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Friday, 10 September 2010

Wales: Who will replace Toshack in the Welsh dugout?

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The Welsh public were full of hope and optimism ahead of their opening Euro 2012 qualifying match with Montenegro. With the likes of Craig Bellamy, Gareth Bale and James Collins in their squad, Wales were expected to breeze past the former Yugoslav republic. Unfortunately it was the same old story for John Toshack’s men as they went down 1-0 and already face an uphill struggle to qualify for the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

It was no surprise to see Toshack go. He’s had six years in charge of the national side and never once looked like taking this talented crop of players anywhere in the international game. Toshack led Wales to 10 competitive wins in 29 outings, losing 16 of them. My only surprise is that the former Liverpool ace believed he could have stayed on!

Now the FAW have the job of finding somebody capable of salvaging the job. Thankfully for them there is no shortage of proud Welshman willing to put their reputation on the line. Unfortunately that list doesn’t include Millwall’s Kenny Jackett or Stoke City’s Tony Pulis.

Here I will assess the credentials of those linked with the coveted job and assess their chances of replacing Toshack.

Brian Flynn

The Under-21 boss is the hot favourite to replace Toshack with the bookies. The former Burnley and Leeds midfielder has done a tremendous job in nurturing some of the country’s most exciting players like Bale and Ramsey and many feel he deserves the chance to prove himself at the highest level. However, Flynn, who had brief spells as manager with both Wrexham and Swansea City, may not be willing to put himself in the firing line, instead opting to continue working with the youngsters. But if there’s one job that can persuade him to leave the Under-21 then surely it’s this one.

Chris Coleman

The former Fulham and Coventry City boss won 32 caps for Wales over a 10-year period and it would be the pinnacle of his career to manage the national side. Coleman has been out of work since losing his job at the Ricoh Arena and would love the opportunity to turn the nation’s fortunes around. He is an experienced figure and won rave reviews for his work at Craven Cottage. Could he be the man to succeed Toshack?

John Hartson

The former Arsenal, West Ham United and Glasgow Celtic striker is lucky to be alive following his fight with cancer and he’d love nothing more than to manage his country. Hartson was a brutal centre forward who came to life in the box and demanded 100 per cent from his colleagues. He may not have sampled life as a manager before but neither did Mark Hughes and he did a decent job in the hot seat. Appointing Hartson would be a risk but he would demand respect and I think the players would respond to him.

Ryan Giggs

The Manchester United stalwart is enjoying his football more than ever at Old Trafford and I don’t even think the lure of managing Wales could tempt him to hang up his boots. Giggs played 64 times for his country before retiring from international football but the critics will claim that he should have won more caps had he not pulled out of numerous friendlies. A novice in management terms, Giggs has played under one of the most successful managers these isles have ever produced and will have picked up some useful tips along the way. Unfortunately I think this job has come too early for him.

Dean Saunders

The current Wrexham boss has had more clubs than Tiger Woods but unlike the US golfer, Saunders kept his scoring strictly to the pitch. Saunders has played for some of the biggest names in European football and has scored wherever he has played. Unfortunately his managerial career has failed to hit the heights of his playing days. He was appointed as Toshack’s assistant in 2007, so he has been in and around the players, but he has been unable to guide the Red Dragons out of the conference and many feel that his appointment would simply be seen as a continuation of the Toshack era.  

Other names in the frame include recently appointed Sheffield United boss Gary Speed, Derby County midfielder and fierce Toshack critic Robbie Savage, former Wales legend Ian Rush and even Martin O’Neill’s name has popped up. However, who would you love to see replace Toshack in the Wales dugout? Whatever your view I’d love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth



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