Chris Coleman last night fired a warning shot to Wales’ Euro 2016 qualification rivals by insisting that there is so much more to come from his young, high-flying national side.
Following an event at Conwy Borough Football Club which saw the Welsh Men’s National Side manager open a new clubhouse, Coleman was happy to speak to me briefly about Wales’ progress.
Following on from Wales’ relatively straightforward fixture against Belgium, the ex-Fulham manager is keen to outline how much the side had learnt and benefitted from the adversity they’d faced in previous fixtures.
“In every game so far we’ve had a bit of adversity and we’ve handled it really well, no matter what the conditions have been whether it be the pitch in Andorra or the amount of injuries against Bosnia and Cyprus. We’ve got over every bump in the road really well and that speaks to the character of these players.
It is fine having the ability in football but you have to have the mentality as well and the last few months have proved that these players have both.” He said.
The Welsh National side is a very young one; the starting XI against Belgium had an average age of just over 25-years-old and with youngsters such as George Williams (19), Jonathan Williams (21) and Harry Wilson (17) coming through, the manager believes the future is bright for Wales.
“They’re so young so we have a lot of years left to work with this squad and that’s great because we’re going to have a lot of players who have experienced a lot of adversity together and know how to deal with it and that can only be good for Welsh Football.” He said.
Adversity and character are two words that pop up frequently in our brief conversation as Coleman argues that one leads to another and can only serve to bring the best out of his side.
“There’s a lot more to come from this side. All of the experience they’re getting now coming through the adversity that they’ve come through is great because it shapes them and their character.”
Although he initially struggled to get things right after taking the Wales job in incredibly unfortunate and difficult circumstances, the former Wales defender believes he has found the secret to success.
“The secret to success here is getting players who don’t regularly play together, some who don’t even play at all, outside of the national side to play like a strong cohesive unit for 90 minutes.
Wayne Hennessey has been absolutely wonderful – Chris Gunter, Robson-Kanu, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen, George Williams, Dave Cotterill and so on – it is definitely a collective effort.” He said.
Sensing that, after going four games undefeated in qualification and losing only one of the last nine at home, momentum is with his side, Coleman is chomping at the bit for Wales to get going again.
“If I had my way we’d have gone to Israel five days after the Belgium game to keep the momentum going but the fixtures are the way they are and we have to wait until March.
We’re taking everything on a game-by-game basis. My target now is obviously to win against Israel then it’ll be to win the next one and the next one to put ourselves in the best position to get to France in 2016.” The ex-Sociedad manager added.
Whilst coming to the conclusion of the interview, news filters through of Wales’ triumph in the Victory Shield Competition – the first time the Welsh have secured an outright win of the competition since 1948/49 – Coleman is elated that Wales’ focus on their youth is paying off.
“The win is a strong indicator that all of the FAW’s hard work down in the lower levels of Welsh Football is paying off – developing the youth is the name of the game.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re coaching them right, treating them right and making sure they develop correctly.”
One thing is for sure – if the youth follow the example that the senior national side is setting right now then future is very, very bright for Welsh football!