There is no doubt that John Toshack was once a very good manager. His achievement in taking Swansea City from the Fourth Division in 1978 to 6th in the First Division at the end of the 1981-82 season should not be forgotten.
His subsequent record in Spain, including leading Real Madrid to the La Liga title in 1989-90 (the last of 5 titles in a row for the club between 1986 and 1990) created the impression that he was not only a good manager, but a successful one as well.
It was no wonder that his appointment as manager of Wales in 1994 was expected to bring success to a “nation” that had suffered a series of near misses and disappointments over the preceding 20 years.
Toshack lasted just 41 days, resigning after a 1-3 defeat to Norway in Cardiff. Although he continued to manage various European clubs until his appointment as manager of Wales for the second time in 2004, his record as a club manager in those 10 years was nowhere near as outstanding as before. In fact, the last two clubs he managed before returning to Wales were average clubs in the second tiers of the Italian and Spanish leagues respectively.
Wales’ results in Toshack’s second stint as manager have also been mediocre to say the least. Not only have Wales failed to qualify for Euro 2008, with only 3 games left, they lie second from bottom of Group D, with only pointless San Marino below them.
Wales are due to play San Marino on Wednesday. It is a match from which Wales have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Not only are San Marino pointless, in their 10 games so far, they have conceded 50 goals and scored only 1. If Wales win, even handsomely, it is what would have been expected from them anyway. If they fail to win, the knives will be out.
It is all the more ironical that Toshack was often critical of his predecessor, Mark Hughes, who was in fact relatively successful as Welsh manager.
Whatever his motives in saying so, Rob Savage is right – Toshack must go. Unfortunately, there is no obvious replacement at the present time. Perhaps Chris Coleman, another Welshman now managing at Real Sociedad, the club which Toshack spent the most time with, might one day become manager of Wales. Not only has Coleman, who managed to keep Fulham in the Premier League from 2003 to 2007, experience in the top flight in England, his time in Spain will stand him in good stead should he ever come round to managing Wales.
In the meantime, Welsh fans can only dream of qualifying for the final stages of either the World Cup or the European Championships.