The FA Cup semi-final goal that Ryan Giggs scored against Arsenal in 1999 will always be the standard against which he is judged, so with the champions coming to Old Trafford for the fifth round in March, the winger will need rather more than two goals against West Ham to prove he has returned to form.
Sir Alex Ferguson announced on Sunday that Giggs was “back”, although originally it took some time for the United manager to admit publicly that his left-winger’s form had gradually ebbed away over Christmas.
Ferguson’s assistant, Carlos Queiroz, was the first to admit the club’s disquiet, before Old Trafford cheered the substitution of their famous No 11 — who made his debut 12 seasons ago — in the Worthington Cup semi-final first leg.
It was, perhaps, with that episode in mind that Giggs, the club’s longest-serving player, mentioned the reception he had been given by the home crowd on Sunday. He waited on the bench against Chelsea and has only been re-admitted to the first team in the side’s last two games.
“It is always nice to score and it boosts your confidence, and I’ve enjoyed the last couple of games,” Giggs said. “Perhaps I wasn’t enjoying my football like I used to a couple of weeks ago, but I certainly enjoyed it today and I have certainly enjoyed the last couple of games.
“I knew that I could come back and play well, it was just a matter of time. I’ve had dips in form before but this has probably been my longest dip. The gaffer rested me in a few games recently and that was probably right, especially if you are not playing too well and you’ve got game after game, you just get no rest.”
He added: “I’ve played more games this season than in the last four or five years but I’ve come back after the rest and felt a lot better and fresher. ”