19 November ~ With three games gone the Euro 2012 campaign is already over for Wales. Caretaker-manager Brian Flynn had to deal with the same problems faced by his predecessor John Toshack of missing players, injuries and retirements. Wales have now slipped to 104th in the FIFA rankings, behind Sudan and Uzbekistan. It’s fair to say that things can’t really get much worse with player commitment and public interest at its lowest ebb for years. This contrasts sharply with the situation at Wales’s two biggest club sides, Cardiff and Swansea, who both get bigger gates than the national team and have realistic chances of playing Premier League football next season.
The Welsh media argue that promotion of either would be “good for Welsh football”. But would it really benefit the national side? While Craig Bellamy's arrival on loan was clearly a coup for Cardiff it didn’t help Wales much; Bellamy missed the qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland despite playing a full game for Cardiff at Barnsley the previous Saturday. When questioned, Cardiff manager Dave Jones has made it clear the player's loyalties lie with his club not the national side. Brian Flynn’s acceptance of this, together with the back-to-back defeats, has done nothing for his case to take over as manager on a permanent basis and it is likely that the FA of Wales will decide he should continue his successful work with the Under-17s, Under-19s and Under-21s.
Flynn however is still keen and, along with former internationals John Hartson and Chris Coleman, has formally applied for the post. What’s clear is that Wales need to appoint a manager capable of motivating both the players and fans if the team is to begin to regain respectability, starting with the home match against England next March. The public and the media are clear that the best candidate to raise the team from its current depths would be Ryan Giggs. Even if he were to be appointed, the short-term boost this would bring will need to be backed up by positive results and a change of attitude from the players. The likelihood is that Wales will have to find someone else to get the best out of talents such as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Bellamy. Paul Ashley-Jones