Fifa World Cup: Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs tips Marcus Rashford to star, even if it means England have to do well
Wales boss is a pundit in Moscow but was in Hong Kong on Sunday to meet and greet hundreds of fans at East Point City shopping centre in Tseung Kwan O
Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has tipped Marcus Rashford to shine at the World Cup in Russia, although that would mean England doing well.
“I’m hoping Marcus because I think he was a breath of fresh air [in a friendly] at Elland Road for England. He’s the kind of player that can make an impact, who can come off the bench to make an impact, who can start and do different things. I hope it’s Marcus because he excites me.”
Giggs praised Rashford in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post during a flying visit to Hong Kong for the SHKP Malls app on Father’s Day, where he was greeted by hundreds of fans at East Point City in Tseung Kwan O.
“I think he’s someone who can do a bit of everything. He probably needs to score more, but to do that he probably needs to play more. He can run in behind with and without the ball, try things, express himself and he’s got a good mentality as well. He’s tough. I hope he does well, but that will mean England has to do well.”
Giggs, a fellow graduate of United’s academy, might see a bit of himself in Rashford.
“I wanted to take players on, to try things. I wanted to express myself but at the same time be a player who would win games, who would win trophies.”
It’s easy to understand why he would not want Rashford winning a trophy with England. The Wales manager is fiercely patriotic, despite growing up in Salford, and hopes that come the next World Cup he is there as Wales manager rather than as a pundit.
“Now I’m there and see how big it is, the atmosphere, you want to be part of it. It’s not easy getting to a World Cup. We’ve not done it since 1958 so that just proves how hard it is, but if we ever got a chance then it’s now with a good group of players.
“Obviously we have Gareth Bale, we have Aaron Ramsey, we have Joe Allen, but we’ve younger players coming through so the hope is that by the time of the next World Cup they mature nicely and are ready.”
There’s an even bigger chance Wales could be at the 2026 tournament when it will be expanded to 48 teams, but Giggs has mixed feelings.
“Obviously for the lesser countries it gives you a better chance, but also you don’t want the quality to dilute. The World Cup is the best competition in the world. Saying that as manager of Wales, you want as big a chance as you can get of getting to a World Cup, it’s been 60 years.
“We’ll have to wait and see if we’re good enough. We haven’t been good enough in the past. You need a lot of things to go for you. If you’re a small nation you need all your best players fit, you need that little bit of luck and you need to perform.”
He sees that in the Iceland team that held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup debut on Saturday.
“It’s encouraging when you see a population of 400,000-something show what they can do with hard work, with team spirit and obviously a bit of quality as well. It gives hope to all the smaller nations.”
As for the team that will be the most successful in Russia, Giggs can’t look too far past the favourites, although this was before Germany lost their opener to Mexico and Brazil were pegged back by Switzerland on Sunday night.
“It’s a tough one to call. Obviously one is Germany with the experience they have as reigning champions. Brazil look good but I think a lot depends on how Neymar is, if he’s fully fit. But other than that I think it’s pretty open. . There could be a surprise definitely within the semis anyway.”
Giggs will be watching from Moscow where he is working as a pundit for British television station ITV alongside former teammates Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Patrice Evra and Henrik Larsson.
Giggs wants to emulate the United sides he played in as a coach with Wales, where he will return once his World Cup duties are over.
“I want to entertain, I want to score goals. It’s not easy. My second game against Uruguay, you’ve got Cavani, Suarez, Godin, Gimenez. Six players with 100 caps or more so it’s not easy when you come up against teams like that.
His next opportunity will be in the newly minted Nations League which kicks off in September and Giggs is looking forward to the new format.
“It’s always exciting when there’s a new competition. It’s bamboozled a lot of people because you play it, then you go to the Euros and then you go back to the Nations League. The groups are all really finely balanced. Ours with Portugal, Denmark. You see England, Croatia, Spain.”
It will be a different experience than his time as caretaker manager and then assistant at OId Trafford.
“I had two years under Louis [van Gaal] at United. I enjoyed it as my first job. It’s very different. Every day is constant in club management. When you’re managing a country it’s good in regards your lifestyle doesn’t really change, but then also it’s managing your time and then when it is camps it’s really intense, which I like as well.”
Would he ever return to club management?
“In the future who knows, but at the moment I’m only just starting so my main focus is just with Wales.”
That and England not winning the World Cup.