Welsh International Football had been in the doldrums. Year upon year of stagnation since Mark Hughes took us to within one play-off match of the Euros. We had to endure 6 years of John Toshack, for heavens sake. That's not something I would wish upon my mortal enemies. But then, things changed. Gary Speed left Sheffield United and hopped on board as manager of Wales. After an auspicious start, Wales grew in stature under Speedo. The 1-0 loss to England at Wembley was a turning point; our Wembley performance had been startling and we'd come close to scoring a famous result. We then went on a run that saw us rise culminating in Wales being awared the 'Best Movers' award by FIFA.
But then it all came down in the most horrendous of circumstances. Gary Speed's was found hanged in his house on the 27th November. The shock of his death hit me like the death of a loved one. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Perhaps the circumstances of his death were the most shocking. A tragic end to a wonderful man's life.
The debate about who should succeed Gary Speed has rumbled on for a little while now. Dutch Ray (Raymond Verheijen) threw his hat into the ring by stating that it's what Gary had expressed he wanted in a meeting with FAW chiefs. Iwan Roberts claimed it was “selfish” for him to put this on Twitter so close to the funeral of Speedo. I think Iwan Roberts is selfish by having a media career (though he did write a cracking book). The only, seemingly, concrete candidate at the moment is Chris Coleman. Fresh from a short-stint at Larissa in Greece, the media bandwagon for Cookie to become manager is seemingly gaining momentum. It's tediously grim.
Chris Coleman is about as tactically astute as a net curtain
To be fair to Chrissy Coleman, he did alright at Fulham. Started well and got them to a top-half finish despite being tipped for relegation. It's his post-Fulham career that things took a turn for the worse. He spent five months in Sociedad before jacking it in because he and the new president fell out and then joined Coventry. Coventry isn't an easy gig and hasn't been for a few years now. But Chris Coleman managed to make more of a meal of it than Heston does with eggs. His football was negative; sideways passing, long balls when it did go forward and he played Clinton Morrison. His focus on defence saw Coventry score 47 goals in 46 games. A dire record. A season best summed up by the fact that Kieron Westwood won player of the season.
His punditry is about as astute as a 14 year old's Twitter feed
Alan Shearer was a great striker. But he's a shit pundit. Of course, it doesn't always translate. But when Coleman's insights on games are, essentially, repeating what his co-commentator said in more words then I don't know what he must take note of as a manager. He offers nothing of any worth as a pundit and that doesn't inspire any confidence. I imagine his managers notebook to be filled with inane drivel that his assistant manager has noted and Cookie has just reworded it.
Whether Raymond Verheijen's tweet was ill-timed is a different story for a different day but the sentiment was clear
He trusts Steve Kean
To be fair to Chrissy, he showed incredible loyalty to Steve Kean after becoming colleagues at Swansea in 1987. Steve Kean has been assistant manager to Coleman at Fulham, Sociedad and Coventry. Perhaps I am just picking on Steve Kean because he's an easy target but he's a rubbish manager and Coleman's trust in him inspires little confidence. Granted, Chris Coleman has ruled out any radical overhaul to the back-room staff involved with the Welsh side, I wonder if his tactical naivety would be too much for Oisian Roberts and Dutch Ray to put up with.
Gary Speed's legacy needs to continue
Perhaps, the most important reason against the appointment of Chris Coleman, is the fact that Gary Speed's back-room team obviously want to continue in their roles. Whether Raymond Verheijen's tweet was ill-timed is a different story for a different day but the sentiment was clear; he wants to carry on in the role and continue the footballing ethos Speedo was building. The emphasis was on good football and the focus was on youthful exuberance. Ramsey was appointed as Captain; the brightest hope in Welsh football. Raymond Verheijen's ethos is all about the correct preparation and correct training techniques. Wales were building, game by game, towards a qualifying charge where we genuinely had a chance. Wins against Switzerland, Bulgaria and the thumping of Norway were signs we were on our way. Perhaps it's because Raymond and Osian are a little unheralded and Raymond, to his detriment, is a controversial character but it's clear they have the backing of the players. Captain Rambo said "For that reason I would have thought they would have contacted the players to hear what we thought would be the best way forward to continue our recent success on the pitch, in which we have been building for the world cup qualifiers for the last 11 months with a clear view”. It seems that the players seem to want one thing but the FAW are hell bent on ignoring them. If the wrong man comes in, players will not want to play for their country. It happened under Toshack; players dropped like flies under his management. The wrong manager could set us back 5 years.
For once, the FAW need to do the right thing.
This isn't the time for rash decisions. This isn't time for the FAW to pick someone just because he's Welsh and without a job. This isn't the time for the FAW to bow to pressure from experts like Iwan Roberts. Gary Speed started something that needs to be finished. No-one could have predicted Gary Speed's death. It was a horrible end to a man's life. It seems petty to discuss the future of Welsh Football after all this but alas, that's what we must do. Coleman isn't the right man for the job. We need progression and consistency now. If the the wrong man is employed, the balance goes and all the hard work is undone. With the players we have, we can challenge this time around. Bale is the most feared winger in British, and perhaps World, football at the minute. Bellamy is resurgent at Liverpool and Ramsey is a key figure for Arsenal. We have the potential. The management structure is there and the FAW need to trust the existing staff with the job and let them progress. Coleman was a bloody good footballer but his managerial career has been littered with failure. If he was appointed Wales manager, and failed, it would be an absolute disaster.
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