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Giggs will retire, but his shirt will not

Despite suggestions that Manchester United might retire the No. 11 shirt in honour of Ryan Giggs, the club have indicated that they have no intentions of doing so.

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Michael Regan

As reported by Mark Ogden in the Telegraph, Manchester United will not be retiring the number 11 shirt in the wake of Ryan Giggs' retirement as a player. While some clubs honour notable departures in this way — West Ham and AC Milan have both retired the number 6 shirt, for example, in honour of Bobby Moore and Franco Baresi — United are keen to maintain a sense of historical continuity, and so number 11 we be reallocated as soon as a worthy successor can be found.

Indeed, as things currently stand quite a few numbers of weight and historical import are available. Number 5 shirt is available, having been occupied for the last 12 seasons by Rio Ferdinand. Number 9 has been empty since Dimitar Berbatov strolled off into the sunset, and number 7 has been vacant since Antonio Valencia decided that he much preferred his old number 25. Wasn't quite as heavy on the shoulders apparently. Number 3 could be free as well, soon, if Patrice Evra decides that he prefers life in Turin or Monaco.

So who's going to get them? Adnan Januzaj, currently wearing 44, will likely have his pick of either 7 or 11; should he opt for the former, he will become the latest in a proud lineage that includes Robson, Cantona, Beckham, Ronaldo and, er, Owen. Transfer rumours suggest either Arjen Robben or Thomas Mueller for whichever doesn't go to Januzaj, and if nobody decent ends up coming then one can sit empty for a while. Ashley Young is not having either of them.

Number 5, meanwhile, will presumably end up containing whichever central defender United end up buying; it's been a defender's shirt ever since Ronny Johnsen took it from Lee Sharpe. If Evra leaves, then 3 has to go to the replacement left-back. Having the number 3 anywhere else on the pitch is an act of cultural vandalism. As for number 9? No idea. James Wilson?