I was at a Supporter’s Trust meeting last night and so missed a good bit of the Ireland v Wales match, therefore this will only be a short piece which includes a few general impressions on the game. The match was on in the pub we were in, but I was only able to catch the odd isolated moment of play in the first half – suffice it to say, the play was always heading towards the Welsh goal when I looked up at the telly. I did get to see a bit more of the opening period of the second half and I’m afraid Wales looked an outgunned side for most of that time – there was a sense of inevitability about the Republic’s opening goal which I would say had been coming for a good five minutes before Gibson’s great shot flew in.
Chris Gunter made a good start to his international career, but recent performances have seen him, if anything, going backwards in a Welsh shirt and I’m afraid the decline continued last night as his bad error handed the home side their second goal on a plate. I like Gunter and think he is exactly the type of full back City could do with – I am hopeful that he will soon start showing the form of his first year or two in a Wales shirt again. However, with the likes of Neil Eardley, Danny Collins and Sam Ricketts all playing Premiership football on a pretty regular basis now, Gunter is facing a real battle to hold on to his starting place.
Much the same applies to Joe Ledley in midfield because David Vaughan is doing well at Blackpool, as is Andrew Crofts at Norwich and Andy King at Leicester. With Aaron Ramsey on the way back and, hopefully, a return for Jack Collison not that far away, Wales has more players turning out at the top level of the domestic game (or very close to it) than I can remember for some time (Wayne Hennessey has also established himself firmly as Wolves’ number one now), but, still, the results don’t improve.
It’s much, much too early yet though to start questioning the appointment of Gary Speed (as I have seen one or two doing already after just one game!) – I can understand people’s reservations regarding how Sheffield United did while he was in charge, but, as their results have got even worse since he left that job, maybe Speed didn’t do too badly there after all? No, Wales’ new manager at least deserves the chance to be able to field a team that has not been decimated by seven or eight withdrawals before he is judged – I’m sure there have been one or two occasions in my lifetime when we didn’t have more than half a team dropping out of the originally named squad, so with a bit of luck, Speed will get that chance sometime in the next few years!