Chris Coleman vows to stick to his guns
7:00pm Thursday 25th October 2012 in Wales football
WALES boss Chris Coleman says he will not question his managerial instincts, no matter how much pressure he is under.
The 42-year-old has endured a tortuous time since replacing old friend Gary Speed in January, losing a couple of early friendlies before starting the World Cup qualifying campaign with two more losses, including a 6-1 hammering by Serbia.
Indeed, there was a large body of opinion that felt if Wales had been beaten twice more this month, Coleman might well have been out of a job.
As it turned out, Wales battled back from a goal down to beat Scotland in Cardiff, and although Coleman's team subsequently lost to Croatia, the speculation about his position has ceased.
Under the circumstances, it would be no surprise if Coleman harboured doubts he was following the right philosophy.
However, speaking at the McDonald's Welsh Community Football Awards, Coleman rejected the theory.
"For every game you play, no matter how you set your team up or what the result, there will be five pundits talking about it afterwards with five different opinions,’’ he said.
"They can't all be right and, as a manager, you don't get the luxury of just being able to talk about it after the event. Your decision has to come beforehand.
"Once you start worrying or questioning yourself because of what someone has said you start to go down blind alleys, which is very dangerous.
"You have to be totally focussed, shut all that negativity out and get on with what you believe in.
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you have to stand by your beliefs.’’ And that meant taking one of the biggest decisions of his entire managerial career.
Knowing Speed had enjoyed such success prior to his untimely death 11 months ago, Coleman opted to keep things as they were when he took over, even though the style did not quite fit with his own managerial philosophy.
In the wake of that abysmal Serbia defeat, Wales' heaviest loss in 16 years, Coleman resolved to make changes.
And, although the full results will not be known for a while, the 42-year-old at least feels more positive about the future.
"I do feel more in control,’’ he said.
"I was discussing managers and putting your philosophy into practice with (former Swansea boss) Paolo Sousa on Sunday.
"At the last camp we were together for 10 days. We won one and we lost one. But I was much more happy with the overall performance of the players, with the input we got, as well as my own.
"I was doing what I believe in and I felt better after that.
"We were in a unique situation, one I hope we will never find ourselves in again.
"The team was doing well under Gary and I didn't want to break it up out of respect to him.
"But there comes a time when it isn't working and you need to go off in a new direction.’’ There has been plenty of talk about improving coaching standards in England recently following the official opening of the new coaching hub at St George's Park.
The Football Association of Wales simply do not have £100million spare to invest in a similar project even if they wanted to.
It makes Coleman more aware of the requirement to maximise resources in a country which, despite their relative lack of success, more children prefer to play football than rugby.
"The rugby boys have been very successful but in our nation of three million, the majority of youngsters are more interested in football,’’ he said.
"It is surprising but it is still difficult for us because, sadly, so many kids are stuck in front of their computers than down at the park doing activities.’’ Coleman does not think comparisons with youth development in Spain and Greece - where he has managed - are fair because of the vast climactic differences.
Instead he feels Germany offer the best example for Wales - and England for that matter - to follow.
"England should look at Germany, and see what they have done in the last eight years,’’ he said.
"The way they play now is completely different.
"They were very physical, methodical and mechanical. Almost robotic. But they changed their whole philosophy. Now they are much more free-flowing.
"You can't copy anyone, but you can certainly pinch one or two ideas.
"England should look at that, and it is better for Wales to look at that model as well.’’
The Welsh Community Football Awards, presented by McDonald's is a grassroots football awards programme that recognises those coaches, volunteers, clubs and leagues, across Wales who dedicate their time to grassroots football in their local community.