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Ryan Giggs: What next for Manchester United's man for all seasons?

Story highlights

  • Ryan Giggs' spell as interim Man Utd manager ends on Sunday
  • The Welshman replaced David Moyes after the Scot was sacked last month
  • The veteran midfielder has been in the United first team for 24 years
  • Giggs' playing contract expires at the end of the season

He is Manchester United's man for all seasons.

As a mainstay of the team that won 13 Premier League titles and two European Cups under retired manager Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs provides a vital link to United's illustrious recent past.

During 23 years with the Old Trafford club, he has continually reinvented himself to remain a key figure in English football's most successful team.

From a pacey winger in the early 1990s to a yoga-practicing 21st century professional, Giggs' status as a revered veteran of United's golden age made him the only logical choice to step into the managerial hotseat vacated prematurely by Ferguson's replacement David Moyes last month.

Giggs was appointed manager on an interim basis, his four-game spell in the dugout coming to an end with Sunday's trip to Southampton.

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The 40-year-old's playing contract also expires in June, meaning for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, the club could be absent from the life of Ryan.

Current Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal is the man expected to take control of United on a full-time basis, but whether the former Ajax boss will retain the services of Giggs as a player or a coach is unclear.

In a press conference last week Giggs hinted that, should Van Gaal arrive as is widely expected, he could pursue a coaching career at another club.

But for one former member of Ferguson's coaching staff, retaining the services of Giggs is essential if United are to bounce back from failing to qualify for the European Champions League for the first time since 1995.

"What's important is that Ryan stays at Old Trafford," Rene Meulensteen, who was Ferguson's assistant manager at United between 2007 and 2013, told CNN.

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Meulensteen, who was sacked as manager of Fulham in February, thinks Giggs is a figure of such stature within football that he could afford to skip a couple of rungs on the career ladder.

"I don't think he should go and manage a club in the Championship (English football's second tier), for example," he explained. "Ryan is an exception to that rule."

It is a common refrain within the game that great players don't necessarily make great coaches.

Argentine Diego Maradona, for example, is rated by many as the finest footballer of all time but as a coach he struggled in charge of his native Argentina.

A counter to such perceived wisdom is Maradona's compatriot Diego Simeone, who was well-regarded as a combative midfielder and is now on the brink of leading Atletico Madrid to a Champions League and Spanish title double.

"It would be a transition both for the club and Ryan but you have to give it time," said Meulensteen when asked if Giggs should be appointed on a full-time contract.

"Giving Ryan the job provides the chance to re-establish the Alex Ferguson dynasty. That is the only way to do it if the club wants to try that route.

"But if they go for Van Gaal, Ryan can learn from him."

By spending almost his entire playing career under Ferguson, Giggs had the opportunity to learn from a giant of the game.

The principles ingrained in Giggs by the ruthless Scot, who brought the curtain down on his own career in May 2013, could serve him well should he inherit his mentors old job in the near -- or distant -- future.

"All his life Ryan has shown he can manage his position on the playing field, but now he has to show he can manage everyone's position at the club," added Meulensteen, reflecting on Giggs' credentials.

"He has to decide what team to pick and what tactics to use -- he has to drop people that he has played with. But again I don't see him having a problem with that.

"Most important -- can he manage the training? Ferguson always stressed that what you do in training manifests itself in matches."

If what Giggs achieved as a player manifests itself during his coaching career, United fans could have a lot to look forward to.

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