MANCHESTER: What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago cheers rang out around Old Trafford as Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager with another league to celebrate.
This time around the closing home match speech to fans was made by Ryan Giggs and his words were not of celebration but of optimistic promise about an uncertain future. David Moyes has come and gone as manager, Giggs is merely the caretaker and an announcement about the expected arrival of Louis Van Gaal has been delayed.
The 40-year-old Giggs was speaking after Tuesday’s 3:1 win over Hull, which could turn out to be his farewell appearance after 963 games at the club. Giggs, whose United future remains uncertain, came on during the second half.
He told fans: “It has been tough this season but the good times will come back soon. Over the years we’ve been spoilt with the success we’ve had but you’ve always supported the team and the staff and I’m sure in the coming years we’ll bring you more success.”
Eighteen-year-old debutant James Wilson scored twice and Robin Van Persie wrapped up the victory after Matty Fryatt had pulled one back for the FA Cup finalists.
United still have an outside chance of securing a place in next season’s Europa League, but will need to beat Southampton and hope that Tottenham lose at home to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Their win, however, did throw up another injury concern for England manager Roy Hodgson ahead of his naming next week of a preliminary squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Jones was taken to hospital with a shoulder injury after a collision with Hull defender Maynor Figueroa while jumping for a corner in the 16th minute. The 22-year-old walked off the pitch and was taken immediately to hospital for assessment.
Giggs said: “It didn’t look great. Straight away he knew he had done something. He wanted to come straight off. Usually, as a player, you know it’s something bad when you do that.”
The versatile Jones has been capped nine times by England and is a further defensive concern with Tottenham defender Kyle Walker a doubt because of a pelvic injury. Hodgson has already ‘lost’ injured wingers Andros Townsend and Theo Walcott.