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Ryan Giggs: Man Utd on best behaviour in Sydney

He's seen and done it all in more than two decades at Old Trafford, from drinking sessions to European titles, and Ryan Giggs does not anticipate a return to wild days of old

Work hard and play harder was the motto for so long in British football, and there remains a living, breathing, playing link with that bygone era.

Ryan Giggs, 39 years young, is set to begin his 24th season as a member of Manchester United's first team when the 2013-14 campaign kicks off.

An extraordinary achievement for any athlete, such longevity would surely have been denied him if Giggs' emergence had not coincided with a sea change in the attitudes of professional football in Britain, a sea change driven in no small part by Alex Ferguson.

Upon his arrival in Manchester from a glittering spell in charge of Aberdeen, Ferguson found a dressing room with deep reserves of talent, and an even deeper capacity to sink beer.

The likes of skipper Bryan Robson, gifted but flawed centre-back Paul McGrath and forward Norman Whiteside were among the star players whose first destination after training was not the ice bath or massage table, but the pub.

Ferguson soon set to work changing these habits, but callow youth Giggs was still vulnerable during his fledgling Old Trafford days, and had to be prised away from the negative influence of party boy Lee Sharpe.

A world away from England captains sinking piss in the boozer, Giggs is still here, and still doing his thing, but with a different man at the helm.

Ferguson, as we all know, finally called time on his extraordinary tenure in charge of United at the end of last season, bequeathing the hot-seat to fellow Scotsman David Moyes.

Moyes and his new charges have jetted off to Asia and Australia, with the imperative of selling shirts now being at least as important as getting fit during a 21st century pre-season.

As much 'Mr Reliable' in front of the cameras as he is on the pitch, Giggs was on message as always at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday.

"We're here for a long time, the longest [stay] on our pre-season tour," he said ahead of United's friendly against the A-League All Stars at ANZ Stadium.

"So there's a balance between working hard Tuesday and Wednesday in training, but we've also got a bit of free time, a bit of down-time. I'm really looking forward to working hard and then seeing the sights of Sydney.

"It's all the lead-up to a big night on Saturday."

Big nights of a different kind were also referenced on Sunday, with Giggs asked if there was likely to be a repeat of the unauthorised nocturnal activities which left some players - ex Sydney FC marquee Dwight Yorke reportedly chief among them - the worse for wear during their previous visit to Australia in 1999.

A reformed figure after being marched out of a party by Alex Ferguson himself early in his career, consummate professional Giggs was unlikely to have been corrupted by the incorrigible Yorke 14 years ago.

But the knowing smile on his face as he awkwardly assured reporters - and Moyes - that there was no danger of such events taking place again indicated the memories of that trip were still fresh in his mind.

But perhaps Moyes, keen to begin adding to his predecessor's glittering haul of silverware, could do worse than tacitly encourage his players to let their hair down.

After all, Yorke and co. may well have downed more pints than they ran laps in 1999, but it didn't stop the then-treble holders going on to win the next two domestic titles, making it three in a row for the first time in the Premier League era.

Now those are some team bonding results Moyes and his new coaching staff would love to see.

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