Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Dragons rebuilding project - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Dragons rebuilding project - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Dragons rebuilding project

Wales, team of the future?

Let’s be honest, over the years, Wales have been a bit of a bore to watch when it comes to football.

Whilst the Welsh rugby team are preparing themselves for another World Cup campaign, their footballing counterparts can only dream of getting to that stage. And making the European Championships is still a few dreams away itself.

But things are starting to look up for the Dragons and already the side have come a long way from their 4-1 drubbing at Switzerland under the control of John Toshack back in October last year.

Let’s look at the evidence.

I’ll start from the top with relatively new manager, Gary Speed.

Like the squad that he picks for his country the Wales boss is young, in a managerial sense anyway, and inexperienced on the big stage, having only had a brief stint in charge of Sheffield United.

In the two months that Speed spent at Bramall Lane, he lost half of his 18 games in charge and has so far only won two of his seven games at the helm for the Welsh, although his most recent inflicted defeat on Montenegro for the first time in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

However, every manager has to start somewhere and Speed has certainly been in football long enough to know his stuff.

With 535 appearances in the English top flight, Speed has spent his entire career rubbing shoulders with some of the best managers and players in the business and will be keen to make a name for himself as a manager, just like he did as a player.

Having also gained 76 caps for his country, the new man in charge is familiar with the atmosphere and attitude of the nation towards the game. Being the most capped outfield player for Wales, Speed, whilst being a calm character, no doubt has the passion to do his nation proud and the hunger to prove himself as a manager.

Under Speed, Wales are becoming a more watchable team, playing attractive football that is easy on the eye. The new passing style that the former Leeds and Newcastle player has introduced was clear in their defeat to England, particularly in the second half which really got England hot under the collar and arguably deserved a point from the game.

This new style of play is anchored by the appointment of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey as Wales’ youngest ever captain.

Naming Ramsey as captain speaks volumes for the transformation of Wales. Not only is it a youthful selection, showing the long-term plans of Speed, but with the 20 year old plying his trade at the Emirates, Ramsey’s career is submerged in this type of total football that many are so fond of.

In short, Ramsey’s the man to really teach this captivating brand of football to the new breed.

Ramsey’s not the only hot prospect from Wales.

Gareth Bale, a man two years his captain’s senior, is a player who needs no introduction. The reigning PFA Player of the Year was untouchable last season. His raw pace, skill and desire were key in him ripping up the Milan clubs home and away in the Champions League as well as putting in some outstanding performances in the Premier League.

Bale is being played out on the right wing by Speed, something unfamiliar for the man who is a permanent fixture on the left side of Harry Redknapp’s Spurs Midfield. But this has encouraged the young man to get the best out of both feet, and cut back in on his stronger foot to play his teammates through on goal.

The Dragons have other promising youngsters in the form of Joe Ledley, Sam Vokes, Chris Gunter, Jack Collison and keeper Wayne Hennessey. But they also have some experience in their locker to nurture this crop of youngsters.

Alongside David Vaughan, Rob Earnshaw and James Collins, Craig Bellamy is the kind of figure that can help build this new Welsh revolution.

Whilst the Liverpool man’s actions off the field are questionable at best, there are no question marks over Bellamy’s passion, experience and ability on the field. Bellamy is the sort of character that can grab a kid like Ramsey or Bale by the scruff of the neck (maybe almost too literally at times) and pick them up when things aren’t going their way and they’re having a bit of a doomer.

Just the thought of Bale latching on to a pinpoint Ramsey pass before crossing into Craig Bellamy is enough to make any Welshman’s mouth water.  

And on a smaller note, the move from the colossus Millennium Stadium to the smaller but local Cardiff City Stadium may also be a sign of this rebuilding venture that the Dragons are undergoing.

Regardless of the arena played in, Gary Speed’s side are certainly a work in progress. And ignoring the result from Wembley, the performance suggests that there is an exciting future ahead for the Wales national side.

Just don’t give present Earnshaw with an open goal.

Matt Cotton @FindingCotton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *