Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCan Wales actually play football? It’s beginning to look likely - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Can Wales actually play football? It’s beginning to look likely - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Can Wales actually play football? It’s beginning to look likely

Unlike you England fans out there, who will only have your delusions stoked by the fact your national team defeated the world champions (however impressive it was), we humble Welsh folk are only just starting to believe that people of our nation can kick a ball that does not resemble an egg.

Growing up during the times of Bobby Gould, Mark Hughes and John Toshack (who for a Welsh footballing hero, nobody actually seems to like) was not in the slightest bit enjoyable. In fact, being a Welsh fan was only ever enjoyable in 1958 when we reached the World Cup Quarters.

We meandered along, laying waste to Germany and Italy before being mauled by the sheer strength-in-depth of teams like Cyprus and Poland. Even when we won, it was about as inspiring as a wet fart. Welsh football was in a never ending state of flux.

Individuals can only ever carry a team so far and this task repeatedly became to much. For every Ryan Giggs there was an Andy Melville and for every Craig Bellamy there was a Carl Fletcher (I don’t know who he was either).

Throughout Toshack’s era we were told time and again that the regime was building for the future, nursing the talents of promising youngsters. There was little evidence of it and few took the statement to heart.

From our side of the boarder, it always looked like England fans expected too much of their team because those players where all 99% of them knew, they were the only players most fans ever watched and none of those fans were aware the forces that were being built in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

But we always knew poor. We never expected anything and when the rugby team won the Six Nations in 2005 everyone turned there backs on football. The state of flux had dissipated and Welsh football was dead on its arse.

Nobody was surprised, or upset, to see Toshack leave, but just about everyone was surprised, and sceptical, over the appointment of Gary Speed. A proven leader on the pitch who had no previous coaching experience and for many this in itself was an act of defeat.

An expected defeat to England was dealt to Speed in his first game in charge and so loomed Wales’ lowest ever world ranking position: 117th.

Who would have thought that seven months and eight matches later, Wales would be sitting at there highest ever ranking position: 45th, and on a run of three straight wins (five wins in their last seven).

Two of those three wins game against teams ranked significantly higher and many would not have begrudged Wales a point at Wembley in September. Things seemed to be improving, much to the surprise of an entire nation. Wales began to look like a team who could play football and get results.

It now seems Toshack was talking truth with his repetitive, brain washing ‘building for the future’ comments. Wales really have brought on a crop of talented youngsters, who are still lead from the front by the experienced head of Bellamy (when he decides the match is big enough for him). The midfield holds two undeniable class acts in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and, as Swansea City fans will confirm, a class act in the making in Joe Allen.

There are all still some questions over members of Wales’ defence, but the damage has been done. Ashley Williams has proven himself at Swansea and their ascension to the top flight will only develop him further. The same cannot be said for Chris Gunter, Adam Matthews and Darcy Blake who all, while playing in decent teams, are playing outside of the Premiership. That said, Welsh fans are starting to believe.

Even worse, Welsh fans are starting to expect. Having seen what that pressure has done to England (and yes, I realise England are concerned with winning tournaments while Wales are only concerned with qualifying for them) I can only hope that it does not have the same implosive affects for a young team who fianlly look like putting the agony of past qualifying campaigns behind them.

Rhys Morgan

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