Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Speedo and Sparky

In the end, it was not to be. Portugal timed their run to the final better than Wales. There were a lot of tired legs and tired minds out there and there really was not a two-goal difference in the quality of the teams. Win or lose tonight, though, Wales performed magnificently in making it through to the semis in Euro 2016. Moreover, though this squad has been described as a golden generation, there are indications that there are young talents ready to take their place.

Much has been made quite rightly of Gary Speed's setting that generation on its way. Although his, and that of his assistants, style of play was different from that of Chris Coleman, if he had lived he would surely have seen his boys succeed equally in Euro 2016. Tribute has also been paid to the bravery of Chris Coleman in picking up the mantle of his long-time friend and to mould his team to a different style without losing their esprit de corps. It will be a debate lasting long into the future whether the greatest Welsh manager was Speed or Coleman.

I would like to put in a word for Mark Hughes' contribution. Although his tenure had a dying fall in lack-lustre performances overshadowed by rumours about his leaving the Wales job for a more lucrative managership in the Premier League, he had in my opinion at the start of his managership changed the Welsh from a collection of individuals to a team with a purpose, something that John Toshack (briefly) and Speed and Coleman were able to build on. Also, one of his last acts as an international manager was the emotional gesture of putting on as substitute for the last two minutes of a match against Germany a man whose club and international career had been broken by a road accident, whose recovery had come too slowly to resurrect those careers in any meaningful way. That man was Chris Coleman. It was surely significant in the building of a team that is together, stronger.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

Nor should one forget the contribution by Brian Flynn.