City’s formidable trip to Premier League champions-in-waiting Manchester United gained an extra dimension this morning after United announced a new, one-year deal for their ever-green winger, Ryan Giggs.
It was the Giggs-Scholes double act that ruined Paul Lambert’s day last season as the 39-year-old Welsh international continued to roll back the years and grabbed that last-gasp winner for the Manchester giants.
Should he take any part in this weekend’s game, it will also be his 1,000th career appearance for the Reds.
For today’s deal will see Giggs complete his 23rd full season as a professional football with Manchester United – an extraordinary achievement by any standards. Let alone by the standards of today’s modern professional footballer, given both the sheer physical demands and the off-field rewards and distractions that the profession brings.
Sir Alex Ferguson paid fulsome tribute to the player this morning as the latest deal of Giggs’ long and illustrious career was announced – an Old Trafford full-house will, no doubt, do the same tomorrow afternoon. They already had that 1,000th appearance to salute.
“What can I say about Ryan that hasn’t already been said?” said Sir Alex, as United continued to close in on the title.
“He is a marvellous player and an exceptional human being. Ryan is an example to us all, the way in which he has, and continues to, look after himself,” he added. “He has fantastic energy for the game and it is wonderful to see.
“Ryan seems to reach a new milestone every week and to think that he now has 23 unbroken years of league goals behind him is truly amazing in the modern-day game.”
United have the small matter of a Champions League clash with Real Madrid to contend with on Tuesday night; tickets for that game were today reported to be exchanging hands for up to £1,000 apiece.
Having played – and scored – in United’s last outing, the 2-0 away win over a near-doomed QPR, Giggs could well feature again tomorrow. Scholes is, however, not expected to feature.
“His form this year shows his ability and his enjoyment of the game are as strong as ever and I am absolutely delighted that he has signed a new contract,” added Sir Alex.
Rather closer to home, City boss Chris Hughton will decide whether or not to hand man of the moment Kei Kamara his first start in a Canary shirt after last weekend’s second-half heroics against Everton.
He was also aware of the Giggs story. One that shows little sign of ending in the near future.
“Any spotlight on him, being the individual he is he’ll probably take it in his stride,” Hughton told the club’s official website ahead of this weekend’s testing trip north. “Being the person that he is he probably won’t want too much of the focus being on him. But he deserves it.
“Players often come and go and dip in and out of form, but he is a player who has maintained that throughout the years and at his age he is the best example for any young player to look up to.
“He’s looked after himself, very, very well and if anything he’s probably a better all-round player now than perhaps he was ten years ago.”
One player still out of Hughton’s thinking is midfielder Alexander Tettey, who is still nursing a knee problem.
“Alex has just got a slight knee problem and he will miss the weekend,” said Hughton, “It’s one that we’ve just decided is best to just rest for a few weeks,” Hughton revealed.
“It’s one we’ll assess next week, see how he can train but he’ll certainly miss the trip to Manchester United. It’s not a major one, it’s just one we have to make sure we get right.”