The young and the restless

Man United manager David Moyes (in black) belting out instructions to his charges.

BANGKOK - He was the first to head for the water bottle, he wiped the wet off his forehead.

His new boss watched intently.

But hardly at him.

It was as if David Moyes knew he didn't need to worry about Ryan Giggs.

Model football professional has been on the Welshman's name card for years already.

Manchester United's new manager was more interested in tracking the likes of Anderson and talking with Danny Welbeck, as the reigning English champions prepared for their first football match of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era yesterday at the Rajamangala Stadium here in Bangkok.

I wondered what Giggs thought of it all, as he worked those 39-year-old leg muscles and knee joints ahead of tonight's friendly against the Singha All-Stars.

For more than 23 years, he has been doing this.

After Thailand, there is Australia to visit, then Japan and Hong Kong and Austria.

With two games in Japan, the Red Devils will play five matches in Asia before they end pre-season in Austria.

Moyes, Giggs and United believe this programme will get them ready for the biggest season in a generation at the club.

There the Welshman was, dripping sweat in stifling humidity and heat thousands of kilometres away from home during what professional footballers commonly refer to as pre-season hell.

After 941 games and 168 goals for the only club he has worked for, it hardly seemed old for old Giggs.

Perhaps Moyes makes Giggs curious.

They are both on unique journeys.

One a footballer who has known only one manager all his life, at the start of perhaps his final season.

The other a manager who is pushing the buttons at his first big club, in what he firmly believes is a long stay at Old Trafford.

It must have been so different at Everton for Moyes.

After 13 successful campaigns, Giggs hardly blinked when it emerged, but when the English Premier League trophy was paraded around the track at the stadium last night to whoops and screams from the stands, the former ringmaster of Goodison Park did glance at it.

Barked orders

He will want his name associated with similar success.

The Scotsman seemed at ease in charge of one of the world's biggest sports institutions.

He easily handed out instructions to his coaches and barked orders at his players before various drills while around 20,000 rabid red-clad United fans watched from the stands.

I asked Tom Cleverley about the enthusiasm within the squad for such a tour before United set off for their workout.

The England international was also curious over what he would find out. Said the midfielder: "This is a good time to know the new manager.

There is new coaching staff to know and get used to.

"We also have five games to play and it'll be good for our fitness."

Giggs will know all about these preparations.

After the early years when hamstring trouble used to shadow him, the Welshman tries every trick in the book to be in prime position when football business becomes serious.

Once he used to fly down wings.

These days, the football brain is his main weapon of choice, trying to orchestrate United's attacks and trying to unlock defences.

He no longer plays all the time.

But Ferguson used Giggs for big games.

We wait to see what his role is under Moyes.

What is indisputable is that Giggs is still hugely important at United.

Moyes values his counsel, which is why he is already a player-coach.

Last Friday, though, Giggs was a footballer.

He hardly exchanged a word with the new boss.

He thrilled the crowd with a majestic 40-metre pass that landed at Rio Ferdinand's feet.

He did get a clap from Moyes for an exquisite cross.

Head down, Giggs went to the back of the crossing queue, his facial expression blank.

Moyes knows fuss hardly works with the player these days.

Leave that for the rest of the United players.

Giggs already looks as if he wants the whistle to blow on his 24th season.

Leonard Thomas' trip to Bangkok is sponsored by Nike.

leonardt@sph.com.sg