Football: Gould is rewarded by team's new spirit

European Championship: Doubts remain over Hoddle's tactical choices but Wales manager answers his critics
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The Independent Online
THE REBIRTH of Bobby Gould as Wales manager was all but completed on Wednesday by the 3-2 win over Belarus that left his side joint top of their European Championship qualifying group alongside Italy.

Gould had been written off a week ago, but two victories in five days have apparently transformed him into a manager with a chance of taking the Welsh to their first major championship finals for 40 years.

"In my wildest dreams I hoped for four points from the two matches," Gould said. He has taken direct responsibility for every Wales side from the Under-16s to the seniors. That makes him all-powerful now, with more involvement than any Welsh manager before him.

"When I took over I didn't see it as just one team to control," Gould explained. "I want to establish Wales on a club basis, I know every player now at every level. I want to have that spirit you get inside clubs. You want to build for the future and you don't want to be building on sand. I recall asking at my interview with the Football Association of Wales whether the councillors had a dream and what that dream was.

"Their dreams are my dreams, but I said that you have to allow managers to manage and build the foundations. I am still excited at what I see coming through - the basis is there.

"But Welsh football has an increasingly sound future and I have enjoyed the challenge, particularly in the past few days. It has been a wonderful period for me to have had the players. It has built a team spirit and these two results have ensured a super five days."

Gould will not seek further friendly fixtures before Wales' next qualifier against Switzerland on 31 March.

"I will use the next international date, which is in February, to have a get-together with the players, but I want to keep building on what is coming through and we will play an Under-21 game in Portugal in November, and maybe one more.

"It is the only way we can do it. I want to fast-track the best youngsters through to the senior side, lads like Craig Bellamy. It is the only way that Wales will get any benefit from what is happening - by building the foundations and getting the youngsters through quickly."