Football

Ryan Giggs Explains Why He Badly Wanted Liverpool To Win Last Season's Europa League

Ryan Giggs Explains Why He Badly Wanted Liverpool To Win Last Season's Europa League

#RedMonday debacle aside, there's still no love lost between Manchester United and Liverpool - be it fans or former players.

As a man who had graced the fixture more than anyone else, Ryan Giggs was drafted in by Sky Sports to spice things up with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher during 'The' Monday Night Football, and while he failed to ignite the Sky studios on a monumentally boring night, he has taken to the paper to give a rather more candid take on this current Liverpool crop ahead of this weekend's fixtures for both clubs.

Writing in his UK Telegraph column, Giggs revealed that he was actually willing Liverpool on against Sevilla in last season's Europa League final, explaining that he feared a Liverpool outfit under Klopp would flourish this season while unburdened by the Champions League:

This might sound strange but watching the Europa League final in May, I found myself wanting Jurgen Klopp's team to win - although not because I enjoy watching Liverpool parade a trophy. Quite the opposite: I was thinking months ahead to the implications European football, or the absence of it, would have on their league form this season.

During that final against Sevilla, it occurred to me that if Liverpool had this season without the draining effect of European football, and had recruited well in the summer, then they would have a real chance of challenging for the Premier League.

With a year at the club, Klopp would be better suited to the demands of the English game, his players would be well adapted to his way of playing and they would have no midweek distraction from the task at the weekend.
Louis van Gaal had experience of working in Germany and he would say that many German coaches like to work intensively all week preparing their teams tactically for the game at the weekend. If Liverpool had won the Europa League they would have qualified direct for the Champions League group stages but they were well beaten in Basel, finished eighth in the league and now their midweeks are free.

I think they are already seeing the benefits as they prepare to face Crystal Palace, where their title challenge in the 2013-'14 season started to come undone, equal on points with the leaders Manchester City and Arsenal in second place.

There certainly aren't many United fans who could truthfully claim they'd be prepared to watch Liverpool fans celebrate winning a trophy and qualifying for the Champions League with the following season in mind, but Giggs has his eye fixed on the long game for both clubs.

The United legend also favourably compared Liverpool to Manchester United of the mid-'00s, post-Roy Keane, who gradually created their own identity in the absence of such a dominant presence. Indeed, Giggs indicated that Keane was worth two such personalities in United's squad:

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Gerrard’s departure has forced others to fill the gap and sometimes that can be a good thing for a club to move away from a focus on one individual.

In many respects it was the same at United when Roy Keane left in 2005. For years he had been like two players for us and when he left others had to step up to fill the void. What seems different to United is that looking from the outside, Gerrard was always the dominant figure at the club regardless of who the manager might have been. Now that he has left it feels like Klopp is that man.

Giggs hasn't quite lit the world alight with his punditry in recent months, but it's actually an extremely interesting column on two clubs which - at first glance - seem to be heading on opposite trajectories. You can check it out in full here.

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Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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