After a shaky start, it’s fair to say Gary Speed and his coaching staff will be delighted with the way 2011 has panned out. A 4-1 win against Norway at the Cardiff City stadium gave Wales their third successive victory, a feat not achieved since 2008.
An impressive run of form has resulted in a return of four wins from five and it could be argued that while Wales have such momentum, the subsequent break from international football has come at the wrong time.
The manager admits that while the impetus is there to move forward, he still believes his side are not fully equipped for the World Cup Campaign and welcomes the opportunity to develop further before the competitive games come around.
“In terms of momentum, I suppose it would be good to play the qualifiers now, but I don’t feel we are ready yet. There’s still lots to learn.”
Speed backs up his comments in his analysis of the team’s performance against Norway. While he was pleased with the overall result, he felt the score line flattered his side and insists there were still plenty of lessons to learn.
“Norway caused us a lot of problems today and it’s something we’ll learn from because the first twenty minutes I thought it was the best we’ve played but I think after we went 2-0 up, we got a bit complacent.
We took our foot off the pedal and stopped doing the things that got us to 2-0 up and let them back in the game. That’s a lesson we must learn. You can’t afford to let teams as good as that back into games.”
While his side may have become complacent during the game, it is reassuring to know the manager and his coaching staff are not content to sit on their laurels and are continually striving to move Wales forward.
The fans are understandably upbeat about the upcoming campaign and Speed and his players must take immense credit for the turnaround in their fortunes so far, but the manager is right to exercise caution. He stressed:
“We’ll learn a lot today from what we did when Norway came back into the game and how we coped with it. Hopefully the games between now and when the World Cup starts will improve us even more.”