A blog on Wales manager Chris Coleman ahead of the next round of World Cup qualifiers.
The start of the new season is traditionally a time for optimism and belief across the country, but while clubs embark upon another long campaign, international managers across the continent are preparing for a defining couple of months that will decide their fortunes and possibly their futures as the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers resume in just a few weeks time. Wales return to Cardiff City Stadium in September to take on Austria in another difficult test, and while Chris Coleman’s side remain undefeated and in contention in the group, it is now time to turn the draws into wins as the side head into their final four fixtures.
Currently sitting in third place in Group D, Wales are four points adrift of the Republic of Ireland and group leaders Serbia, and Coleman will be desperate for his side to finish a frustrating campaign on a high. But there are potentially far reaching implications to the campaign, as Coleman has maintained that this will be his final swansong with the team. At the start of the campaign, with confidence and belief on a high from a successful tournament in France, not qualifying for the World Cup finals seemed unlikely. However, as qualification has edged further away from Wales’ grasp with a string of frustrating draws, talk of Coleman’s future has fallen silent.
Wales host Austria before travelling to Moldova a few days later in the first week of September. Just one month away, their qualifying fate could be decided in the next four weeks. Further fixtures in October against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland complete the group, but if the final standings have been decided before then, Coleman may have already brought his time with Wales to an end. It is a situation that few people want to see, and there is no doubt that Coleman expected his World Cup campaign to end in Russia next summer, rather than in Moldova next month. Members of the backroom staff and the squad have come out in support of Coleman, publicly expressing their desire for him to remain at the helm, but his silence on the subject suggests his position has not changed.
— Wales (@FAWales) August 1, 2017
Coleman took over the role in difficult circumstances, and after his initial struggles, turned around the fortunes of the country to become Wales’ most successful manager. Now a hugely-popular figure with fans, the redemption achieved during his time in charge has been nothing short of incredible, and he should be commended as much as the Football Association of Wales should be for sticking with him through the difficult times. Coleman believed in his methods and ideology, and was entrusted as the man to turn things around. He succeeded, and gave Wales the greatest month in the history of the national team by reaching the semi-finals of the European Championships last summer.
But for all the glory, his tenure could soon end in disappointment, and it will be a sad reality if things do not go to plan next month. Wales have had to contend with injuries and suspensions to key players throughout the campaign, and while that is part of the game, it does leave a taste of unfinished business behind. This is not how Coleman wants to leave Wales, and this is not how Wales would want Coleman to leave, but qualification may soon be out of Wales’ hands and his decision may have already been made. While qualification remains possible, the players now have to give everything as there is no more margin for error, and while the challenge will be a difficult one, it is far from impossible.
Wales captain Ashley Williams hopes Chris Coleman will change mind on Wales future https://t.co/AFxynoq1W0
— Inside Wales Sport (@InsideWales) August 6, 2017
Of course, should Coleman leave than a successor will need to be found. It seems inevitable that Ryan Giggs will be linked with the position, he always is, but his own circumstances have significantly changed since he was last discussed as a possible candidate. Giggs is no longer part of Manchester United, and despite his status in the game, suitable coaching and management roles are proving difficult for him to come by. An approach from Wales now would present the perfect opportunity for Giggs, but his appointment would be considered unpopular in certain sections given his appearance history with Wales, while his unproven ability to manage will be considered a huge risk. The FAW are unlikely to look outside of Wales for potential candidates, and should Coleman head for the exit door in the coming weeks, it seems that appointment of Giggs would be very likely at the present time.