The dreaded changing of the guard is now upon us. For every United fan of this generation the inevitable is probably going to happen any time. For almost a decade and a half, “Devils” around the world have looked up to three individuals to bring them unparalleled joy and triumph; so much so that the club has become synonymous with these modern day United greats. Giggsy, Scholsy and Neviller, as they are affectionately called in United circles, are the heart, lungs and guts of this football club. For years, the thought of them calling it a day has brought heart ache to fans but the writing is surely on the wall this time around. Objectively speaking, they have given their all to the cause and it might suit both parties to part, but at times like these objectivity is the last thing that comes to mind.
Mind shudders at just the thought of parting, emotions would surely run high when finally the day arrives. Old Trafford regulars have been spoilt by the continued brilliance of the two Englishmen and the Welsh wizard as success at times has seemed a mere formality. Tougher times could lie ahead for Club and patience could be the order of the day. Our heroes would leave with a rich and successful history and it’s up to the younger generation to maintain the standards.
1. Ryan Giggs:
The most capped player ever for this illustrious club and almost a father figure for the next generation of Manchester United players has done it all and undoubtedly won it all. His legacy is unmatched and probably even difficult to emulate. Giggs has been an integral part ever since the premier league era began and is the only player to score in every season since its inception. But stats alone don’t do justice to his contribution to the Club and the Premier league in general. To be adored by your home fans is a great feeling but to be looked up by rival supporters with respect is all the more complementary. Ryan Giggs commands respect from one and all alike, a mark of a true sportsman and great champion. Replacing Ryan would seem like a heart transplant because he is simply irreplaceable. Two decades of service, enthralling fans with his skills and leaving the opposition defenders with “twisted blood”, Giggs’s contribution cannot be simply put in words.
Favourite Ryan Giggs Moment:
It’s a hard job simply because there are innumerable moments that linger long in the memory. Giggsy has scored probably the most celebrated goal in the history of the English game. Yes “that” goal against Arsenal in the F.A Cup Semi-final replay on way to the clubs historic “Treble”. Eleven years from the day can’t imagine a United fan not having Goosebumps watching it even to this day.
The Three Legends.
2. Paul Scholes:
The Ginger Prince has been the lynchpin of United’s midfield for time immemorial. From a goal scoring striker to redefining himself as a midfield maestro Scholes has passed all tests thrown at him and with distinction. Never the one to crave for attention and lime light his simplicity has often been mistaken for his arrogance. The first one on the training field, his professionalism is an example for all young and aspiring sportsmen. It’s next to impossible to find a new superlative for Scholes because like Giggsy his place in United folklore is guaranteed. PS18 has given us memories to cherish for life, he has graced the Old Trafford turf and enriched it many folds. If Ryan is irreplaceable then Paul is indispensable.
Favourite Paul Scholes Moment:
Among the plethora of scintillating goals and match winning assists, it’s not a piece of cake to find one stand out moment. From his famous volley against Bradford to his delicate chip against Panathanikos, he has scored them all. But the one in recent times that sticks to mind would be his strike against Barcelona in the Semi-final second leg at Old Trafford. That strike won United the tie and the rest as they say is history.
3. Gary Neville:
If one and only one individual ever embodied the United spirit it has to be the “Neviller”. Hated and loathed by opposition fans, Gary Neville is a fighter and a leader of men. Never to back down from a confrontation, Neville has literally given his blood and sweat for his club’s cause. In this era of football mercenaries this lad from Bury is a one club man in the true sense of the word. There never was and never will be anything beyond Manchester United in the life of Gary Neville, and the famous chant will continue to echo all around OT “Gary Neville is a Red, he hates Scousers”. People like Gary are a rare breed and once they leave, their absence is felt much beyond the football field. But Neville won’t leave Old Trafford, he knows no other place. His soul is entrapped somewhere inside the theatre of dreams and rests comfortably at peace.
Favourite Gary Neville Moment:
When he gave it back to the travelling Liverpool supporters at Old Trafford. The biggest derby in English football was won by a very late Rio Ferdinand header and Neville ran towards the Liverpool section to celebrate madly and give it back to the fans who had been on his back all day long. Till this date he is jeered by Liverpool fans whenever he steps foot at Anfield. Does he care? Not a chance.
The final hurrah is now upon us, bidding farewell to these stalwarts isn’t going to be easy; especially to this generation followers who have grown up imitating and idolizing them. There are times in life when everything seems inconsequential, when hopes die and there isn’t a way ahead. We would hope watching football would still remain a passion even after our heroes walk off the field one final time. Would the love in our heart for the club subside in any ways when these legends depart? Hopefully when that day comes, practicality would reign over emotions. There would be melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass but life – as always – would have to go on.