Ryan Giggs has opened up about the loneliness that came with being caretaker manager of Manchester United back in 2014.
The club’s worst season of the Premier League era saw David Moyes sacked after ten months in charge, with Giggs taking charge of the last four games as a caretaker player-manager.
He oversaw a beleaguered Man United side beat Norwich City and Hull, lose to Sunderland, and draw away to Southampton on the final day of the season before assuming a role as Louis van Gaal‘s assistant.
Speaking soon after his first game as Wales boss – a 6-0 win over China – Giggs revealed how he learned a lot from the short stint in the Old Trafford dugout.
“I learned a lot about how lonely it was when I was United manager,” he said. “When you shut the door of your office and everyone else has gone home, you’re on your own.”
“It’s good to have people around and you want those people to be the ones you trust, but it can still be a lonely place. Ultimately you’re the boss and you have to make the decisions.”
Giggs was uncharacteristically open about the painful minutiae of life as manager at a top club, shedding light on the hardships of round-the-clock planning for games and the agony that came with picking which teammates would play and those who would miss out.
As a relatively young coach with such a close ties to the players, it was always going to be a strange dynamic, and his clear discomfort with the ruthless nature of managing in a top division perhaps tells us why he opted to manage on an international level.
With Wales, he will have time to meticulously plan for every game, to slowly warm himself to the process of selecting and omitting players, to understand personalities. This, he will be thinking, is just the start of a long road.
Supporters will be keen to see how he gets on against Uruguay in the China Cup final on Monday.