Dazzling winger, loyal servant and freak of nature are just some of the endearing terms used to describe Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and now we can add puzzle-solver to his lengthy list of accolades.
Facing the ignominy of Champions League oblivion at the hands of Olympiacos, David Moyes turned to the 40-year-old midfielder to provide leadership and inspiration and he wasn’t let down on either front as United went on to turn the tie on its head.
That 3-0 win has thrust United into the last eight where they have to settle for outsiders’ status to win the competition at 18/1 ahead of the draw, but just being there is sweet enough for Red Devils fans.
Relief all around then for United and especially for their entrenched manager Moyes, but in deploying Giggs in a central midfield role the Scot has not only seen his side progress in Europe, he looks to have answered a massive question moving forward.
Moyes has struggled to find the right blend in his team all season and especially since record signing Juan Mata arrived, whose preferred position is the role already occupied by Wayne Rooney, while out wide he has neither the pace nor the work rate to be effective.
With the Spaniard cup tied though, Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor should now be encouraged that Mata’s long-term position has to be as part of a central midfield two.
Giggs laid down the marker by seamlessly turning defence into attack with his wand of a left foot, spraying balls forward, and Mata certainly has similar attributes to slot in alongside a Michael Carrick in future.
In turn, this not only releases Rooney to roam around in the space behind Robin van Persie, but has the domino effect of allowing Danny Welbeck to operate from a wider position.
Welbeck’s powerful, pacey performance, showed United fans exactly what they had been missing in terms of getting at defenders, with Antonio Valencia providing a similar threat from the opposite flank.
If Moyes can train Mata to follow Giggs’ shining example then United will be a major threat on all fronts once more.
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