The past 10 years has seen a number of extraordinary footballers hang up their boots.

In fact, so many have ended their playing careers between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2020 that you could quite feasibly create an entire league of teams and have them compete for the crown of the greatest ever. Now there's an idea, Mr Infantino...

While we wait for FIFA to cotton onto that concept, we'll have to make do with a single XI - plus a manager - of those who have stepped away from football this decade

Have a look to see who made the cut for a most difficult selection...

 

GOALKEEPER: EDWIN VAN DER SAR

A winner of eight league titles with Manchester United and Ajax, twice a Champions League winner and the second-most-capped Netherlands international ever, Van der Sar called time on his career in 2016. He is now Ajax's CEO.

DEFENDER: JAVIER ZANETTI

A candidate for the greatest right-back in history, Zanetti ended his 22-year career in 2014 after winning 16 trophies with Inter, including the treble of 2009-10, and 143 Argentina caps. Practically a one-club man, he is a vice-president with the Nerazzurri today.

DEFENDER: FABIO CANNAVARO

The last defender to win the Ballon d'Or, earned by leading Italy to the 2006 World Cup with some of the finest defensive performances ever seen in tournament football, Cannavaro was also twice a LaLiga champion with Real Madrid. He is Guangzhou Evergrande head coach these days.

DEFENDER: CARLES PUYOL

Centre-back supreme for the best Spain and Barcelona teams of all time, Puyol won 20 major honours for club and country, including the 2010 World Cup, where he scored the semi-final winner. He retired at the end of 2013-14, for once without lifting a trophy with Barca.

DEFENDER: ROBERTO CARLOS

Four LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, plus the 2002 World Cup and two Copas America with Brazil, but *that* free-kick back in 1997 is probably enough on its own to get him into this team. Roberto Carlos retired with Delhi Dynamos in 2015.

MIDFIELDER: CLAUDE MAKELELE

So good, they named a position after him, even though hardly any midfielders now play as he did. Makelele was the master of defensive midfield, a league champion with Real Madrid and Chelsea and a Champions League winner. He now has a youth coach and mentoring role at Stamford Bridge.

MIDFIELDER: XAVI

Perhaps the best ever central midfield metronome, Xavi passed his way to 25 major honours with Barcelona, plus one World Cup and two European Championships in 133 Spain appearances. He also won four trophies with Al Sadd, where he retired to become head coach this year.

MIDFIELDER: RYAN GIGGS

Arguably Manchester United's finest ever player, Wales boss Giggs amassed 963 appearances for the club. He won 25 trophies, including 13 top-flight titles - more than every club in England, except United, Liverpool and Arsenal. He retired in 2014, at the age of 40.

FORWARD: RONALDINHO

Barcelona's brilliant Brazilian led their revival from 2003 to 2008, winning two LaLiga titles, the Champions League and a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans in the Clasico. A Serie A title with AC Milan followed, as did the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro in 2013.

FORWARD: RIVALDO

The 1999 Ballon d'Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year, Rivaldo was a star for Barcelona from 1997 to 2002 but was still playing in 2015 in his homeland, 24 years on from his professional debut. He also won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, alongside Ronaldinho and...

FORWARD: RONALDO

'O Fenomeno' completed Brazil's magical trident of 2002. Ronaldo won trophies with Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and Corinthians, where he retired in 2011. Without his injuries, he would likely be thought of as history's greatest number nine. Some think he is anyway.

MANAGER: ALEX FERGUSON

Manchester United rather went off a cliff after Ferguson retired in 2013, having won league title number 13 to add to 25 other major honours for the Red Devils and Aberdeen. The famous hairdryer still blows from time to time from the stands during United matches.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs says Gareth Bale remains in love with football and is more than capable of handling the criticism he has received in recent months.

Bale has been through a somewhat tumultuous time at Real Madrid, with questions over his commitment to the club arising amid form and fitness issues.

He courted controversy last month when he posed with a flag that read: "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order," following his country's victory over Hungary that sealed a place at Euro 2020.

However, Giggs believes Bale's vast experience means he can easily deal with any negativity.

"It's all noise that you can't control and it's about blocking out that noise. If you don't hear it then it's not going to affect you," Giggs told Sky Sports News.

"Gareth is at one of the biggest clubs in the world, he's won four Champions Leagues, he's been through everything so he can handle it [the criticism].

"A lot of people have sort of questioned his love for the game. He still loves the game and he loves playing it.

"He loves winning, he loves scoring goals, he loves making goals. It's not a problem to Gareth with the experience he's got."

A delighted Ryan Giggs hailed one of the best days of his life after Wales secured a place at Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Hungary.

Aaron Ramsey was the hero in Cardiff, scoring a goal in each half as Wales clinched the second qualifying spot behind Croatia in Group E – earning a shot at matching their Euro 2016 exploits following a semi-final run.

An uneven start to his first campaign in charge meant Giggs' men needed to win both of their closing matches to progress.

Victory in Azerbaijan over the weekend before success before their fervent home support saw them come good when it mattered.

"It's doesn't get any better," Wales manager Giggs told Sky Sports. "It's amazing. From where we were in the summer with those two defeats [away to Croatia and Hungary], credit to the lads the way they've come back.

"They've show grit, determination and quality. It's one of the best days of my life."

Ramsey's injury problems meant the Juventus star was making his first start of qualification on Tuesday.

"He's just showed that quality, that class," Giggs said. "The finishes… we missed him, but better late than never, I suppose."

Having never managed to represent Wales at a major tournament as a player, Manchester United great Giggs will revel in leading his country on such a grand stage.

"To be honest I haven't really thought about that," he added, referencing those playing disappointments.

"It's one of the greatest days of my life. There was a lot of hard work put in. Not only am I blessed with a good set of players but also the best staff I could ask for.

"The atmosphere every time we play in Cardiff… the fans are part of it. I was watching it in 2016 – you could tell the fans loved it then and they'll love this even more."

Gareth Bale ribbed Aaron Ramsey over his fitness record after the Juventus man fired Wales to the Euro 2020 finals with a brace in the 2-0 win over Hungary.

Needing victory to progress as automatic qualifiers from Group E at Hungary's expense, Ramsey marked his first start of an injury-ruined campaign with a headed opener from Bale's 15th-minute cross.

The former Arsenal favourite was on the mark again early in the second half as Wales made it back-to-back European Championship qualifications.

"It’s about time he contributed, isn't it?" Bale told Sky Sports.

"Obviously he's a world-class player, you like to have him back. He showed again what a great player he is, scoring the goals that helped us through."

Wales were the surprise package of Euro 2016, with Ramsey and Bale to the fore as they reached the semi-finals.

Now both senior members in an increasingly youthful squad under Ryan Giggs, Ramsey was desperate to secure another outing on the biggest stage.

"We had the best time of our lives in France," he told Sky Sports. "We missed out on the [2018] World Cup, so it was a big effort.

"I missed a lot of this campaign but it's all worthwhile. Chipping in with a couple of goals is amazing.

"It means everything. We inspired a nation last time out. We wanted to do it again.

"There are some players here who haven’t experienced this. We wanted to give them a taste of it as well. We've got a great squad, a lot of great players coming through."

Speaking alongside Bale, Ramsey added: "There's still some life left in our legs yet. We're enjoying it. We'll enjoy tonight now as well."

Aaron Ramsey was Wales' hero as Ryan Giggs' side secured qualification for Euro 2020 with a 2-0 home win over Hungary.

One of the stand-out performers in his country's surprise run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, Ramsey was making his first start of the current campaign following persisted fitness problems.

But the Juventus midfielder re-announced himself in style at a fervent Cardiff City Stadium, scoring a goal in each half as Wales deservedly claimed the win they needed to leapfrog Hungary and take the second automatic qualifying spot in Group E.

Gareth Bale, Daniel James and the goalscorer buzzed effectively behind imposing targetman Kieffer Moore throughout, although Giggs was also indebted to some first-half heroics from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Wales began confidently and, when Adam Lang made the mistake of showing Bale on to his left foot on the right flank, the Real Madrid star whipped in an inviting cross for Ramsey to gleefully nod home.

Another wonderful Bale delivery – this time right-footed – saw Moore head narrowly wide in the 29th minute.

Hennessy produced a remarkable double-save to thwart Dominik Szoboszlai and Roland Sallai at close quarters in the 34th minute and it would prove a pivotal moment.

Instead of chasing the game, Wales were able to resume in composed fashion after the break and they soon had breathing space.

Moore – a handful in the air throughout for the Hungary defence - knocked down Ben Davies' 47th-minute set-piece and Ramsey, left negligently unmarked for a man of his finishing capabilities, made no mistake.

Giggs' eye-catching attacking midfield trio started to run through their repertoire, with Bale fizzing a free-kick narrowly over before James cut in to curl a shot just beyond the top-right corner.

An awful challenge from Istvan Kovacs on fellow substitute Ethan Ampadu highlighted Hungary's simmering frustration, while Peter Gulacsi saved with his boot to deny Ramsey the match ball 15 minutes from time.

What does it mean? Back-to-back Euros for Wales

Although UEFA's expansion to a 24-team tournament has leant a helping hand, Wales' achievement in reaching consecutive European Championships is a significant one for a country whose previous major tournament was the 1958 World Cup. Giggs has remained committed to letting promising youthful players flourish alongside his established stars, despite a rocky start in the group, and deserves his share of credit.

Rambo draws first and last blood

Wales got themselves in position without Ramsey but there is no doubt they go up a level with the former Arsenal man in their line-up. Fitness permitting, no nation will relish facing Bale, James and Ramsey in tandem come June.

Lang error costly for Hungary

That said, there are better ways to combat Bale than ushering him on to his lethal left foot to set up the opener. Hungary's night might still have been one of savour but for Lang's lapse.

What's next

Hungary get another bite at qualification in March's play-offs – the dream of turning out in the finals at Budapest's Puskas Arena still alive. Bale and his team-mates can dream of another unlikely tilt at European glory.

Gareth Bale believes the euphoric feeling of Wales' run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016 will spur Ryan Giggs' side on against Hungary.

Following a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan on Saturday, Wales head into their final qualifying match knowing a win will be enough to secure a place at Euro 2020.

Bale scored three goals at the previous finals as Wales - with Chris Coleman in charge - reached the last four in France, going out to eventual champions Portugal.

The Real Madrid forward has claimed Wales can use the experiences gained from three years ago, plus their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, as inspiration heading into Tuesday's crucial clash in Cardiff.

"I think we can use both of [the experiences] to our advantage," Bale told a news conference.

"We have got the kind of euphoria of qualifying for our first Euros and doing so well at the competition that we really want to do that again.

"We've also got the negatives of knowing how it feels to miss out on qualifying for a tournament like we did with the World Cup.

"We can see how we don't want to feel after the game. We know prior to this game we can push and push not to feel like that again, because it's not a feeling you want in the dressing room after the game.

"The experience of qualifying for the Euros was massive and something I've never done before and to do it again might be a bit more impressive.

"It's going to stand in equal stead as last time, but we can't think about that just yet. We have another important match first and we have to focus on that as a team and a squad."

Giggs confirmed on Monday that Bale and Aaron Ramsey, who has been hampered by a thigh problem, are both ready to start against Hungary.

"I'm ready. I hadn't played in four weeks so it was important to get 60 minutes into my legs and get some match sharpness," Bale added.

"We spoke at the start of the week about trying to get 60 minutes and hopefully being a couple [of goals] up before I came off, so it worked out well, no problems, and I'm ready to go for Tuesday."

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are ready to start for Wales in Tuesday's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Hungary, manager Ryan Giggs has confirmed.

Real Madrid forward Bale made his first appearance in a month in the 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Saturday, a result that kept alive Wales' hopes of qualifying automatically for next year's tournament.

Bale, who has been struggling with a calf injury, was replaced in the second half by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has been hampered by recent thigh trouble.

Giggs expects to be able to have both players in the starting line-up for the first time in their qualifying campaign when they face Hungary in Cardiff, a match in which the winners will secure a place at the Euro 2020 finals.

"We've got a few players who played 90 minutes for the first time against Azerbaijan, so it is important they get the recovery in over the next few days," Giggs said on Monday.

"The lads who got minutes needed minutes. It's a bit of a balancing act, the players I know who can't play 90 minutes - that will obviously influence the selection.

"Yeah, [Bale and Ramsey] are both ready to start. Gareth and Aaron, with Chris Mepham and Ethan Ampadu, all players who haven't had an awful lot of football, got the minutes they needed.

"We were able to get Gareth off and it was important to get Aaron on the pitch. Everyone in the squad is available to start."

Giggs has challenged his players to capitalise on the good fortunate of Croatia's win over Slovakia on Saturday.

The World Cup finalists came from a goal down to win 3-1 and book their own place at Euro 2020, while also ensuring Wales and Hungary have their fates in their own hands.

"We had the high of winning the game but when Slovakia go ahead you are fearing the worst, but Croatia are fantastic at home," Giggs said.

"They showed their quality. We needed favours and we got those favours. Now it is time for us to capitalise.

"It's in our hands. It's a great, exciting challenge for us but we need to finish the job – it will be a very, very difficult game."

Ryan Giggs is hopeful of starting Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in Wales' crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Hungary after using both players in the win over Azerbaijan.

Bale made his first appearance in a month on Saturday as Wales eased to a 2-0 victory in Baku that ensures their bid to qualify automatically for next year's tournament will go down to the final game.

The Real Madrid forward has been carrying a calf injury and lasted an hour before being replaced by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has also struggled for playing time of late due to a thigh problem.

Giggs has yet to have both players on the pitch during qualifying but is optimistic of that changing against Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday,

"We've still got to assess them," he said at his post-match news conference. "Getting Gareth off pretty early on and giving Aaron some minutes helped.

"Aaron showed his quality when he came on, but it's a quick turnaround. Gareth was blowing a little bit, which is understandable, but hopefully I'll have the option of starting both on Tuesday."

Wales are now unbeaten in four Group E games since back-to-back away losses in June and are within a point of second-place Hungary, while Slovakia are a point behind ahead of their game in hand against Croatia later on Saturday.

Victory for Wales against Hungary, coupled with Slovakia failing to take maximum points from their remaining two matches, would be enough for Giggs' men to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2020.

"We've had four good performances in a row, which we needed after the two difficult games in the summer," Giggs said. "We needed to be strong and we have been. 

"I was not happy with the number of corners we gave away, but they never really troubled us in open play and we could have scored a few more goals.

"Depending on the Croatia-Slovakia score, it sets us up nicely for Tuesday's game."

Kieffer Moore doubled his goals tally in a Wales shirt with a 10th-minute opener at Bakcell Arena, while Harry Wilson was also on target in the first half of a comfortable away victory.

It was Wales' first away win since October 2018 and Giggs added: "Some of our play was outstanding.

"Since the Azerbaijan game at home we've improved. We've played some difficult teams but overall the performances have improved. 

"We started to gain some sort of momentum, which isn't easy in international football. The lads came into camp really confident. It doesn't matter who's come in, they've all contributed. 

"It's not an easy place to come, so it's up there with one of our best performances."

Cristiano Ronaldo says he would have been "an imbecile" if he failed to learn from the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs during his early days at Manchester United.

The Portugal international made his name at Old Trafford after joining the Premier League club from Sporting CP in 2003 at the age of 18.

He scored 118 goals in six seasons with United and has since starred for Real Madrid and current side Juventus, recently netting his 700th career goal for club and country.

When asked how he developed into such a prolific forward, Ronaldo told France Football: "By using my brain. If you've got a little intelligence, you look and take example from those who are doing things better than you. 

"That's what I did when I was in Manchester with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rio Ferdinand… if you don't learn from guys like that, you're an imbecile. 

"The goal isn't to imitate but to take aspects from those who are the best and adapt it to your own personality. That's what I did. I had some talent and I watched them.

"Sir Alex Ferguson also taught me a lot, and I realised I had the potential to score, not only dribble and pass. I started to think of being a complete player without any weakness.

"I could score with my right foot, my left foot and my head. I'm strong and I'm quick. If you have this and a real ethic and a good lifestyle, you can still do it at 34-and-a-half."

Ronaldo has won five Ballons d'Or and has been shortlisted for this year's award after an impressive debut campaign in Serie A with Juve.

Now into his 18th campaign at senior level, the Portuguese remains as driven as ever to remain at the top of his game.

Reflecting on Juve's 2-1 comeback win at home to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League last week, Ronaldo said: "They refused to play and parked the bus in front of their goal.

"It was hard to score. I didn't do it and I was frustrated at the end. That's normal. The most important thing is that the team wins.

"But when I went back to the dressing room, I chilled out. After the match, I went to dinner with friends. I got home at four in the morning. I had a glass of iced water before bed. I slept until 10 then I had my breakfast.

"At 11, I went to work in the gym. If you don't have that discipline every day, you can't stay at the top for 15 years."

Ryan Giggs described Lionel Messi as a "once in a lifetime player" after being asked for his verdict on the eternal debate over who is better between the Barcelona forward and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The superstar duo dominated the Ballon d'Or voting for more than a decade, winning it five times apiece before Luka Modric broke their stranglehold in 2018.

Messi has spent his entire senior career with Barcelona while Ronaldo has starred for Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Juventus.

Giggs played alongside Ronaldo at Old Trafford and said he will always back his former team-mate but could not hide away from the fact a player of Messi's quality is a one-off.

"Obviously I lean towards Ronaldo a little bit because I played with him and saw him develop as a player," he told DAZN. "But Messi is a genius, a once-in-a-lifetime player. It's as simple as that."

Giggs is now in charge of the Wales senior side, where he coaches Ronaldo's ex-team mate Gareth Bale, who is in his seventh season at Madrid. 

Bale came close to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu in the last transfer window, but a move to China collapsed and he has been used seven times in all competitions this season.

Giggs found Bale's situation in the Spanish capital unusual given what he has achieved at the club.

"It's strange. From the outside, it looks strange," he said. "For the quality he possesses and what he's won there: four Champions Leagues.

"I'm his coach for Wales, he's recently been my captain, and is a good professional. He's a player that can turn a game on its head like he did against Liverpool for Madrid."

Ryan Giggs claimed Daniel James was being "streetwise" when a heavy collision left him briefly motionless during Wales' clash with Croatia in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Medical staff rushed to the Manchester United winger's aid after he was clattered by Domagoj Vida in the first half of Sunday's 1-1 draw in Cardiff.

James finished the match and later insisted he had not been knocked out, with tests showing no signs of concussion.

"He stayed down and was a bit streetwise," Wales boss Giggs said in his post-match news conference.

"He told the doctors, 'I'm not moving, I'm just sitting still.' Not to get anyone sent off but he was just using his nous.

"Like I said, at half-time he did all of the concussion tests and he was fine."

Speaking after the match to Sky Sports, James added: "There were a few tackles flying in, but you always expect it in these games.

"I'm fine. I think he just caught me in the head, but I didn't get knocked out fortunately." 

Gareth Bale's strike in first-half stoppage time earned Wales a point following Nikola Vlasic's ninth-minute opener.

The result left Giggs' men fourth in Group E and likely needing six points from their final two qualifiers to have any hope of reaching Euro 2020.

Ryan Giggs was optimistic Wales superstar Gareth Bale had only suffered from cramp as he hobbled out of a combative clash with Croatia on Sunday.

Bale scored Wales' equaliser in Cardiff as they drew 1-1 with Group E leaders Croatia in Euro 2020 qualifying, although the result leaves Giggs' men with plenty of work to do.

The Real Madrid winger was one of three Wales players who appeared to take a knock, with Dan James recovering from an early blow, Ethan Ampadu later substituted off, and Bale then limping badly after indicating a calf issue.

Giggs assured both James and Ampadu were fine, while he was hopeful on Bale's status.

"Gareth's just got a bit of cramp towards the end," he told Sky Sports. "He didn't want to come off, though.

"It was a fantastic performance from Gareth, it was just a shame that he did get that - it was about 10 minutes really at the end, so we were down one player really.

"But it looks like it's just cramp."

The James and Ampadu incidents were both rugged aerial challenges that earned yellow cards, while Luka Modric injured himself while hacking at Harry Wilson.

Giggs cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines but insisted his issue was with Croatia slowing Wales' attacks rather than with the strength of the tackles.

Asked if he was upset by Croatia's approach, the coach replied: "Yeah, a little bit. But they're smart players.

"It's not about looking for players to get booked - they're just stopping our flow, which they're good at. It's something we need to get better at.

"They're smart. Good players and smart, as well. It was more the stopping of the flow of us counter-attacking that I was complaining about really. It's a physical game and we've come through it well."

Wales must now win their remaining two matches - against Azerbaijan and Hungary - and hope Slovakia drop points, but Giggs is happy with the permutations.

"We're in it. After these two games [including a draw in Slovakia], I wanted to be in it," he said. "We've got two games which won't be easy against two tough teams.

"We'll look forward to those games - it's exciting. Get it down to that second game with Hungary here."

James added: "[Croatia] have shown what a great team they are, top of the group. They came here and I know we lost in the summer but it was about bouncing back from that. Today, we got a good result."

Gareth Bale says he wants to finally get one over on Luka Modric when Croatia visit Wales in Euro 2020 qualifying.

The Real Madrid team-mates will be the two biggest stars on show for Sunday's Group E game in Cardiff.

Croatia lead the pool on 13 points with Wales six back in fourth spot, although Ryan Giggs' side have a game in hand.

Wales drew away to Slovakia on Thursday, Bale sustaining a knee injury, but he is expected to be fit to face Croatia.

The forward is looking forward to testing himself against Ballon d'Or winner Modric, Croatia having won the reverse game 2-1 in June.

"Whenever we have played we've always lost by one goal and it’s always been quite a tight game," Bale told reporters.

"We know what a great team they are, they had a great World Cup and they have shown year after year how good they actually are.

"We know it is going to be very tough, but I think being at home gives us a little bit more of an advantage and we know the Welsh crowd will be behind us.

"We've played together for a long time in Tottenham and Real Madrid so we know each other quite well. It would be nice to get one over on him finally because they have beaten us a few times in the past."

Bale is one booking away from missing a qualifier through suspension, which he accepts will be on his mind against Croatia.

"I can't make too many silly tackles or anything, I have to be mindful of that," Bale said. "I don't want to miss any games for Wales and especially at the crunch time of the group.

"I guess I have to be clever with what I'm doing but maybe I have to expect that someone is going to wind me up to get me suspended."

Gareth Bale admitted to playing with "anger" amid uncertainty over his Real Madrid future heading into Wales' Euro 2020 qualifier.

Zinedine Zidane told Bale he was free to leave during the transfer window, however, the Wales star remained in Madrid to force his way into the team.

Bale has scored two goals and supplied two assists in LaLiga this term, though there has been reports claiming the 30-year-old wants to depart the Spanish capital at season's end.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's qualifier against Slovakia, Bale said: "You play with a lot of emotion. Anger comes into it of course, but I haven't got anything to clear my mind about.

"I try and give my best whether here [with Wales] or in Madrid and I will continue to do that."

Wales manager Ryan Giggs added: "I think now, looking from the outside, things have improved. The way that he's playing - which is all that footballers want to do, they want to play, they want to get minutes, they want to do well - I've always said he's at a fantastic club.

"Of course, it would have unsettled him because it was apparently very close for him going.

"But things might have changed. Things do change quite quickly in football and now he's playing, he's loved, he's happy, and I expect him to carry on doing what he's doing for Real Madrid.

"If Gareth Bale is at your club and he's training well and he gets the chance to play, he's always going to keep you interested because he can turn a game on its head, he can score goals and he's such an asset.

"So I'm not surprised in that respect. I was surprised with what happened in the summer - I think everyone from the outside thought it was a bit strange, but it seems like everything has gone a bit quiet now.

"I think that's all you ask for - for players to be in good form for their clubs and then take it into the international arena."

Wales head to Trnava fourth in Group E in Euro 2020 qualifying, four points adrift of leaders Croatia and three behind second-placed Slovakia.

Ryan Giggs says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "unfortunate" to be managing in the same era as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, but he wants Manchester United to give his former team-mate time to turn the club's fortunes around.

United will go in search of their first away win in eight Premier League matches when they travel to Newcastle United on Sunday, and Solskjaer is under pressure to deliver an improvement following a string of drab performances.

The game comes at the end of a week in which Solskjaer's side looked flat as they drew 1-1 at home with Arsenal and 0-0 away at AZ Alkmaar, failing to muster a shot on target in the second match.

Speaking at the Cardiff Breakfast Club, Giggs came out in support of the man with whom he shared 11 glorious years as a player at Old Trafford.

"It's a tough job at the moment," said Giggs.

"What Manchester United have had in the last four to five years is a mix of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho players.

"Ole is trying to get back to what Manchester United used to be, picking young hungry players - like Dan James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire.

"But he's unfortunate in a way to be in the same era as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola."

Solskjaer's only previous stint in Premier League management came in 2014 when he lasted just nine months in charge of Cardiff City.

The former Norway striker was at the helm as the Bluebirds were relegated from the top flight and was dismissed following their poor start to the 2014-15 season in the Championship.

After 10 months as United boss, Solskjaer's managerial credentials remain the subject of heated discussion among the club's supporters, but Giggs feels it is too soon to judge the 46-year-old.

Giggs pointed to the patience shown with some of the Premier League's most successful managers in recent seasons, saying: "Klopp is in his fourth year at Liverpool. Pep established Man City during that time. Mauricio Pochettino has had six years with Spurs.

"Ole has to be given time, too. You need that time to mould your team into the way you want them to play, although whether managers always get that time in this day and age is another thing."

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