I hate to say “I told you so.” But…I told you so (see my September blog ‘A load of Tosh’). Wales duly lost both Euro 2012 qualifiers this month, against Bulgaria and Switzerland, and are now bottom of the group with zero points from three games, effectively eliminated after their worst start to a tournament for 40 years. In any other country there would be a major inquest and a deep analysis of what is going so very wrong. If England, for instance, “only” reach the World Cup quarter-finals it is treated as a national catastrophe and there are weeks of soul-searching flagellations. But here in Wales defeat is written into our DNA. It’s business as usual. It’s what we expect. It’s all we know. And to save anyone else the bother we even organise our own demise.
Caretaker manager Brian Flynn, a strict adherent to the contemporary commandment that a rictus, teeth-baring “smile” is compulsory at all times, says he now wants the job full-time – presumably to ensure lots more lovely, comforting defeats. Pondering his prospects of landing the vacant post he contributed a choice Flynnism (“Who knows what the future brings? That will be decided in the future”) and made his pitch as the arch establishment candidate by declaring that “no changes are necessary…the system we’ve got in place is correct” – an epic level of self-delusion and reality-denial normally found only in 20-units-a-day ‘social drinkers’. Should he not get the job, and it goes to one of the other equally conformist and uninspiring contenders (so far Chris Coleman, Ian Rush, John Hartson and Dean Saunders), Flynn’s not bothered: “I’ve still got my position as under-21 manager to continue with…so I would stay regardless of who came in.” He meant that to sound reassuring!
Flynn’s so keen to get the job permanently he even deigned to attend the Welsh Premier (WP) game between Neath and Bangor City at The Gnoll last weekend (the job description stipulates that a Wales manager “should be seen at Welsh Premier matches”). Asked afterwards for his thoughts, he immediately blew it by calling the WP “the League of Wales,” a name it has not operated under for eight years. Such a level of ignorance from an international manager about his own country’s domestic football would be unthinkable anywhere else in the world. But in Wales wilful ignorance of, and throwaway contempt for, all things Welsh are essential requirements to get on. Flynn ticks every box, and when the FAW managerial sub-committee announces Toshack’s successor in December (no doubt after a liquid lunch down at their East Moors HQ) I expect him to be a shoe-in. The only advice I can offer Welsh football fans is this: don’t make any travel plans for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.