Chris Coleman was a picture of puzzled dejection at the press conference following the game.
In effect, as he explained, the Welsh team, though strong, was picked with one eye on not offending club managers.
In particular, Malky Mackay didn’t want Craig Bellamy to play more than 30 minutes. That, in effect, meant the team selection was skewed and Bellamy’s benching was the starting point for the rest of the selection.
So on the one hand it was a poor performance. But on the other, Bellamy drove the side forward when he came on and the subsititutions certainly freshened up the Welsh team.
The same thing happened last year against Australia – a 2-0 deficit looked comfortable until Wales rallied, the Aussies panicked and were hanging on at the end for a 2-1 victory.
Let’s hope the same happens this year, as the team is pretty much the same as last year, although it was another sore test of the faith.
But it looks like Boaz Myhill will start against Belgium. The back four of Williams, Blake, Taylor and Gunter seems to be Coleman’s favoured starting line-up – it will be interesting to see if James Collins features against Belgium.
And both full-backs don’t inspire total confidence at the moment. Gunter’s brilliant early form for Wales has not been maintained and Taylor, clearly a good player, often gets done down the left side.
Ricketts could be a surprise starter in Cardiff on September 7 as did well when he came on.
Coleman has also fancied Crofts as a back-four screen. Useful and dogged, Crofts doesn’t really stand out for me. I’d like to see Collison or Vaughan here – at Villa Park in the under-21s v England in 2008 Collison drove Wales forward superbly Frank Lampard-style and for my money almost outshone Aaron Ramsey.
In midfield, it’s hard to see past Allen, Bellamy, Ramsey and Bale starting. And Morrison up front. Sam Vokes did OK but I think he played himself out of the starting line-up.
So, on paper, a poor effort.
What can be said about Parc y Scarlets though? I’ve attended all three full internationals and an under-21 game here and while it’s not a bad stadium, the fans have not got behind it and there is no sense of occasion. Surrounded by the usual out-of-town shopping experience, it’s soulless and uninspiring, like some mid-West US city’s leisure zone – all functional and sensible, but no personality. Yes, it’s DULL!
I imagine the FAW don’t have to pay much for its use – always a bonus as we Welsh don’t like anything that costs too much.
Also, the FAW is right to try to spread the football gospel way out west, especially as there are more games to come down here – for the women, for example.
But it’s been a dead loss atmosphere-wise and given the Gogs deserve a few more games up north, the time has come for Wrexham to be given at least a game a season.
If not, then why not soup up Newport’s Rodney Parade? That would certainly be a better choice of venue from the fans’ point of view.
Looking ahead, I fancy us for a draw against Belgium – we’ve got the players, so, unfortunately have they after they beat Holland 4-2.
And then, if this Wales team is to fulfill anything like its potential I think we are a good bet to win in Serbia – a team who will underestimate us, playing in Novi Sad where the atmosphere should not be too intimidating. They’re in decline. Four points from two games would be close to a perfect start and then the players might start believing.
Cadwch y ffydd_________________