MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Does Coleman even want to fight to stay on?
12:02pm Tuesday 15th October 2013 in Sport
WELL that’s cleared that up then hasn’t it? Surely it’s a case of Wales won, so Coleman stays?
This was, after all, a must win game, we all said so and after the 1-0 triumph over Macedonia, Coleman said so too.
Why then, all this unease as to his future?
Sorry for all the questions, but where Coleman is concerned, we’ve had more questions than answers for his entire tenure as manager, and that includes his post-match media debriefs.
After the Scotland games he was passionate and happy and spoke of his players in glowing terms, after the away day in Macedonia he was angry and defiant.
Last month after losing at home to Serbia, Coleman was contrite and rueful, but far from the snarling and embittered antagonist he’d been in Macedonia after the lost passport episode.
On Friday, in the aftermath of a vital victory, Coleman not only didn’t attempt to sell himself as the man to lead Wales into another campaign, but he didn’t even sound convincing as a man who’d like that opportunity.
Make no mistake, the impression Coleman gave on Friday was that he feels his time as national coach is coming to an end and the actions of another man in the Wales camp have been equally intriguing?
Is it really possible that Craig Bellamy will succeed Coleman? Is the bad boy of Welsh and British football for the past decade really going to be given such a responsibility?
Perhaps it’s not as absurd as it sounds.
First and foremost, Bellamy is a totally different character to the one who has made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past.
Now more likely to swing a golf club at a golf ball than a teammate, he’s a matured character and is seemingly contemplating the next step in his career.
Could he do a Mark Hughes with Wales? I think it’s certainly possible.
What is perhaps most interesting in regard to Coleman’s future is what it will mean for his backroom staff.
There is without question an issue with the age grade sides. The Wales U21s especially have gone backwards on previous campaigns with some horrific results – losing to San Marino, hammered 5-0 by Finland – and we are seeing a slew of players denouncing their status as U21 players.
Only yesterday was it confirmed that Liverpool’s Lloyd Jones has asked not to be considered for the team anymore and I can’t think of a more worrying sign for the future.
If this was in isolation it’d be different, but Jones isn’t the first player to ask not to be considered.
Tom Bradshaw of Shrewsbury opted not to play for Wales last weekend and now manager Geraint Williams says he won’t pick him again.
It’s all very John Toshack, because we all know Wales will always need every available player, at every level.
Welsh football is in rude health by comparison to the success of the national sides.
Interest in the beautiful game has never been higher, with Cardiff and Swansea both selling out weekly in the Premier League.
The FAW switch to Newport has been timed brilliantly to coincide with the Exiles’ return to the Football League and across the board football outstrips rugby in terms of participation.
This is a nation that loves to play football and loves to watch football, just not when the national team is concerned. The crowd was so bad on Friday they didn’t even announce it. The disenfranchised Welsh supporters have seemingly never cared less.
That’s the sort of thing to concern the FAW hierarchy and it’s an issue bigger than tonight’s result against Belgium.
It would be absurd to judge Coleman on the back of such a tough fixture with Wales so depleted, so in a way it’s a bit of a can’t lose occasion with expectations extremely low against Romelu Lukaku and Co.
Coleman should and will be judged on the bigger picture and will need to convince the FAW he has the desire and vision to change the landscape for the national teams, at all levels.
But first he might need to convince himself it’s a job worth fighting for. Otherwise the ultimate Welsh battler, Bellamy, might just be the man with a plan for Euro 2016 qualifying.
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