Belfast Telegraph

Wales stars in call for Coleman to stay at helm

 

By Phil Blanche

Chris Coleman has met senior players and been urged to stay on as Wales manager despite the failure to qualify for next year's World Cup finals in Russia.

It's understood that Coleman met with key players - including the injured Gareth Bale - at the team hotel following their 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on Monday night.

The squad have given their unanimous support to Coleman, and it is also understood that the Football Association of Wales is hoping Coleman extends his near six-year stay at the helm.

Coleman said in the immediate aftermath of the defeat that he would hold talks with the FAW over his future.

Those talks are set to take place in the next few weeks, ahead of a planned home friendly next month which sees Mexico and the United States topping the list of potential visitors to Cardiff.

Coleman said after Wales had reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 that the 2018 World Cup campaign would be his last in charge.

But his stance appears to have softened in the last 12 months and Coleman could be open to the idea of changing his mind and leading Wales into the Euro 2020 campaign.

The 47-year-old certainly has the backing of his players with defender Chris Gunter calling for the FAW to "give him a really good contract and make him stay".

"I think everyone in Wales would want to see him stay on - 100 per cent," Gunter said.

"He's been a massive part of what we've done and he is the man to take us forward.

"If the powers that be can give him a really good contract and make him stay, he can carry on being the greatest Welsh manager of all time."

Coleman became Wales manager in January 2012 following the death of his great friend Gary Speed.

The former Fulham and Real Sociedad boss endured a tough start to his reign but turned around Wales' fortunes in dramatic fashion at Euro 2016.

Wales qualified for their first tournament in 58 years - and then made it all the way to the semi-finals in France.

Wales' first competitive home defeat for four years means the long wait for another World Cup finals appearance goes on.

Next summer's tournament in Russia will mark the 60th anniversary of Wales' only previous finals appearance, in Sweden in 1958.

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