Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Toshack poised to quit Wales job

John Toshack
John Toshack has admitted Wales' qualifying hopes hang by a thread

Wales boss John Toshack is to announce his resignation at a news conference on Thursday after six years in charge.

Toshack met Welsh FA bosses in Cardiff on Monday to tell them of his intention to step down after their opening Euro 2012 qualifying defeat in Montenegro.

The 61-year-old feels he has taken the Welsh national team as far as he can.

The only question seems to be whether Toshack leaves before or after their "must-win" qualifiers against Bulgaria in Cardiff and Switzerland in Basel.

Former Wales captain Barry Horne has called on the Football Association of Wales not to keep Toshack as boss for the October double-header if he, as expected, does announce his decision to step down.

The Welsh FA may consider asking Toshack to continue as manager for the Group G games with Bulgaria and Switzerland to bide them time as their next Euro 2012 qualifier is not until Wales face England in March.

But Horne said: "I wouldn't have called for John Toshack to step down but once he has made the decision to say he is willing to step down, then I don't think it is tenable that he should be in charge now in October.

"If the players have a lack of confidence and a lack of belief they can't go into those crucial games knowing the manager will walk or leave as soon as a replacement is found.

"Once John Toshack has said he is willing to step down then the Welsh FA have to do something that they are not renowned for doing and that is to act quickly and decisively and get a new coach in place in good time for those October games."

Toshack, who has presided over a time of transition in Welsh football, will appear before the media alongside Welsh FA president Phil Pritchard and chief executive Jonathan Ford at Thursday's 1300 BST press call.

There had been optimism this could be the campaign in which the Wales squad came of age but Friday's performance was a hugely disappointing start.

With England hot favourites to win Group G, Toshack admitted another defeat by Bulgaria next month would leave Wales without "too much chance" of making it to Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

He is not thought to be under any pressure to step down from his FAW bosses but was so disappointed with the manner of the 1-0 defeat, he was seen in deep discussions with high-ranking Welsh FA officials in Podgorica.

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The former Real Madrid manager replaced Mark Hughes in November 2004 and has had to deal with a number of high-profile international retirements of experienced players including Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed, Robbie Savage, John Hartson, Mark Delaney and most recently Simon Davies.

Toshack, who has awarded 43 players their first Wales cap, put his faith in youth and fast-tracking talented youngsters such as Gareth Bale, Jack, Collison, Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey and Wayne Hennessey into the senior side.

Toshack guided Wales to 10 competitive wins in 29 qualifiers - losing 16 - since his first game in March 2005 but failed to claim the scalp of a major footballing nation.

The most notable result of his second tenure in charge as Wales manager was a goalless draw in their final Euro 2008 qualifier in Frankfurt in November 2007 against eventual tournament runners-up Germany.

Toshack had a slightly better record in friendlies - winning 10 of his 23 non-competitive internationals - but apart from Brazil in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2008, Wales did not play many forces of international football.

A number of Toshack's old players lead the race to succeed him, as both Giggs and Hartson are among the bookies' favourites.

While former Wales defenders Chris Coleman, Kenny Jackett and Mark Bowen are among other names being mentioned along with under-21s coach Brian Flynn.


Former Fulham manager Coleman, a friend of Toshack's, is out of work after being sacked by Coventry City in May and has declared his interest, as has former Wales striker Hartson, who has never managed but has done the relevant Uefa Pro Licence.

Jackett is hot property after guiding Millwall to League promotion and into the Championship play-off places, while former Wales assistant manager Bowen is Hughes' number two at Premier League Fulham.

Flynn, meanwhile, has earned numerous plaudits for unearthing and developing the Welsh youngsters and he would be available for next month's matches after his under-21s failed to reach the European Championship play-offs.

Giggs is the Welsh FA's number one choice but it is thought unlikely the Manchester United winger would want to take on the role while he is still playing at the highest level.

In an interview earlier this summer, the 36-year-old revealed he had thought about the possibility, citing the example of Hughes, who became manager in 1999 when he was still playing in the Premier League.

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