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English Premier League

Manchester United fans would ‘adore’ Gareth Bale, says Real Madrid star’s national boss Ryan Giggs during Hong Kong visit

Former Old Trafford great points out where his old club need to strengthen in the summer as they look to knock rivals City off top spot next season

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 8:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 10:10am

Wales manager Ryan Giggs would love to see his country’s record scorer join former club Manchester United, he revealed to the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview while in Hong Kong.

“I’d be a happy United fan, that’s for sure,” laughed Giggs of the prospect of Gareth Bale moving to Old Trafford.

“I think he’s a Man United player. I think the fans would love him. The fans would adore him but again, like I say, he’s at a club where he’s won three Champions Leagues so why would you leave?”

Bale had said that he would talk with his agent this summer in the aftermath of a two-goal man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final win over Liverpool in Kiev last month.

He started the game on the bench for Zinedine Zidane’s side but the Frenchman has since been replaced as manager by Julen Lopetegui.

“I think there’s been talk for the last three years of Gareth moving. I think he’s at the right club but of course he wants to play,” Giggs said.

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“Last season he was frustrated and I can understand that but with a new manager I’m sure that he’ll wait to see how he does and see if he’s part of the new manager’s plans.”

Giggs, who was in town for Father’s Day on behalf of the SHKP Malls App at East Point City in Tseung Kwan O, thinks that United need to strengthen by the time they kick off the English Premier League season against Leicester City on August 11.

“I think up front we’re fine. With the firepower we’ve got Lukaku scores goals, Sanchez, Rashford, Jesse [Lingard]. You’ve got a lot of options up front. In midfield I’d like to see, we’ve been saying it for a long time, we thought Pogba would be that attacking midfielder I would like to see.

“They don’t grow on trees unfortunately, a Modric, a Kroos type who can keep the ball. And also I think a centre half we need. All the successful United teams over the years – Pallister, Bruce, Jaap Stam, Ferdinand, Vidic – they’ve always had top class centre halves.

“Again, they don’t grow on trees. Who do we get, I don’t know, but I think a midfielder and centre half are vital.”

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Jose Mourinho’s United side finished 19 points behind champions Manchester City and lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea but Giggs sees hope for next season.

“Yeah, because in the past it has always been if a team has done well how are you gonna make up all them points? But see the last three seasons. Leicester and then nowhere the next season.

“Chelsea not really anywhere. I think the problem is with City, you’ve got a manager who after his first season wins again. He did it with Barcelona, he did it with Bayern. I don’t think they are gonna bring many players in. They’ve got a pretty settled side.”

That’s not something he sees being the case at Old Trafford where he predicts a lot of change over the summer.

“I think United, there will be a lot of players going. There will be a lot of players coming in. Whereas City will probably just tweak, which is always a good thing if you’ve got a settled side and then you can bring in two big hitters who can just make that difference and take you up to the next level.

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“If you win actually it’s more important to just keep that freshness for the players who’ve just won to make sure that they’re not getting too complacent.”

What about the prospect of United not winning a trophy but playing a more attractive brand of football, something that supporters have advocated despite the team reaching four finals in the last three seasons.

“You want both. I played there for 25 years and as well as winning you want to entertain. I think it’s always the same at United, you’ve got to entertain the crowd and you’ve got to win. It’s not easy.

“When City did it last year that was a problem for United. You had the neighbours winning everything and playing attractive football as well. That just put the emphasis on United even more.

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“Next year they’ve got the players to do it. They’ve got the players to win four or five nil. They’ve got the players as well to grind out 1-0 wins and that’s what wins leagues. They come together – winning things and entertaining football.”

Giggs could soon be coming up against City and United as Salford City – the team he owns with class of ‘92 teammates Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville – continue their march towards league football.

“Our ambitions are big and one of the reasons, well there’s lots of reasons why we bought Salford, but one of them was to be in it for the long term. As a coach you could be in a job a year, two years, we wanted something where you’d be involved 25, 30 years.

“It’s exciting. We’ve had good success so far regarding promotions. Three promotions in four years and now we’re near the Football League, you wanna get in that Football League and then after that who knows.”

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Can they make that leap this season?

“We hope to. We’ve brought in a really good manager. It’s hard recruitment wise because there are a lot of big teams. It’s not an easy league to get out of but with the momentum that we’ve got, with the support that we’re now getting, we’re hopeful that we’ll at least compete and that’s all you can ask for.

And will any of that class of ‘92 ever manage Salford?

“I don’t think so, no. It’s an option because there’s a lot of experience within us and a lot of aspirations to be coaches amongst us as well. I wouldn’t rule it out but it wasn’t why we got involved really.

“It was more for the long term to produce a youth team and we’ve now got a women’s team starting this year so all these things were primarily the reasons why we got involved. “

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So what if they met United in the Cup? Giggs laughs at the prospect.

“It would be brilliant. I grew up in Salford but I played for United for 25 years and to have that, we got a little taste of it in the FA Cup when we played Notts County, when we played Hartlepool.

“We got a taste of the big time but it doesn’t get any bigger than playing United. As owners you would want your team to win but it would be a difficult one as I’m a United fan as well.”