Wales boss Rob Page plays down rift with Welsh FA and insists everyone is ‘on the same page’ as they seek to book place at Euro 2024
- Welsh chief Noel Mooney cast doubt on Robe Page’s position last month
- Players were furious and beat Croatia 2-1 to take control of their own destiny
- Southgate’s loyalty to his players is an issue and a weakness – It’s All Kicking Off
From the brink of the sack to the edge of history in the space of a few weeks. One of Rob Page’s strengths is his level-headed manner but even he must be surprised at how his status as Wales manager has changed so dramatically in such a short time.
Victory in Armenia on Saturday and against Turkey in Cardiff three days later will ensure Wales qualify for their third successive major tournament – an unprecedented achievement and proof of how one result can alter the course of a manager’s future.
Ever since Wales’ disappointing World Cup campaign a year ago, Page’s future has been in doubt, with the Welsh FA assessing possible replacements.
He looked more vulnerable than ever when chief executive Noel Mooney gave an extraordinary interview before the friendly against Gibraltar in Wrexham on October 11, in which he intimated Page’s position was under review.
Mooney could not have known it, but his comments were an unexpected masterstroke. The players were furious and rallied around Page, who remains hugely popular within the squad.
Wales boss Rob Page has gone from brink of the sack to the edge of history in a few weeks
Your browser does not support iframes.
His team promptly beat Croatia 2-1 to take control of their own destiny. Suddenly Page – emotional after the game – was looking as secure as he had for some time and Mooney was facing the awkward questions, with Ben Davies and Harry Wilson criticising his remarks publicly.
Yet if Wales blunder once more against Armenia or Turkey and are beaten to second place by Croatia, the tables could turn again on Page, even though he would almost certainly take charge of any play-off matches and remains under contract until 2026.
Page and Mooney held talks earlier this month which the chief executive described as ‘positive and productive’.
Page said: ‘There were things said that needed to be said and we all want the same outcome. We all want to be successful for Wales and win games of football and qualify for major tournaments.
‘There’s a process that goes along with that, in terms of introducing these young players, and everybody understands that. We know what’s needed for the future.’
Page accepted that Mooney’s remarks had been ‘unnecessary’ but added: ‘We’re in a great place and full focus is now all on the football so I don’t want to waste any more time speaking about it, we’ve dealt with it.
‘We’re all on the same page. We all know what we’ve got to do. It’d be disrespectful from me now if I continue to keep talking about it to the players. Let’s just focus on the players and let them get on with their job of winning games.’
Wales had been in a slump since the retirement of Gareth Bale after the World Cup but the win over Croatia revived a nation. Midfielder Jordan James went toe to toe with Luka Modric and came out on top and, at 19, looks set to be a key figure for his country for at least a decade.
James played alongside Jude Bellingham at youth level for Birmingham and though it is unfair to compare any British prospect with the Real Madrid superstar, James has an exciting future.
Players rallied around Page and promptly beat Croatia 2-1 to take control of their own destiny
Harry Wilson opened the scoring as Wales secured a crucial win against the Croats
Though Aaron Ramsey is still out injured, Tottenham forward Brennan Johnson returns after scoring his first goal for his new club in their 2-1 defeat at Wolves.
In Ramsey’s absence, Davies retains the armband. The Spurs defender is an unassuming character but certainly finds his voice on international duty.
He gave an impromptu speech on the pitch immediately after the Croatia win and urged his team-mates to find similar spirit in Yerevan on Saturday.
‘We never stopped believing,’ he said. ‘The mindset we’ve got is we can get a result against anyone. We’ve shown that. The speech was just a case of showing the reason why we’re here.
‘It was backs against the walls stuff, it was showing that people doubted us again but we’re still standing. We’re standing up against the challenges and here we are with two games to go, still in the fight.’
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.
Your browser does not support iframes.
Source: Read Full Article