Monday, September 6, 2010

Hartson interested in Wales job

John Hartson
John Hartson played club football for Arsenal, West Ham United and Celtic

Former Wales striker John Hartson says he would be interested in taking over as Wales manager should John Toshack quit the post.

Hartson scored 14 goals for Wales in 51 appearances between 1995 and 2005 but the 35-year-old, who recently battled cancer, has no managerial experience.

"I don't know how seriously the FAW [Football Association of Wales] would consider me," Hartson told BBC 5 Live.

"But if they were to offer me the job it is something I'd... take seriously."

"I've got all my [coaching] badges, I've worked with the best, I feel as if I've learnt a lot about the game and still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

"But it's the national job, it's the Welsh job that will appeal to lots of people as well as myself."

BBC Sport understands Toshack is ready to step down after six years in charge following Wales 1-0 opening Euro 2012 qualifying defeat to Montenegro on Friday.

The Football Association of Wales are expected to hold a news conference on Thursday to clarify the 61-year-old's future, although it is thought he is not under any pressure to step down.

Toshack, whose second period in charge of Wales began when he succeeded Mark Hughes in November 2004, has won 21 and lost 24 of his 53 games since then.

But Hartson, who played for the likes of Celtic, West Ham and Arsenal during his career, questioned the timing of Toshack's possible departure, saying he should have gone at the end of the failed 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

"John's words were: 'Judge me on the 2010 qualifying campaign'," added Hartson. "They finished a dismal fourth behind Finland, Germany and Russia.

"They only beat Liechtenstein and Azerbaijan who were the whipping boys of the group and John's words himself was to judge him.

"The 2010 campaign wasn't good enough and they [the FAW] should have got rid of him then and there and appointed a new manager with new ideas, fresh impetus, a new voice."

Hartson argues that he could do the job and points to Toshack's predecessor, Mark Hughes, as an example of someone without managerial experience who has enjoyed success.

"The FAW have now got a decision to make," he told BBC Sport.


"Welsh football is a laughing stock which no proper Welshman likes to see and at the end of the day, we've got two games coming up next month - Bulgaria home, Switzerland away - and who is to say where the next points are coming from."

Hartson accepts Toshack has had to rebuild the squad and blood fresh talent following several high-profile retirements, and said his criticism is not personal.

"I love John Toshack, he's my hero," said Swansea-born Hartson.

"I'm not getting on his back. I'm only saying what he said and how the team have performed.

"The stats will tell you that, results will tell you that and a change should have been made. It hasn't been made.

"He's a fantastic man, he came to see me when I was in hospital, sat with me and my dad at my bedside - a great, great bloke."

Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has already been touted for the job along with former Coventry boss Chris Coleman.

But Wales' record caps holder, goalkeeper Neville Southall, believes lesser-known names could also be explored.

Timing of Toshack exit 'brave'

"At this time, no-one knows whether Tosh is going to go or not, but for Ryan he might be all right if he's got someone really experienced alongside him to know the pitfalls," 92-cap Southall told BBC Sport.

"The one I would probably look closest at is Kenny Jackett at the moment. Kenny has done a fantastic job at Millwall.

"He's done brilliant by bringing in younger players, he's got them promoted with that and he's got international experience. Because he's not a name like the others, he tends to get overlooked.

"The other one is down the road at Cardiff City in Dave Jones. There's a lot of mileage in Dave Jones and I think he'd do a great job for Wales.

"And no-one's given [Stoke manager] Tony Pulis a mention. You don't know the temptation of international management. It could be something that he feels could be a good time to get."

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