Saturday, September 4, 2010

Toshack fears over Wales future

Wales boss John Toshack looks on glumly during the Montenegro loss
Wales boss John Toshack looks on glumly during the Montenegro loss

John Toshack warned that Wales' Euro 2012 qualification hopes are already hanging by a thread after Friday's 1-0 loss away to Montenegro in Podgorica.

Montenegro were meant to be the weakest side in a Group G containing England, who beat Bulgaria 4-0, and Switzerland.

"The next game at home if we don't get the win that we need with the Bulgaria match then we're virtually right up against it," said the Wales manager.

Former Wales striker Iwan Roberts has led the calls for Toshack to quit now.

"Our optimism is gone in one game, I don't think there were any positives," Roberts told BBC Radio Wales' The Back Page programme.

"Toshack has taken the squad as far as he can. He's been with them since November 2006 and have we progressed? I'm not too sure.

"I would say his position is untenable if we lose to Bulgaria, we have to get six points from the next two games."

Former Wales midfielder Mickey Thomas was more restrained than Thomas, but also sees the Bulgaria match as a watershed.

"I'm not sure it's right or helpful to call for the manager's head after one game," Thomas told BBC Wales.


"But if Bulgaria doesn't go well then the pressure mounts and maybe his time is up.

"Only two men could change things around quickly - Ryan Giggs and [Wales Under-21 manager] Brian Flynn, that combination could get the Welsh team going."

The criticisms of Toshack come after Montenegro captain Mirko Vucinic underlined a classy performance for his side by scoring the winner at the Gradski Stadium on Friday.

The Roma striker skipped past James Collins on 30 minutes to score, coolly placing the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the Wales goal.

Despite having the likes of Tottenham's Gareth Bale and captain Craig Bellamy operating on the flanks, Toshack says Wales have still not found a cutting edge in front of goal.

"Where it matters in that last third we just lack that little bit of craft that maybe the number nine for them [Vucinic] has got," Toshack said.

"It's a negative, negative way for us to start the tournament and obviously we've got to be disappointed.

"It was a poor goal to give away, I thought our first-half performance in general was disappointing.

"In the middle of the park, despite the fact we had one less, either David Edwards and Joe [Ledley] were out of sorts in the first 45 minutes, we didn't get to grips with things at all there."

Despite being outplayed for much of the first 45 minutes Toshack did see his side improve after half-time, with substitute Simon Church having two good opportunities late in the game to salvage something.

"The second half we improved a bit and effort-wise I couldn't have faulted them," Toshack added.

"We were unlucky, we had four or five good chances second half, Bellers [Craig Bellamy] was in a decent position on a couple of occasions.

"Churchy's [Simon Church] header deserved a little bit more. I'd like to see the goal that was disallowed, that was a tough decision... that would have made so much difference.

"But at the end of the day we haven't scored and once again we've come away on the back of a 1-0 defeat.

"We know this pitch, we know the way they play - if they do get in front it's very, very difficult to break them down.

"They defend in depth, they've put their bodies on the line and then on the counter-attack they've got one or two dangerous players.

"So the obvious answer is not to go 1-0 down in the first place... but to be honest I was happy to get in then at 1-0 and see if we couldn't just put it right the second half.

"We've got to pick ourselves up from this once again and we've really got the last chance at home [against Bulgaria in Cardiff on 8 October].

"The kind of group that it is... we really do need the three points next."

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