The latest footballing figure to feature in the Fifty Defining Fixtures series from Amberley Publishing is ex-Manchester United and Wales legend Ryan Giggs.
These books are not intended as a full biographical analysis of a player or manager’s career, but rather an overview which the author illustrates through their choice of key games. And in that regard there is a place for this type of formulaic book, as long as they are done well.
However, in this case the result is a bit of a mixed bag. The Introduction including appearance statistics and awards provides a useful summary of Giggs’ career both as player and his management role at Manchester United.
There then follows the fifty games as selected by the author Tony Matthews. In amongst them are all those that you might expect, Giggs’ debuts for both club and country, significant wins and losses in various domestic and European competitions and that of his final appearance for the Red Devils in May 2014. Notes are produced for some of the fixtures detailed, something that would have been useful for all the games selected.
Given that Giggs played in 1,031 senior games for club and country trying to pick just fifty games is no easy task and many diehard Old Trafford fans will have their own ideas about the choices made by Matthews.
Where this edition lets itself down is with regard to the attention to detail. For instance, on page 12, the reader is told that, “as a schoolboy, Ryan also enjoyed a game of Rugby League and represented his school and starred for the Salford District XV.” Rugby League teams contain thirteen players, Rugby Union have fifteen. The book also contains a number of other typos which detract from enjoying the read.
In terms of the writing, the overuse of the exclamation mark is a problem throughout the book and there is also some strange language used. On one occasion Matthews describes a corner as a “flag-kick” and on another the first-half of a game as the “first session”.
Another detail which proved to be irksome was the inconsistency around the listing of the home and away teams correctly, with Manchester United sometimes listed first even though they were the visitors. It might possibly seem a small detail, but when added up with the other problems it just makes this edition from the series feel sloppily produced.
Ryan Giggs will forever be regarded as a Manchester United great, so it’s a pity that this book doesn’t live up to his reputation.