IT gets a bit boring when you read all the honours Ryan Giggs has won.
Eleven Premier League winners’ medals, four FA Cup medals, four League Cup medals and two Champions League victories, BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2009... the list is endless.
It is hard to begrudge Giggs any of his success, though, for he is everything a Premier League footballer should be – hard-working and not one to live the flash lifestyle adopted by many fellow players (helped by Sir Alex Ferguson nipping any sign of a champagne lifestyle in the bud early in Giggs’ career).
The 37-year-old is in his 20th year as a pro and has little left to prove or achieve other than helping United to more honours.
But there is one thing missing from his CV – 90 minutes at Bloomfield Road.
Giggs has been a spectator at Blackpool but hasn’t faced the Seasiders. “It is always great to play teams I’ve never played before,” he said on the back of another sumptuous display against Birmingham at the weekend, when he scored his third goal of the season.
“Blackpool have a lot of history and tradition. I watched a youth cup match at Bloomfield Road in the 1990s, so I’m looking forward to playing at the stadium. All three promoted clubs are doing really well, which is great to see at this stage of the season.
“Sometimes teams play very defensively against us. “It is always a much better match when both teams are playing attacking football, so let’s hope it is a good match.”
The ways Giggs is going, he could be playing for many a year ... though perhaps not as long as the Seasiders’ own wing wonder, Sir Stanley Matthews, who was still lacing up his boots in the top flight at the age of 50.
“I have always said that as long as I am still enjoying playing and am playing well, then I will continue for as long as I can,” said Giggs. I am not sure I will still be playing at 50, though!”
United arrive on the Fylde unbeaten in the Premier League and at the summit, though most observers argue they have lacked the swagger that has characterised recent seasons. They have still scored 48 – the same as Arsenal and ten more than any other Premier League team.
That is 18 more than Blackpool, with United conceding only 19, compared to the Seasiders’ 38. Dimitar Berbatov is the man in form and took his league tally for the season to 17 with his hat-trick against Birmingham. He is three goals clear of the Premier League’s second-top scorer, Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez.
“Dimitar is realising his ability,” said Ferguson, who shelled out £30m on the Bulgarian two summers ago. “The other players sense it too. They are playing their part in playing with him. He has special qualities and I think we are using them.”
Ferguson claims Wayne Rooney needs some luck in front of goal. The striker has just four goals this term but there have been signs of late that the England man is getting back to his best.
“He is working his socks off and he produced some great football on Saturday,” added Ferguson.” Even Ferguson might concede that United haven’t played at the top of their game this season.
But with their No.1 aim being to win the title for a record-breaking 19th time – they are level with Liverpool on 18 – how they play doesn’t really matter.
“Of course we want to be playing at our best because we feel it gives us the best chance of winning games,” said midfielder Michael Carrick.
“You don’t want to struggle through every game and have to rely on individual magic to win but it does boil down to finishing on top. You’ve got to keep on your toes and keep driving forward.”
Carrick is rated 50-50 after taking a knock at the weekend and Rio Ferdinand may be rested because of a groin injury.
Unfortunately Berbatov and Rooney are fully fit ... though such are Ferguson’s options, he may throw in nine-goal Javier Hernandez or former England ace Michael Owen to shake things up.
One thing is sure: Pool have a hell of a tough night ahead of them.