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Man Utd derby veteran Giggs can help rouse Reds

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Louis van Gaal and Ryan Giggs might want to swap their pecking order on Sunday.

The new Reds boss will be experiencing his first Manchester derby when United travel to City. Giggs, on the other hand, is a veteran of clashes with the Blues.

But even the Reds legend will be experiencing something new on Sunday, with this being the first time he has been not been involved as a player.

Last season Giggs was on David Moyes’ coaching staff, but was still also employed as a player even though the former Old Trafford boss didn’t select him in either of his 17-man squads for the derbies.

Now he is van Gaal’s trusted sidekick and the 63-year-old Dutchman has already praised the Welshman for his ‘miracle’ communication skills in front of the players this season.

And there is nobody better qualified to instil in van Gaal’s new-look Reds the meaning of the Manchester clash.

When Giggs was scoring his first derby goal at Old Trafford in May 1991, van Gaal wasn’t even a fully-fledged manager. The 39-year-old Dutchman was Leo Beenhakker’s assistant at Ajax and a couple of months away from being appointed his successor.

The weekend Giggs was credited with the winner against the Blues 23 years ago, van Gaal was helping Beenhakker oversee a 4-1 home win against Roda JC Kerkrade in the Dutch League and Daley Blind’s dad Danny was on the scoresheet.

Van Gaal, of course, has plotted many huge club and country occasions on the biggest of stages since – from the World Cup to the Champions League via La Liga and the Bundesliga – but he has yet to taste a really true ferocious inter-city feud.

When he was in charge of Ajax, the Amsterdam club were the only professional one in the city. There was no derby on the calendar and the biggest Dutch battles were in the De Klassieker against Rotterdam’s Feyenoord.

When he moved on to Barcelona, the Catalan derby was against Espanyol in La Liga and he enjoyed an unbeaten record against them winning five of seven league matches and drawing two.

In truth Barca had bigger fish to fry in El Clasico against Real Madrid, with a record of just one defeat in eight deserving credit. The so-called Derbi Barceloni was only of minor interest to Nou Camp followers and wasn’t an intense source of local pride.

At AZ Alkmaar, there wasn’t a city derby and neither was there a Munich rival when he was at Bayern. The Bavarian encounter with Munich-based TSV 1860 wasn’t on the calendar in van Gaal’s time in Germany.

So the curiosities of the inter-city showdowns are alien to van Gaal and his Dutch backroom staff.

Step forward then Giggs. He may have been born in Cardiff but for United fans he’s as Manc as they come and when United rock up at the Lowry Hotel in Salford on Saturday on the eve of the visit to the Etihad, Giggs should be the man to deliver a speech to the Gaalacticos on what to expect.

Despite all of his success against the Blues, Sunday could be Giggs’ finest derby moment if he can inspire the Reds to success.

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