Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wales 3-1 Cyprus

Well that’s better. Immense credit should go to John Toshack and the boys for their character, and for having the balls to begin this game with so much verve and pizazz.

This was our youngest ever side and the back six had an average age of just 21. I wouldn’t like to see them with their backs to the wall away to the Germans, but for tonight, they stood up well to the task. But Ireland, how did you concede five goals to this lot?

At the back, Lewis Price stepped in, after Paul Jones was dropped. I now think that Toshack was a bit harsh in giving the armband to Bellamy while Jones was earning his 50th cap. If he’d been made captain, then Paul Jones wouldn’t have shaved his head. I’m sure of that. Lewis Price doesn’t fill me with confidence, but what 12 year old would?

While England were moaning about McLaren’s decision to play 5-3-2, Toshack has stuck to the very same system, even at the expense of playing his best players. There is merit to his argument though, and Mark Hughes took a long time to get his team used to the 4-5-1 game. Tosh should also be given time with his new “systemat”.

The system means that Duffy is preferred to Rob Edwards for his better attacking ability. But the tactic is dependant on Mark Delaney to succeed. And as Aston Villa know, it’s dangerous to bank on Delaney’s fitness.

In the centre, I was mightily impressed by Craig Morgan. I like my centre halves to be a little bit intimidating, and the gruff Morgan fits the bill. He now needs to move from Franchise FC, and join a proper club. Meanwhile, Nyatanga is starting to show his age. But let’s stick with them, and be patient.

In midfield, Koumas stroked the ball around well in front of his family, who were sat amongst the 1200 Cypriots at the game. But he tired severely in the second half, and I have to ask the question how a professional athlete earning vast sums of money can allow themselves to degenerate to that extent, even if they do miss pre-season training. There are thousands of amateur cyclists, triathletes, and even footballers who could run for 90 minutes, even with a day job. Koumas insults us every time we buy a ticket.

Simon Davies relished the chance to show Everton what he can do, and Wales looked a threat every time they went forward. He’s another one who needs a new club and regular football. As for Robinson, well…. He tries his best, and who can ask for more?

Up front, Bellamy and Earnshaw improved as a partnership. One came short while the other went deep. I don’t think Earnie should come short too often though. It’s not his game really is it?

Credit too, to the 20,000 Welsh fans who supported the team when they needed it most, and also to the FAW for their continued cheap ticketing policy.

I managed to catch some of the television coverage, and was again impressed by Sky’s studio analysis. They are a lot less patronising than the BBC England crowd, and if Andy Gray seems disinterested, that’s OK with me. Meanwhile on the Beeb, Gary Lineker uses every opportunity to make in jokes, referring to Bellamy as Shearer’s “mate”. Gary, it’s over. Save it for the Groucho Club.

The post match interviews showed that the squad were hurt by media comments after Saturday’s game. They had a point. The South Wales Echo editorial was disgraceful, calling on Toshack to sort out “his” mess by bringing back Speed and Savage. Their ignorance was all too evident. But let’s not forget that the printed media have an agenda here. Who sells more papers? The Premiership “personalities” Speed and Savage, or the water-carrying Robinson and Fletcher?
All credit to Gary Speed for supporting Toshack’s philosophy in the Sky studio.

I was also disappointed to hear Neville Southall attacking Toshack and his team on the morning of the game. Big Nev was eagerly endorsing Bryan Flynn as Tosh’s replacement. It was unhelpful to say the least. Yes, this is Flynn’s young team to all extent and purposes, and he will surely get his deserved chance with the National side one day, but Big Nev just sounded bitter.

At the Millennium Stadium, there was no big screen action, which is apparently a UEFA dictum. It didn’t stop Northern Ireland having live footage at Windsor Road last night. But I also noticed that they still use terracing in Belfast, which was never allowed at our National Stadium in the nineties.

And finally a nice touch by the tannoy man to play Gwyneth Glyn’s “Adra” as we left the stadium. A lovely heartwarming song, which suited the occasion as we walked out with a nice fuzzy feeling after seeing our young team’s impressive recovery.

1 comment:

Ian Paisley's Tie said...

I originally thought they were using the terracing at Windsor Park but I think it was just supporters standing up and obscuring the seats.

The crowd was no larger than when Wales played there all-seated.