Toshack faces struggle to lead Wales

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John Toshack’s appointment as the new Welsh manager is causing controversy as his training credentials are called into question…

He has been criticised for not being active in British football for about 20 years and his 47 day stint as Welsh manager 10 years ago – in which he left after one game – has been dragged up.

“If some people are unhappy there’s not a lot I can do” was Toshack’s response to reports that his return as Welsh manager is not entirely welcomed. "I’m sure they’ll get their chance to give constructive opinion over the next five years.”

Much of this stems from his criticism of the previous manager Mark Hughes, during his time as a football pundit. This has, it seems created bad feeling between him and Hughes, who is now managing Blackburn.

"I was giving my professional opinion based on 26 years in management, my credentials are at stake when I speak," he said.

Wales’ progression under Hughes was extraordinary. Their comprehensive 2-1 win against Italy in October 2002 is testimony to that.

However, they have not won their last 10 games. Only earning two points in their World Cup campaign, thus far. Their chances of qualifying for 2006 are at best doubtful.

Wales and Hughes have been criticised for throwing away their golden opportunity of qualifying for Euro 2004, in their last two matches against Russia. This would have been the National squad’s first entry into international competition, since Wales reached the 1958 World Cup quarter finals in Sweden.

"You would have to ask other people what the previous manager did right," Toshack stated at his first press conference as Welsh Boss, held at the Welsh Football Association.

"…Until I actually get in here and see how things are I’m not really in a position to tell you,” he said, referring to the current state of the Welsh team. "If you look at the situation at the moment I don’t think it is the healthiest. That’s usually the case when people move out of jobs.”

He certainly looks set to shake up the team. This means the alleged comfort zone, created under Hughes, for many players, could soon disappear. Making it that much more competitive to be part of the squad. This probably will include a shake up in the ranks of the longer serving players, as the average age of the Welsh National Squad is around 30.

Discontent amongst the Welsh ranks has already been in evidence,

"Some pundits haven’t helped themselves by media comments about Hughes and Wales," said Robbie Savage the Birmingham mid-fielder in reference to Toshack in the Daily Post newspaper.

"If they get the job they will soon find the boot is on the other foot."

Toshack, aware of the backlash amongst the players, has promised everyone a clean slate on arrival for national duty.

Toshack’s task is not an easy one. Even-though he has impressive credentials, such as winning La Liga with Real Madrid, the doom-mongers paint a harsh future for Wales under his management. Now it’s his turn to silence the critics and give Wales hope.