By 90Min
October 12, 2017

"I'm genuinely not thinking about it," said Chris Coleman of his future after Wales' defeat against the Republic of Ireland, but he will be. It's impossible not to be.

He had taken Wales to the verge of a first World Cup in 60 years, the expectation in Cardiff was palpable, and then it was over. A 1-0 defeat, a night of frustration and the heartbreak of narrowly missing out.

"It hurts," Coleman admitted. No-one of a Wales persuasion needed convincing of that. "You learn a lot from defeat - you learn about yourself first and foremost. The whole nation will be mourning and disappointed. Again that elusive World Cup has passed us by."

After the brilliance of last summer's European Championship - in which Wales reached the semi-finals - there was almost an assumption that they would build on it by returning to the biggest stage. The group appeared favourable; no powerhouse nations that would swat their opposition aside. Coleman's side, unlike ever before, were almost favourites.

Ultimately, too many draws - as well as the misfortune of losing Gareth Bale to injury - cost Wales a place in the playoffs. And now, when the dust has settled, the attention will turn to the future of Coleman, the man with whom much of the responsibility for Wales' astonishing revival lies.

It was his tactical revolution, his team selections and man-management that brought together a team that had previously lacked belief. It was he that led Wales to the most impressive tournament finish in their history.

Stu Forster/GettyImages

But there is a feeling that his work is done, that he will move on to pastures new on a disappointing note. He may be jaded, he may crave a new challenge, but perhaps it is not yet time for Coleman to part with his country.

Chris Gunter called him the "greatest Welsh manager of all time" and he was probably right. Without him there would be a sense of uncertainty. The calls from a number of Wales players that he stay on were self-explanatory.

The fans feel the same way. There is no ill will at the failure to reach the World Cup, only a collective disappointment and a determination to put it right quickly. 

The chance to do that will come in qualification for the next European Championship, a tournament that seems an age away in the wake of Monday night's result, but will soon be here. And there is no better man than Coleman to lead Wales through it.


Whether he will want to remains to be seen. His contract expires at the end of next month and talks are set to begin in the coming weeks, but all may depend on the job offers he receives from elsewhere.

For Wales, the alternatives do not exactly invoke excitement. Ryan Giggs, inexperienced and unproven, has been made the favourite to replace Coleman. Then there's Tony Pulis, almost the opposite of Giggs but with a reputation and brand of football that may deter supporters. Away from those two, the names look increasingly speculative; even Dean Saunders has been mentioned.

Srdjan Stevanovic/GettyImages

It would be best then for Wales and Coleman to continue as before, to bring through the promising youth players - Ben Woodburn, David Brooks, Ethan Ampadu - with the security of a proven, popular coach. 

And for Coleman to end on such a negative note would feel incomplete, an unfitting end to a tenure that has been so inherently successful. 

"There's a chance I can [stay] and a chance I won't," he has said. "When the dust settles we'll see where we go."

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)