By Jamie Kemble
Tony Pulis is the rock and Ryan Giggs is the hard place in this uneasy situation for the Welsh FA and its loyal fanbase.
So, maybe Osian Roberts, the other man thought to be on a three strong shortlist this week is the happy medium. The green shoot of recovery forcing its way between the two, if you want to strain the metaphor to breaking point.
It’s been more than a month since Coleman was announced as Sunderland boss and we’re still no closer to discovering who will take Wales into the next qualifying campaign and the new Nations League.
After Gary Speed and Chris Coleman, Ryan Giggs seems to fit the pattern all too well. A young manager who has represented Wales in the last 10 years or so.
Except, Ryan Giggs isn’t quite as popular with the Welsh supporters as the two most recent to take the helm. Chris Coleman wasn’t exactly a popular appointment either, but he certainly wasn’t as controversial as Ryan Giggs might be.
If Giggs gets the Wales job, will he turn up for friendlies?
— Gareth Dyer (@pikedyer) 14 December 2017
Giggs, as wonderful a player as he was, grew something of a reputation for not turning up to Wales games and not putting as much into it as some expected when compared to his Manchester United form. That said, 64 caps spanning 16 years with 12 goals puts him in the top 20 most capped players for Wales, above the likes of fan favourites Barry Horn, John Hartson and Mickey Thomas.
But amongst the hardcore fanbase, the former Manchester United midfielder isn’t a popular choice, and it’s those fans who are most likely to be standing in arctic conditions singing the manager’s name on a cold Serbian night.
And besides, Giggs hardly qualifies for the job. Coleman and Speed got their hands dirty in club football, whereas Giggs is yet to manage a club, aside from the temporary role he was given by Manchester United.
He also has a suspect reputation off the pitch. He’s a controversial figure in his personal life. Not something we need to go into here but it’s important to consider.
Ryan Giggs is a man who would not only be representing Wales on the training ground or the touchline, but he would be going into communities, he would be representing Wales in schools, in clubs where people must respect him and look up to him.
Chris Coleman represented Wales better than anyone could have imagined. He was a role model to communities and the work he did off the pitch. Does Giggs fit that brief?
Onto candidate number two and one of the Premier League’s veteran bosses. Tony Pulis is reportedly interested and being considered with friends in high places at the FAW, if not by others.
I’ll cry if Pulis takes the Wales job.
— Annette Smith (@moosecatear) 29 November 2017
He may not fit the long-term strategy but he’s Welsh so he fits the criteria, i.e not being English, and he has more than 25 years of managerial experience. At 59 years of age, he may even be the perfect age of international management.
However, fans aren’t convinced that Tony Pulis is the right man and you can’t expect them to be, he’s the polar opposite of Chris Coleman.
Pulis has a reputation for boring football with plenty of long balls and that’s not what Wales fans want to see.
Though, I’m sure Tony Pulis wold argue that he’s never been in charge of a team where he could do an awful lot more than play in whatever way it takes to win. He’s been the go-to man to avoid relegation each year and little more has been expected of him during his career, nor has he delivered too much more, in the Premier League, at least.
Would Pulis do a good job with Wales? Problably. But he’s certainly not a popular option and the FAW may not be in the business of upsetting the fans who have helped them achieve so much in the last couple of years.
Everyone hates giggs for his lack of commitment to his country apparently. Pulis would take Wales back to the stone age
— Jamie Evans (@Evans707) 14 December 2017
That said, Martin O’Neill’s Ireland were successful up to a point doing what it took to get results. It took them to the play-offs and, while their exit at the hands of Denmark proves a powerful counter point about its effectiveness, you won’t find many in Ireland too fussy about how O’Neill goes about his job.
Coleman’s approach wasn’t exactly Guardiola-like either at times. We’ve seen many a long ball hoofed up-field from Ashley Williams, but there seemed to be a method behind things.
Elsewhere on the list we have the likes of Thierry Henry and Craig Bellamy, another two without managerial experience.
But Carl Robinson, another former Welsh international is an interesting option and one who is often put forward by Welsh fans.
How is being Wales manager too big a job for Carl Robinson (160+ games as a manager in MLS) “at this stage” when some think Ryan Giggs (3 games as a EPL mngr) should get the job? https://t.co/I8Imp9vusR
— Twm Owen (@NewsatTwm) 17 December 2017
That said there are plenty more who feel this is way above his level.
Job FAR too big for him Paul, certainly at this stage.
— Paul Abbandonato (@PaulAbbandonato) 16 December 2017
Robinson has been in charge of Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS since 2013 and while it’s across the pond and away from our gaze, at least he’s gone out to get his hands dirty in management and he’s succeeded. Lasting four years in any job in football is enough to tell us he’s not doing a bad job.
His lack of status may cost him if he does go for the job, but he’s certainly in the running as far as supporters are concerned. And more than just one or two players if reports are to be believed.
And don’t forget Osian Roberts, Coleman’s right-hand man whose popular name amongst Welsh fans name remains in the hat. He knows the players and they know and respect him. He is painfully intelligent on all football-related matters. Seriously, ten minutes of convo with him and you understand just how little you really know about the game! And there aren’t many who would be strongly against his appointment.
So, we’re still no closer to deciding the next Wales boss and most fans remain as undecisive as myself as we go down the list and list the negatives for each option.
However, you should remember that there were plenty of negatives surrounding Chris Coleman when he was given the job and he’s the very reason we’re allowed to be so picky in this selection process.
I don’t envy the job the FAW have on their hands, it’s an impossible job to please everyone after the job Coleman did, but the man who does come in has no excuses. We’ve seen what this group can achieve and for this generation, at least, there’s no room for the catastrophic failure we’ve grown used to in the past.
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