Hughes laments Wales woe
Mark Hughes feels Wales must rebuild the public's confidence after their latest qualification blow.
Last Updated: 02/04/09 11:05pm
Former manager Mark Hughes feels Wales must rebuild the public's confidence after their latest qualification blow.
Expectations in the principality have plummeted since they last reached a World Cup in 1958, although Wales went within a whisker of qualifying for Euro 2004 under Hughes as they suffered a narrow play-off defeat by Russia.
His successor, John Toshack, has so far been unable to mount a serious challenge with Wales winning just two of their six games in Group Four, and successive home defeats by Finland and Germany have virtually ended their 2010 World Cup dream.
While they put in a positive performance going down 2-0 to mighty Germany on Wednesday, Saturday's 2-0 loss to Finland was a huge disappointment, and Hughes believes the latest setbacks are depressingly familiar.
"Failing to qualify for major championships is something the Welsh public and teams have got used to, unfortunately," said the Manchester City boss.
"I just think at the moment the public perception of the Welsh team is at a low ebb and needs to be built up again.
"It was more encouraging against Germany," he added. "It was a better display.
"They were always going to be up against it against a very accomplished German side. There was no disgrace in the performance.
"Unfortunately, they let themselves down with the game against Finland, because that was the key fixture in the two games they had.
"They didn't perform in that game, and really, the prospect of qualification was over from that point and it's a disappointment that many, many Welsh players and management teams, as I know to my own cost, have gone through."
Toshack has discarded many of the old guard since Hughes' five-year reign ended in 2004, giving a chance to impress to young players like goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy, defender Chris Gunter and midfield trio Aaron Ramsey, Joe Ledley and Jack Collison.
Their performances have provided a glimmer of hope but Hughes reckons Toshack will have to start delivering results soon if his time in charge is to be deemed a success.
"I think there are some good young players coming through together at the right time and so you hope in the future they can take that final step which Welsh football needs," he said.
"I think John Toshack has been given more time. He has signed a new contract so he's there for a couple more campaigns.
"You will always be judged on whether you qualify as a Wales manager and John knows that.
"At some point he will have to look at what he's achieved and people will look at what he's achieved and he will be judged on that."