The fact that anyone would want to take the Sunderland job right now is a miracle, but the fact that Chris Coleman took up the mantle was particularly shocking. The berth seems a poisoned chalice and hardly enhanced the careers of predecessors Gus Poyet, Paolo Di Canio, Dick Advocaat, David Moyes or Simon Grayson.
However, if you want a manager capable of rallying the troops, and whipping up an incredible team spirit, then there can be very few better than Coleman. He inherited an under-performing Wales side, scarred from the loss of former manager Gary Speed. The way he took the job over was far from ideal, but he’s leaving the nation in a far better than state than when he took over.
Chris Coleman was the man behind the glorious summer of 2016, that took Wales, a tiny country barely 200 miles from top to bottom and, without an appearance at a major tournament since the 1950s, to the semi-finals of the European Championships.
As a Welshman, international football was never really a big deal. The country was bereft of quality players, outside of Ryan Giggs and a couple of others, and there was never really any promise of the team going anywhere. Even when you look at the squad now, there are some lower tier Premier League players, Championship players, and the two star men Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale. That squad was by no means stellar.
Coleman’s terrific management skills rallied the team around each other, and the nation behind them. There is seldom negative press about the Welsh national team, least of all in Wales. A player with the superstardom of Bale would never say that he’s the main man, it’s about a team effort. Great individuals win nothing, but a great team will get you places.
There was no better example of this than the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. A Belgium team stacked with world-class players, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to name but a few, were outperformed by the Welsh, who simply wanted it more. Look at the performances of the players in that tournament; Ashley Williams was the definition of a warrior on the field, leading his team. Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen were workhorses who never stopped running. And Gareth Bale was the effective, decisive talisman that his team needed him to be.
In reality, Wales probably should have qualified for the World Cup. While Ireland and Serbia possess very talented players, Coleman’s men definitely under-performed in their failure to qualify for Russia 2018. Chris Coleman couldn’t take this team any further than he did last summer, and you could argue he should have resigned then, as his stock will never be higher than that.
But now a look at the future has already been shown, with talented youngsters Ben Woodburn and Tom Lawrence leading the way. The country of Wales should now pray, that they don’t end up with Tony Pulis telling Gareth Bale to get on the end of long balls delivered by Ashley Williams.
Will Wales’ loss be Sunderland’s gain? Let us know what you think of Chris Coleman’s decision in the comments below!