believes Giggs, who is currently taking his coaching badges, has the potential to emulate Sparky. Ryan certainly has the credentials and having no coaching or managerial experience wouldn't hamper him, he added. I know Mark said it at the time and he still says it to this day that taking the Welsh job at that time in his career was the best thing he ever did. People complained initially that nobody should be in charge of an international team as their first job. But he proved them wrong and it has made him the manager he is now. That education has helped him. You certainly get thrown in at the deep end because there are so many problems at international level. On a Saturday evening you are counting players in and taking calls from those who've pulled out. You have to be up-to-date on opponents all around the world and be ready with your tactics. That is paramount. You cannot turn up to play someone and not have a clue about them. Mark introduced a great idea whereby if someone like Ryan was playing against an unknown opponent he'd have videos of that player and Ryan would have to sit down and watch it. There is so much to plan and so much to go wrong. It can be done though as Mark Hughes showed. Ryan would have the right attitude to cope. He studies football in depth. You can be in conversation with him and if an unknown name crops up he will know all about that player. He is also very, very tough mentally. He is as solid as a rock. You have to be tough to be a manager. Look at Sir Alex Ferguson he is made of granite. Being a boss is ten times harder than being a top player and people might think because Ryan is quiet then he'd be too soft for the job. But believe me he is not. He is as tough as nails. He'd also command tremendous respect. Speak to thousands of Welsh people and his name would be on the top of their list if John Toshack goes. Their eyes light up when you talk about him. I loved my time at Wales and the country is very close to me. If Ryan is approached it would be a tug of war for me. I am very fond of Wales, but I am fonder of United and I still want Ryan to play for United.
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