Rich nailed it the other day when talking about Ryan Giggs. There’s been a lot of media talk about how deserving Giggs was of his Sports Personality of the Year award recently. To me, all that rather misses the point. If you’re going to have a public vote, you lose much of the control over influencing the result and seeking to do that defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.
Setting aside the relative merits of Jenson Button and (the rather more unlucky, in my opinion, Jessica Ennis), there is a cogent argument for a Giggs victory. Here is a guy who’s been at the top level of his sport for nearly two decades and has successfully reinvented himself from flying young winger to more cerebral wide player and then creative central midfielder to continue to hold down a spot in the most successful English club team of this area. More than that, Giggs has been playing some of his best football of his career in the past calendar year. He was instrumental in United’s back-to-back title wins and his contribution last season was noted by his fellow footballers, the most prized of all the awards.
Perhaps the most crucial thing here is that Giggs is that rare thing in modern sport, a personality. Granted, he’s not as extroverted as the likes of Flintoff and Rooney, but he’s a warm, engaging personality whose passion for the game shines through in an articulate manner when interviewed.
As a player, he’s impressed me every time I’ve seen him, which sadly was pretty infrequent prior to Fulham’s promotion in 2001. He scored a truly magnificent goal in our defeat at the Cottage against United at Christmas that first year we came back, firing the ball home from an improbable angle and remains a real threat to opposition defences today. We should relish the opportunity to watch him tomorrow, whilst secretly hoping he has an extremely rare off day.
Fulham fans may not get the chance to acclaim Edwin van der Sar, the best goalkeeper I’ve seen in a Fulham shirt (though Schwarzer runs him close), as he remains on the lengthy United injury list. Physioroom lists him as doubtful for tomorrow’s clash and, while from a selfish point of view I’d much rather have Kuszczak or Foster between the sticks, it would be nice to sing the big Dutchman’s name in recongition of the service he gave the club in helping us solidify our place in the Premier League.