Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wales 1-5 Slovakia

You just knew that it would all go wrong when Paul Jones walked out with his age shaved into the side of his head. Add a messy dragon of hair, surrounded by patches of bald white scalp, and our goalkeeper looked like a 15 year old skank. But, you imagined, our venerable custodian couldn't lose any more dignity after the ill-advised haircut. You were wrong.

They start to lose it with the long shots. I well remember the incomparable Neville Southall starting to concede from 30 yards, usually against Hagi, and crucially against Romania at the National Stadium in 1993. Paul Jones has gone the same way.
He is the last old stager to be considered by Toshack, and his role was to help out our young and inexperienced defence. When he fails in that task, as he did yesterday, he should be pensioned off to give experience to Brown or Price, in this already doomed campaign.

The general fan reaction to yesterday's record defeat was resignation. It was difficult, becuase there was no-one to blame. The referee was faultless, the selection was reasonable, the tactics were fine, and the attitude wasn't bad. But when a small country like Wales has a dozen professional players unavailable for various reasons, it is unfair to attack the players who are prepared to stand up and be counted.

And make no mistake. Slovakia are no mugs. History will judge this performance. It looks shocking now, as did our big score defeats to Georgia, Romania and Turkey. But those teams went on to prove themselves as difficult international opponents for many sides , and we should also remember that Slovakia did well in the World Cup Finals. It would be no surprise to me if they qualify from this group.

There is only one thing we can do now. Sit tight, and watch our young team improve. I much prefer to watch a young team get hammered, than a team of 35 year olds. We should stick with Toshack and be patient in the knowledge that he will start to develop a team that will flourish in 4-6 years.

Get to the Cyprus game if you can. It is now they need our support. And if you decide against it, I hope I won't read your letters in the Western Mail, complaining because you can't get a ticket for the big game against Italy, England, or Romania, as has been the case in the past. If you don't back the team now, you forfeit your right to share in the good days. And there will be good days.


Rhys Wynne said...

I was well pissed off when 'fans' were turning on the players. The ironic cheers for Paul Jones dispite his errors was shamefull, and so was the booing at the end. What a naff nation we are.

Anonymous said...

Perfectly summarised Eric. Nice change from the crap spouted on Radio Wales when they sent out someone to the City Arms to ask pissed off and pissed fans some very leading questions before running the story as if there was a huge wave of support for Savage.

Took the kids down for the match - they still don't know whether it was a treat for being good or a punishment for not lesitening to their father. Alaw (just 8) actually summed it up as we drove into Cardiff on Saturday lunchtime - "Problam Cymru ydi fod ni ddim yn dda iawn yn sports nadan". Wise beyond her years and quicker on the uptake than her father!

Eric the Red said...

It's a long shot - but does Alaw play for Bethel ? If so, she is some player.

Rhys said...

Couldn't agree more with what's been said. I must admit I didn't watch the game (watched the Colwyn Bay game instead), but we're expecting far too much. This was always going to be a transitional tournament for Wales, and we've got some good young players coming through.

South Africa 2010 anybody?