Same old Tosh

March 25 2007

Giggs against IrelandAnother much-hyped Euro 2008 qualifier, another dismal defeat for Wales. In mitigation, it was a fairly close game – and in the second half Wales actually managed to play some decent football – but once again there was no pace or penetration to our play, and we looked worryingly feeble at the back.

And why, when our defenders are the most inexperienced members of our squad, does John Toshack go out of his way to field five of them? The 5-3-2 has to be abandoned against San Marino on Wednesday. Defensively we have been weak for a long time, and it’s time to start playing to the few strengths we have, namely pace and enterprise on the flanks and the ability to pass the ball in midfield.

Our lack of presence up front was typified by the fact our nominal centre forwards – Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy – were wearing numbers usually worn by wingers (11 and 7). Neither Giggs nor Bellamy want to be a centre forward, and in the absence of a target man, why were we once again reduced to lumping aimless balls into the box?

Thankfully Jason Koumas will be back in the team for San Marino. We certainly missed his composure on the ball and eye for a pass at Croke Park.

Watching us limp apologetically towards another dispiriting defeat, I began to think about how great our team could be if we weren’t beset by injuries and Toshack hadn’t hounded some of our best players into retirement.

Imagine a 4-2-3-1 with Gabbidon and Delany restored to the defence, Robbie Savage and Gary Speed anchoring the midfield, and Giggs, Koumas and Davies supplying the ammunition for Bellamy up front. And John Oster on the bench. Why, when there is such a dearth of quality in the squad, does he continue to be overlooked?

So more questions for John Toshack to answer. Most Welsh fans accept that we are still going through a transition period. But he’s been in charge for nearly two and a half years now, and if results and performances don’t start improving, the fans’ patience will begin to run out.

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