Manchester United have confirmed that Ryan Giggs has ended his association with the club after almost three decades. Giggs, who has been player, caretaker and assistant manager at Old Trafford over the last 29 years, is departing "to pursue his desire to be a manager." In a statement posted on the club’s website, Giggs said the following:
"After 29 seasons at Manchester United as a player and assistant manager, I know winning is in the DNA of this club - giving youth a chance, and playing attacking and exciting football. It’s healthy to have high expectations, it’s right to expect to win. Manchester United expects, deserves, nothing less.
"This is why it is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14. It has not been a decision that I have made lightly. I'll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future.
"However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.
"I’ve been extremely fortunate in having two great managerial mentors; first in Sir Alex, who I’ve spent the majority of my life working with and learning from and who I believe will remain as football’s greatest-ever manager and in more recent times, Louis van Gaal, whose CV speaks for itself. The knowledge I have gleaned from them has been invaluable.
"I want to reiterate my thanks to the backroom staff and support teams at Manchester United I’ve worked with over the years. The results on the pitch are a reflection of the hard work off it. I would not have achieved the success I have without the dedication, sacrifice and commitment of these people in creating the best environment for the team to succeed.
"I want to congratulate José Mourinho on his appointment as manager of the world’s biggest club. There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and José is unquestionably one of them. I know the fans will welcome him.
"My final thank you is to the fans. I cannot begin to tell you how much I will miss walking out at Old Trafford in front of you. It’s extremely difficult to say goodbye after 29 years. I have loved every minute both as a player and assistant manager. The support you have always shown me has been phenomenal; thank you.
"It’s time for a new chapter and a new challenge. I’m excited about the future - I’ve had the best apprenticeship into management anyone could ever ask for."
As many had expected, it seems likely that José Mourinho’s arrival has paved the way for Giggs’ departure. He could likely have continued as one of Mou’s lieutenants at Old Trafford, though if he wants to stand a real chance of one day taking charge of United, it seems right that he needs to move on and prove his worth at a lesser club. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go the way of Gary Neville ...