Football: Gould faces first test of strategy

Wales' World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands in Cardiff tonight could be a defining evening for Bobby Gould. The former Wimbledon and Coventry manager has enjoyed a relatively gentle first season in charge of the Welsh side, but this is the first real test of his strategy.

Gould was a controversial, and somewhat surprising, choice to replace Mike Smith last summer, being selected ahead of candidates such as Mike Walker, who possessed both Welsh blood and successful European club experience. In seven matches in charge he has won and lost three games apiece - but the wins have been against Moldova, at home, and San Marino twice.

In the meantime, he has blooded a lot of young players, and taken a firm line with Wales' senior superstars - Ian Rush, Neville Southall and Mark Hughes. They have, in the past, been accused of player power and Gould initially dropped them all (to look at young players, he said). All but Rush have since returned to the fold.

Gould has also helped to raise football's profile in the Principality after poor results, and a series of blunders by the Football Association of Wales, left supporters disaffected. Tonight's match has sold out.

Now, however, he has to produce results, starting with a win tonight, if Wales are to have any chance of qualifying for the 1998 World Cup. Unfortunately for Gould, though, Ryan Giggs is suspended - for bookings in each of the farcical encounters with San Marino.

Gould has sought to make a virtue of his absence, suggesting that it will lead to an even greater team spirit - he has been seeking to replicate Wimbledon's "crazy gang'' ethos. This has some merit, especially against opponents with such fragile morale as the Dutch.

Wales are also without the injured Chris Coleman, but Mark Pembridge has passed a fitness test. There are no fewer than four Nationwide League player in the side - hardly the pedigree to frighten the Dutch.

However, they will also be below strength, notably in attack, with Dennis Bergkamp being the latest player to be ruled out. The Dutch could thus start with an attacking pair made up of two British-based players, neither of whom are current first choices at club level.

One of these is Jordi Cruyff, the other Pierre van Hooijdonk, who is in a contractual dispute with Celtic. "That does not worry me," Guus Hiddink, the Dutch coach, said. "Players are intelligent enough not to bring their club problems into the national squad. Sometimes it is a relief to be away from them.''

peopleNational cycling charity CTC said he 'should have known better'
Life and Style
The fashion retailers have said they will now not place any further orders for the slim mannequin
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - North West - Registered Charity

£31800 - £35400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This registered charity's missi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative - OTE £55,000

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Why not be in charge of your ow...

Recruitment Genius: Business Operations Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Peac...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food