Trust in Cookie – Wales 1 Macedonia 0

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Is it crisis over now? And finally there’s been an outbreak of trust and hugs and kisses all round? Did the FA say to Chris Coleman in the communal showers after: “We were always going to keep you, Cookie – this was a test.”

I hope so. And I think it’s the least he deserves. We can all move on then. To new Welsh football fiascos and debacles. Or maybe with the world’s most expensive footballer in our ranks and Britain’s best player (Ramsey) we can finally achieve something concrete.

James Collins

What a strange campaign it’s been when the centre-half who started off the woes – with a rash challenge against Belgium – returns from a stand-off to play so well he conceivably kept the man he fell out with in a job.

I don’t think we would have won without his presence at centre-half. Chris Gunter did well but he didn’t look totally assured. Collins looked crazily motivated, gigantic.

Cookie Monster prowls the touchline
Cookie Monster prowls the touchline

Like he was going to stomp off the pitch at the end and bark “Don’t you ****ing drop me again, gaffer” at the manager at the end of the game and talk to his missus on the phone while the boss did his post-match evaluation.

I think he just pipped David Vaughan for man of the match and I hope he stays long enough for one more qualifying campaign.

Simon Church

Been telling people for years that he should be our lone front man and people go: “Yeah, who does he play for again? Reading? Why’s he on the bench? He’s only scored one goal in 20 games.”

He doesn’t provide aerial muscle, that’s not his forte, though he had a couple of good headers. But for his all-round intelligence, he’s our man.

I first saw him in the under-21s match in Sarajevo in 2008 when Wales were 1-0 down and he came on as sub with about 20 minutes to go. The game changed in five minutes with his touches and wit.

Wales defend a free-kick
Wales defend a free-kick

Watch him and he always seems to be in the right place. Why? Because he’s a step ahead of where the next phase of the game will take place and positions himself accordingly. He transformed that match and we won 2-1. Bosnia were robbed.

Ever since I’ve thought he would mature into our main striker. Because he always makes the testing run and he links brilliantly with Aaron Ramsey. This was evident in the two under-21 play-off games against England later that year. Last night his efforts were either close or forced a save.

He has a finishing coolness that Craig Bellamy has never possessed and I hope he gets a six-year spell leading the line.

Wayne Hennessey

Brave call, putting Wayne back in the team after Boaz Myhill has performed at a higher level for a while now and had some very good games for us this year. A clanger from Wayne could have cost Coleman his job. Then again, I can’t recall Wayne making any costly mistakes.

We had to look twice at Wayne. He’s evolved into a Mark 2 version of himself.

He looked sinister in black. Topped with dark hair rather than the fairy-lights mop which made him look like a disco kid. No smiles. I thought it was quite effective. No longer a well-developed youngster, he’s now a man.

He radiated a sense of serious endeavour, which is no doubt the story of his last two years.

From 50 yards away, with his lanky frame he reminded me of Edwin van der Sar and that’s no bad thing. His return is good news for Wales and not so good for Boaz.

Verdict

We played better in Skopje than we did last night but over there we lost and in Cardiff we just shaded them but it was a close-run thing. Macedonia played bog football at home, spitefully kicking all and sundry in a poorly refereed game that was as throwback to, er, some of our less wonderful moments in the 90s.

Here they showed they could play well and probably should have scored which makes the defensive effort even more commendable.

Ramsey’s penalty miss gave us the heebie-jeebies for the last ten minutes and I imagine Coleman turned as grey as his suit.

The atmosphere in the Canton Stand was about as good as could be hoped for with such a small crowd.

It was an enjoyable attractive match given the only thing at stake was whether Coleman would lose his job at the end of it.

Bellamy: cheers for the memories butty
Bellamy: cheers for the memories butty

Coleman

Coleman has been sorely tested by the last 15 months and, for my money, has shown a great deal of humility while visibly looking bewildered by the circumstances.

For those who wanted him out after the 6-1 defeat in Novi Sad, only his second competitive game in charge, I say that’s proof of your idiocy.

Since the start of the year Wales have played seven games and have only been outplayed in one – Serbia last month. To have lost two of those games – Croatia in Swansea and last month in Macedonia – suggests he is unlucky.

But if your side is playing well, should you sack the boss?

The lack of control Coleman clearly feels must be frustrating. He hasn’t felt trusted and the FAW have surely fuelled his neuroses with their “I’ll think about going out with you” approach.

Coleman’s been the bloke who’s been given conflicting signals by the object of his affections that he’s been chasing for years and, after being eaten alive inside by doubts, it looks like he’s finally got the come-on he wants.

I’m hoping Coleman and the FAW are about to get married.

Just don’t forget to take your passport on the honeymoon, Cookie.

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