So we have the end of an era at Old Trafford. A year after the end of an era. One month after the end of another era. These eras suddenly appear to be eerily familiar around Manchester United.
Ryan Giggs, 40, has officially announced his retirement as a player to focus on his fresh role as Louis van Gaal's assistant. It comes 12 months after Sir Alex Ferguson retired as the club's most successful manager. It comes one month after David Moyes was retired as the club's least successful manager.
Where to now for United under Van Gaal? Where to now for Giggs under Van Gaal?
Giggs is a true great. He has seen and done it all as a player. Some will point out that he has seen it and done it all as a bloke, but we shall leave that for a more conspicuous forum. Probably for a chap like Jeremy Kyle to dissect.
When Giggs begins his full-time post alongside Van Gaal, he can offer a quick riposte if he is challenged by any dissenting players to show them his medals.
Under Ferguson's gilded 27 years running the club, Giggs revelled in 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues. He declares on a club record of 936 appearances from a playing career apparently sent from the football Gods.
Giggs remains a one-club man turning from vibrant winger to erudite midfielder and now trusted assistant at the club he joined as a schoolboy in 1987. His long-term aim must be the United manager's job, but he is a long way from home when pondering such a possibility.
His playing credentials are undisputed, but does he have the nous to become a fabled coach? Time will tell. The hardest part in life is learning new tricks. Forget those handful of matches as caretaker manager. Giggs has done nothing as a coach. Compared to Van Gaal, he is a novice.
Van Gaal, 62, has done everything with the Champions League and domestic crowns to his name at Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich amid two spells running the Dutch national side.
From such a perspective, Giggs is back to square one. As raw in the managerial game as he was when he was racing around The Cliff training ground trying to impress Fergie. Now he needs to charm Van Gaal.
Should he have been retained by the querulous Dutch martinet? Probably not.
There is a temptation to linger in the past, in life as much as football, to think about how great things once were at United. This is fool's gold. This is old news.
In the unforgiving world of football, former glories under Ferguson, or what Giggs once produced, mean little any more. Memories are worthless currency. Only the here and now matters as Moyes discovered.
So much for Moyes being 'The Chosen One'.
A plane flying over Old Trafford with a banner reading 'Wrong One – Moyes Out' in March tells you that football fans are as fickle as they come.
When United fell from grace last season, they fell hard. Because they did not see it coming. Nor could many handle or accept it with any sense of decorum.
One suspects a misplaced sense of entitlement played a leading role in United's startling fall from prominence over the past season. It makes one think that Moyes never had a chance when he succeeded Fergie.
Better to be the guy who arrives after the guy who came after Fergie. Van Gaal is that bloke.
It is broken, and needs fixing. It was probably broken when Fergie was still there, but somehow his healing powers managed to rinse another season or two out of a wobbling squad.
Some players clearly stopped playing for Moyes. Giggs was never afforded enough regular appearances under Moyes to accuse him of such conduct, but the Welshman will know the truth. He will know if he and some other players contributed to Moyes's downfall.
One suspects plenty did. Former captain Roy Keane intimated that Moyes had been stabbed in the back by a disunited dressing room.
To be certain of a clean dressing room, Van Gaal had to splash full disinfectant, but Giggs remains from the wreckage of seventh spot in the standings, no European competition and no trophies.
When Van Gaal arrives, he will have in place a goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek and a scout Marcel Bout to study future opposition.
The former England goalkeeper Chris Woods departs his role as goalkeeping coach. Despite the success of Woods in helping to encourage noticeable improvements within the frame of Davd de Gea, this is the way it must go.
Van Gaal has to dismantle this squad, cliques and the remnants of the old guard.
Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt played alongside Giggs in their 'Class of 92'. They formed an unlikely coaching quartet when Giggs was appointed interim manager for the final four games of last season. But Neville, Scholes and Butt should have no place in coaching the new squad.
Why Neville did not follow Moyes out of the door is quite bewildering.
Whatever is made of his mistakes, the Moyes era ended in eight doomed months of management with people trying to undermine his approach. Van Gaal has decided to retain Giggs when nostalgia should have been dispensed with.
But a sense of purpose is needed in more places than just the backroom staff. Patrice Evra should join Rio Ferdidand and Nemanja Vidic in departing.
If this is supposed to be a fresh start, let it be a fresh start. Keeping Giggs leaves one foot in the past. That may not be healthy with Giggs's umbilical cord to the watching Fergie noticeable. Van Gaal could already have made his first mistake before he starts the job.
There could be more blood shed under Van Gaal than Moyes if it all goes wrong. And it could all quickly unravel if players with no loyalty to Van Gaal are recruited. Van Gaal is not the sort of man who sees mistakes in himself. Only others.
"I am who I am: confident, arrogant, dominant, honest, hard-working and innovative,” he said before washing up at Bayern Munich.
One chapter ends, another one begins. But the latest era is hardly a clean break from the previous one.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ryan Giggs
- Louis van Gaal
- Manchester United
- David Moyes
- Sir Alex Ferguson