While Swans fans trust their chairman, few would support becoming a stepping stone for Giggs’ ultimate return to Manchester United
30 September ~ OK, other managerial matters have rather submerged it, and it may never happen. But talk of Francesco Guidolin being replaced at Swansea by Ryan Giggs has moved rather beyond the “linked with” lowest common denominator of press gossip.
As one well-informed fan commented after last week’s defeat by Manchester City: “Something is going on.” And it is a story the club has seen before – veteran Cardiff native steeped in English football’s dominant club culture moves west to manage the Swans.
For John Toshack in 1978, read Ryan Giggs now? Reasons to doubt it extend beyond the panic, suggesting a worrying loss of confidence in the club’s underlying culture, evident in the Swans appearing to sound out potential new bosses only half a dozen games into the season.
A Welsh football giant Giggs may be, but that commitment to Wales has always had an element of the conditional. Yes to lucrative Nike ads playing on his nationality, no to playing in the international friendlies which might, in matches that mattered, have helped put him on a wavelength with less talented team-mates.
Neither Toshack nor Roberto Martínez, the club’s defining, transformative managers of recent times, had previous managerial experience. But Toshack has an incisive football intellect. Maybe Giggs does, but his stints as a TV pundit have kept it very effectively concealed.
Toshack inherited a Fourth Division club which had just missed promotion the previous season, and a squad with five players who would eventually play in the First. Giggs would take on a Premier League club – and the opponents, on-pitch and in the neighbouring technical area, that come with that – who appear headed for a relegation struggle.
Martínez and the club knew each other backwards. Giggs’ sole experience has been of the rather more cosseted environment at Manchester United. United, the club who know him best, had two opportunities to make him manager, but took neither and didn’t seem desperately bothered when he left in the summer.
And while second-rank clubs such as Swansea know that every successful manager is likely eventually to move on to more glamorous and better-rewarded things, that outcome – and its destination – is rarely built into the narrative from day one.
Failure would be entirely at Swansea’s expense, success an audition to manage United. Aspiration must be tempered by realism, but should surely extend beyond acting as training college for a club beaten in four of our last six meetings.
Against all of this is one pretty compelling argument. Giggs is reportedly wanted by Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, who has yet to make a bad appointment in 12 years in the role. Any choice he makes deserves respect. As Swans internet posters are wont to write, and with good reason “In Huw We Trust”. But putting Ryan Giggs into the dugout at the Liberty would test that faith as never before. Huw Richards