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May 10, 2014

Giggs: United must aim for Europa spot

Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones' recent injuries are not as severe as initially thought and both will be fit for the World Cup.

Ryan Giggs wants to sign off his spell as Manchester United's interim manager by leading the club into the Europa League.

Ryan Giggs shows his frustration on the sidelines.
Ryan Giggs saw his side fall to a narrow 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland on Tuesday.

• Payne: A learning experience
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Hernandez hails Giggs

The 40-year-old's final act as United boss will come on Sunday when he takes his team to Southampton for the last match of what has been a disappointing campaign.

Ever since he made his debut back in 1991, Giggs has never ended a season without having the prospect of European football to look forward to -- but this year United are looking increasingly likely to finish outside the qualification places.

Already without a chance of making the Champions League, the Red Devils will miss out on the Europa League unless they beat Southampton and Tottenham lose at home to Aston Villa.

A number of United fans are hoping that their team finish seventh: the Europa League is less prestigious and financially rewarding than the Champions League, and Liverpool have shown this season that not qualifying for Europe can help a team's domestic fortunes.

However, Giggs does not agree with those who say the Europa League would be more trouble than it is worth, and wants to ensure continental competition for United next season.

"I maintain my stance, we want to be in Europe,'' he said. "We can only qualify for the Europa League and we will carry on trying to do that.

"It would have been in our hands now if we had beaten Sunderland [last week] because Tottenham lost [to West Ham]. That was disappointing for us.''

Europe or no Europe, whether Giggs will be involved with United -- either as a player or a coach -- is still up in the air.

"I am going to take a holiday as soon as the season finishes and discuss with family and friends what to do next,'' said the Welshman, who brought himself off the bench for a 20-minute cameo in the 3-1 win over Hull on Tuesday night.

"It is not something I am thinking too much about, but I will.''

The skills are still there -- that much was evident when he went tearing down the left wing at Old Trafford in midweek. It is just a question of whether Giggs is ready to commit himself to another year of strict diet, fitness regimes, and the pressure of performing for a new manager, expected to be Louis van Gaal.

When Giggs took the microphone and addressed the Old Trafford crowd after the Hull win, it seemed like it was the end of an era. Giggs' future is still undecided while Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra could leave the club next month with their contracts set to expire.

United are yet to exercise their option to keep Ferdinand for another year: under the terms of his current deal, Evra has the option to extend his contract, but he has yet to do so.

Part of Giggs' mission when he was appointed was to lift the spirits of the dressing room, and he has succeeded: Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Anders Lindegaard -- who compared Giggs to Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola -- have all said Giggs has made a huge impact since taking over from David Moyes, who was sacked just 10 months into a six-year contract.

Nicky Butt, a fellow Class of '92 graduate who has been a member of Giggs' backroom staff in his three matches in charge, has been impressed by how his former teammate has taken to management.

"He has stepped up really well,'' Butt said. "It's difficult for him because he has played with [this squad] for a long time -- he knows them as friends, so not to drop them has been difficult for him but he is a mentally strong lad.

"He has taken to it like a duck to water.''

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