Ryan Giggs aims to improve Wales squad's strength in depth

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales in Nanning
Ryan Giggs and Marcelo Lippi
Ryan Giggs' only previous management experience came during a spell as caretaker boss of Manchester United

Wales manager Ryan Giggs wants his players to be "looking over their shoulders" as he aims to improve the squad's strength in depth.

Giggs made the perfect start to his tenure as Gareth Bale's hat-trick inspired a 6-0 drubbing of China.

That made Bale Wales' all-time leading goalscorer, though Giggs was equally encouraged by younger returning players such as Harry Wilson and Declan John.

"We want to get that strength in depth," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"Sometimes that has been an Achilles heel - if two or three players are out then we struggle. We don't want that anymore.

"We want a competitive squad. If someone is missing through injury or suspension then we have someone to come in.

"We want players looking over their shoulder. I was brought up in an environment where training was sometimes more difficult than the games and that is the kind of atmosphere that I want to generate."

Thursday's crushing victory over China - the opening fixture of the China Cup friendly tournament - was Giggs' first fixture as a permanent manager.

The 44-year-old had four games in charge of Manchester United as interim boss in 2014, before working as an assistant to Louis van Gaal for two seasons.

But it was not until January that Giggs became a fully-fledged manager in his own right, succeeding Chris Coleman, who had left for Sunderland two months earlier.

Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs saw off competition from Craig Bellamy, Mark Bowen and Osian Roberts to become Wales manager

What has Giggs changed?

Having worked under Sir Alex Ferguson during his playing career at United and then with Van Gaal as a coach at Old Trafford, Giggs has some authoritative mentors to call upon.

However, the former Wales captain has stressed that he is his own man, and there was a sign of his independence of thought with a few tactical tweaks in his first game in charge.

There was one before kick-off: a relaxed looking Giggs opting to wear a tracksuit rather than the suit Coleman always wore.

Wales lined up in a new 4-4-2 formation against China, with a flexible midfield diamond allowing John to push wide and become an auxiliary left wing-back at times, while Wilson was at the tip of the diamond in a roaming '10' role.

It was a significant night for both players. Rangers' John, 22, had not played for Wales since 2014, while Wilson - on loan at Hull from Liverpool - had been absent since becoming Wales' youngest player at 16-years-old with a substitute appearance against Belgium in 2013.

Wilson was also celebrating his 21st birthday and marked the occasion with a brilliantly struck first international goal, as well as an intelligent through ball for Sam Vokes' second.

"There were some really good performances," said Giggs.

"Declan John was outstanding. It was a great night for a lot of individuals."

Wilson and John both started, and there were more reasons to be cheerful for Giggs as he made use of his substitutions.

Brentford defender Chris Mepham came on for his international debut, while Sheffield United midfielder Lee Evans won his second cap and Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw his third.

China's weak performance meant Giggs and his players were not given a thorough examination, though that is likely to come when Wales face either Uruguay or the Czech Republic in Monday's China Cup final.

Regardless of the opposition, Giggs was still delighted with Wales' first display under his watch.

"For me it was a great result, great performance and things we can work on. We only had two days to prepare," he added.

"I think it was difficult because of the travelling. A lot of players had knocks so I wanted to give as much time to the players as possible.

"As it's my first game I want to win it, but it's also about being fair to the players and the clubs so it was difficult getting that balance."

Top Stories