Ryan Giggs makes a difference his way as Wales reign begins

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The first change was sartorial. Whereas his predecessor, Chris Coleman, always wore a suit, Ryan Giggs marked his opening two games as Wales manager by taking to the dugout in a tracksuit.


The life of the successor can be a difficult one, particularly when the man before you has overseen the most successful period in Welsh football history.


But even with recent achievements in mind - and the fact his managerial mentors were Sir Alex Ferguson and Louis van Gaal - Giggs has always insisted he would do things his way.


"I have to be my own man and I am," says the former Wales and Manchester United captain.


"I have my own ideas, but also you want the team spirit to continue."


Giggs was true to his word in his first two matches in charge of Wales. There were changes, but they were subtle.


The 44-year-old could not have wished for a better start, a 6-0 thrashing of China in which Gareth Bale's hat-trick made him Wales' leading goalscorer.


No shame in losing to Uruguay

No matter how convincing the manner of that opening victory, however, Giggs knew Uruguay would pose a far sterner examination in the China Cup final - and so it proved.


Led by their formidable attacking partnership of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, marshalled in defence by their captain and imposing centre-back Diego Godin, this was a vastly experienced and skilful Uruguay side.


They finished above Argentina in qualifying for this summer's World Cup and the bulk of this team contributed to their 2011 Copa America triumph, so there was no shame in Wales losing 1-0.


"It was a great learning curve for the players and a great test which I thought they stood up to," says Giggs.


"What I want from my team is to go to the end and I thought we did."


'If it's not broken, why fix it?' - Giggs

Having guided Wales to their first semi-final at Euro 2016 - only their second appearance at a major tournament - Coleman was the nation's greatest manager, but it was not an easy ride.


He was appointed in extremely difficult circumstances in January 2012, following the death of his friend and predecessor Gary Speed three months earlier.


Coleman said he initially struggled to impose his own style on the team, loath to change too much with a group of young players damaged by the loss of a manager to whom they had all grown close.


Giggs did not face a situation as sensitive upon his arrival two months ago, but he was mindful of the strong bond his squad had formed with Coleman over a tumultuous five-year spell which saw them plummet in the Fifa world rankings before scaling new heights at Euro 2016.


"I don't have to do a lot. I have my own rules and principles, but it's about striking that balance," says Giggs.


"It's about putting your own ideas across but also, if it's not broken, why fix it?"


The former Manchester United captain aimed to strike a balance between continuity and change even before he named his first Wales squad.


His first job was to decide on his backroom staff, and his choices embodied that balance - recruiting two new figures in assistant manager Albert Stuivenberg and fitness coach Tony Strudwick, while retaining two existing members of the team, goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts and Osian Roberts, who was one of Coleman's assistants.


When it came to his team selections against China and Uruguay, Giggs found a similar balance - a nod to the past but with his own twist.


"I played in the first game three at the back with wing-backs and the second game I played four at the back when we didn't have the ball and switched it to exactly the same as in the first game," Giggs explains.


"For two reasons really. One, we thought it was the best way to go about making it difficult for Uruguay.


"Second, we're building for the future, we don't just want to have one formation.


"We want to be able to be flexible, depending on the players available and who we're playing against."


Tactically, it was a case of evolution rather than revolution, after Coleman had used a 5-3-2 system which developed into a 3-4-2-1 before switching to four-man defences towards the end of his reign.


Starting with what seemed a replica of Coleman's 3-4-2-1 formation, Giggs' system would sometimes morph into a 4-4-2 with a flexible midfield diamond.



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