Chris Coleman insists 'I am still the right man for the job' full press conference transcript
THE following is the transcript to Chris Coleman’s press conference following the 3-0 home defeat to Serbia that put Wales bottom of World Cup qualifying Group A.
Q: A very disappointing night, your thoughts?
A: “It took me back to last year, looking at the performance, coming in to the two games we were full of optimism and then we missed the chance to win the game against Macedonia, I thought we played well enough but didn’t win, and then losing.
We knew whatever happened today it was going to be a hard game, Serbia are always tough opposition regardless of who is missing and then our objective was to stay in the game because of what we had on the bench.
If we stay in the game maybe we’ve got a chance to get something but then we gave away two silly goals and if you look at pattern of campaign, we’ve done that (throughout). We said after the Macedonia game, we are too naive at times; we need to be more streetwise. We were too stand-off-ish, if you sit deep they had the capacity to open us up. When we defended narrow they still did, they switched the ball very well but the goals we gave away were poor. It’s soul destroying really. We came into these two games excited, thinking in the back of my head that I fancied us to get three points against Macedonia, then move on to this game with a slightly stronger side and with Gareth Bale playing more of a bigger part. I thought we had half a chance, but it wasn’t to be. But worse than that is the performance.”
Q: What do you put that down to Chris?
A: “I’ve got to take responsibility, I am the manager. I was taking it two games ago when we were on a decent run and then when the results don’t come you have to take the criticism; you have to take it on the chin. It’s disappointing; the worst thing is that before the two games we had a chance at third, now we’re bottom of the group. Two games ago we are looking one way and now we’re looking another and that’s disappointing.”
ARGUS: Chris, the fans’ disappointment at the end seemed to be directed to you, is that something you were aware of? Is it something you keep in consideration regarding your contract?
A: “I was aware of it, I don’t blame the supporters for being annoyed and angry, the very least they want when they come and watch us is a performance and they didn’t get that, I take responsibility for that, I’m the manager, plain and simple. Yes they are a strong team but it’s the manner we give goals away, consistently, it’s so disappointing.
Before the game starts we are never in it, we are chasing and I take full responsibility, that’s my job.”
Q: Do you think the last two games will have any effect over your new contract?
A: “I think it has an effect on the perception of us from outside the camp, this is a bad game for us. The defeat in Macedonia is bad in terms of the loss of points, but the performance? No. Anyone who watched us, we played well against a tough team. But I’m in the winning business, forget how well you play, you don’t get that, you look at results and we’ve lost two games. Coming into these games we’d made progress and were playing with fluidity but these last two games, we thought we’d take at least four points, ideally six, but when you don’t take the three against Macedonia, who with respect are no Serbia, it’s uphill for you. Even with our best team, this is a tough nut to crack. I look at it going forward, if we miss a lot of players next time around in a time group, four or five players... it’s hard for us. It’s hard for us anyway, we are a small nation. But with everyone fit I believe we’ve got a good team. In the next two, four, six years, I believe we can do quite well.
For me personally, the first 12 months in the job were really difficult, but in the last 12 months I’ve seen a lot of progress, before today.
The contract is agreed with the Welsh FA, but I haven’t signed it. If I thought I couldn’t effect the group of players we’ve got, I wouldn’t waste my time and I wouldn’t waste my countries time. But these players can do something special, I believe that. They’ll get a fresh run at it, as a whole, as a group, the next two or four years will be a good chance for us to do something.”
Q: Would you blame the FAW if they delayed your contract for the next two games, on the back of these last two results and performances?
A: “That’s short-term thinking isn’t it? If we are talking about judging someone over two games, that’s short term...”
Q: “I’m thinking three World Cup qualifying defeats in a row, fans booing, some calling for you to resign...
A: “Take this game away from it, before Macedonia everything is agreed and we played well in Macedonia without the result. They (the FAW) have to look at it as a whole and towards the future. I’m the same man now as I was last week, there is no difference. The difference is we lost heavily at home to Serbia and we lost to Macedonia. I know football is short-term and that’s the way it’s gone, it’s the same for everyone. But up until tonight we’ve been playing well and progressing.”
Q: When do you expect to sign the deal?
A: “I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you, I am just looking at the whole situation, I’ll go over and over this game. I’ll speak with the powers that be, but I haven’t thought about it. I know there were sections of the crowd not happy with me, I don’t blame them for that, I think they’ve been behind us, they’ve been behind us if we’ve lost, but performed, but we didn’t perform tonight. We didn’t commit to defending as a group; we never really attacked with enough belief until Baley came on. I don’t blame their reaction, but as a manager you shut that out or you can’t get on with doing what you believe in.
“Since I took the job there has been resistance to me from certain quarters. It’s been a tough two years but up until this game I thought we’d progressed. The last year has been a lot better, but tomorrow I’ll go into the office and we’ll take it from there.”
Q: Your thoughts approaching the next two games?
“We can’t finish bottom can we? We don’t want to be finishing bottom. Football changes quickly, before the two games we’re positive and looking to finish as high as we can, now we don’t want to finish bottom, we need to get off bottom. On the back of a 3-0 defeat and not a great performance it’s a tough one because we’re on a negative.”
ARGUS: Chris, you described the negative perception outside the camp, we felt Wales were moving in the right direction, but isn’t the outside perception that you are going backwards?
“I think the last three games... tonight, yeah, fair enough. Macedonia beat Serbia in Macedonia, people don’t enough about them, and they’ve pushed every team in this group. They drew with Scotland, beat Serbia, pushed Croatia. Croatia, Belgium and this team (Serbia) are above the three other teams in the group. It’s tough for us. At our best we’ve got a chance, but we weren’t at our best. But only the result disappointed me in Macedonia, not the performance and the same against Croatia, a top ten team who we were beating with ten minutes to go. But tonight it feels like we’ve taken a backward step, it’s a bitter one to swallow.”
ARGUS: A lot of the fans though will say look what Scotland have done since they played Wales. They’ve beaten Croatia and beaten Macedonia, the risk is you suffer by comparison?
A: “We do, yes. But look, we’ve beaten Scotland twice. Macedonia beat Serbia. Serbia hammered us. Everyone beats everyone except Belgium, who have run away with it. We’ve not done anything special, we know that, we’ve got two really tough games to come, but we thought we could have a good strong finish after two good results in the last two games. Now we need a strong finish for completely different reasons.
When I say perception, I know you’ve got to look at results. But you have to look at facts as well. We don’t have a squad where we can miss four or five of your best players, but for us, they’ve never all been on the pitch together.
If that continues, with another man in charge, I don’t see how there will be any difference. What I’m saying is, with this group, when all the players are fit, whoever is in charge, this group can do good things.”
Q: Do you feel under pressure Chris?
A: “From the first day I came into the job I’ve felt under pressure, I think because I’m very patriotic and desperate to win, plus the circumstances in which I got the job, which I’ve always wanted to do, were horrendous. I never wanted it in those circumstances, so from the minute I walked in I’ve felt under pressure, but I’ve always wanted to do the job. I’ll give you an example. The difference between the press conference I did before the Macedonia game and the one after. Before it was all Bale and progress, now it’s different, the situation is different. That’s football, that’s just the way it is.”
Q: Are you confident of being manager at the start of the next campaign?
A: “I haven’t got any plans to be doing anything else. Simple as that. Two games ago I was excited. I can’t say we’ll put it right next week because it’s international football, we must wait a month now and that’s a long time, but it can be even longer.
“But I don’t have plans to go anywhere and I’m excited about this group. It seems funny to say because we’ve lost to Macedonia and Serbia but I do believe we’ve got good players when they are all fit and ready.
Q: Can you afford to lose to Macedonia?
A: “No, I probably can’t. I think it’s one of those games where you find out about people... we need to win against Macedonia, the crowd will demand we attack and go and win the game. That will test all of us. We won’t change our style, we’ll be patient, and we’ve got players who suit a certain philosophy. But we have to win, after tonight we need to get some pride back.”
Q: Can you take any positives from tonight?
A: “No, in all honesty, I can’t, I can’t look at it and say that wasn’t bad, they are 3-0 up and we bring Gareth on, but the game is done. They were too good to surrender that. I’m disappointed in the nature of the goals, you can’t do that at this level, and we have to grow up quickly. We need to become smarter and more streetwise.”
Q: Do you think you’re still the right man to lead Wales into their next qualification campaign?
A: “I’ve got every intention of doing that. I’ve been in the job two years... I have two wins out of eight games and six defeats. It’s not a good record. I’ll choose words carefully. I am still excited about the players we could have available to us and I think the next campaign will be a better one for our experiences in this one.
International management is tough. For me the first 12 months was much harder for obvious reasons. As a club manager when you lose it’s the worst feeling, you agonise, you can’t sleep, but when it’s your country it is even worse, it’s amplified. But such is the honour of doing the job and my belief in the players. If I didn’t have that belief I wouldn’t do the job. We’ve got players who will be better for this experience. But what worries me is our strength in depth. After we have one or two out, it becomes very hard for us.”
Q: Will your experiences make you a better manager?
A: “When I got the job at Fulham I was 32 and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I thought I did, my ego told me I did, I stayed four or five years, but as a manager I’m better now that I was then. We’ve won two games in eight, but the experiences I’ve had in the past two years will make me an even better manager. Of course I can hear the criticism from the crowd, but it makes you stronger, it’s another experience and you learn from it or you don’t. I do think that (I’ll be a better manager) but it doesn’t make it any easier, it doesn’t make this defeat hurt any less. Tonight is a tough one as we didn’t play well.”
Q: Is this your toughest spell as a manager Chris?
A: “It’s my toughest job, the toughest I’ve taken. Fulham was hard, small budget, trying to keep them in the league, a good time in Spain, but managing your country is a different kind of pressure. You manage a club you’ve got 10, 20, 30,000 fans to keep happy, with your country you’ve got 3.5 million people willing you to do well and when you don’t, when you lose, it’s a tough one, much harder, international management is much harder.
“I’ve been honest before, the first 12 months; I didn’t like it at all. Now? There are parts I’d like to change, things I want to change, I’m not entirely happy with everything, but the last 12 months have been better and I have seen progress up until tonight. What do you do? I can’t throw my toys out because I’m getting criticism and pressure; I’ve never ever shied away from a challenge, as a player or manager.
“I wouldn’t want to walk away from this group of players because they are a good set. There are one or two things I’d change about the group, which will happen, but on the whole I see them as a good group of players and I think having a clean run at it they will be a lot better next time around than this time, that’s for sure.”
Q: How do you seeing fans on social media saying you should go, or resign, or not be given a new contract, fans booing, etc?
A: I never look on websites, I rarely read a paper, and I watch MOTD and watch football on Sky TV. That’s not a dig at you guys, you are paid to write whatever you write, but I can’t afford to read stories. I don’t do Twitter. My Mrs does Twitter, and she’ll tell me things on there, someone is saying this, but I honestly don’t care. Equally, when things are going well and people say ‘you’re doing a good job,’ it’s nice, but I don’t get carried away with that either.
“It’s dangerous. You got too low or high it’s dangerous, I’ve got to stay neutral and that’s experience, knowing football can change quickly.
“Look where we are now. This time last week, full of confidence. Two games, two defeats, totally different. But I don’t blame the fans for a backlash tonight, at all. Friday was different, the Bale issue was a sidetrack and it was a disappointing result. But I don’t think short-term, I’m gutted we lost tonight and didn’t perform, at home, in the capital. But I have to plan long-term, you as a manager, are only ever a certain amount of results away from the exit. You have to hope and pray people look at it and want to go the same way as you.”
Q: Gareth Bale played 32 minutes, is that something you cleared with Real Madrid before you played him?
A: “No. I spoke with Gareth. He had the scan yesterday, so psychologically he felt good, and he had the Thursday training session, Friday he didn’t feel he could take part, so he didn’t.
I think the scan gave him peace of mind and he said he could play 20, 30 minutes. And I think you saw, after quarter of an hour he looked tired, he didn’t have that burst of pace he normally has. But you don’t expect it; he’s only had four training sessions. But he came on and gave everyone a lift, got the fans excited, but the game was done and dusted by then.
The plan was to bring him on and give him 30 minutes, but we needed to be in the game and we weren’t, the game was lost by then, though it was nice for the Welsh supporters to see him.
Q: Do you think with that in mind he has a chance to start for Real Madrid at the weekend?
A: In all fairness, the Spanish league is much slower than the Premier League, but so is international football. If he starts the game he won’t finish it, I’d be amazed if he does. Pure and simple, we’ve looked at him for ten days and he’s nowhere near ready to complete 90 minutes. If he starts, on the back of his time with us, he may start, may get 45 minutes, but I don’t think he’ll finish. He’s had four training sessions in two months, which is dangerous.”
Q: Is there a part of you that thought, 3-0 down, why risk him?
A: “Its one where if I turn left some people will say I should’ve gone right and if I jump up, I should’ve sat down. So no, I stuck to the plan to bring him on, I told him before the game, come on with 25-30 minutes. And he deserved to come on. Ireland, wasn’t fit, came away with the squad, great attitude. I said all along, come along; don’t just not come because there is a chance you won’t play. And again, he’s here. He wasn’t fit enough for the first game, but worked hard and gave himself a chance for the second one.
When you’ve got a player like that, you’ve got to use him, whatever the score. He was always going to come on the pitch tonight.”
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