FOOTBALL: Toshack realistic over future tasks

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The Independent Online
AS SOMEONE who has twice been through the madness of managing Real Madrid, John Toshack does realism quite well. In the aftermath of Wednesday's surprisingly uplifting victory over Hungary, a team good enough to have humbled Scotland at Hampden Park last August, the temptation must have been to proclaim the potential of a young, largely untried squad in his first match as their manager.

Instead, Toshack chose to point out that Wales do friendly internationals well - it is when matches matter that they have stumbled. Under Mark Hughes, Wales overcame Germany, drew with Argentina and thrashed Scotland. Yet when their great test came to take World Cup qualifying points off England at Old Trafford, they barely managed a shot at goal.

Naturally, a 2-0 victory over the Hungarians, courtesy of two goals from Craig Bellamy, was a rather better result than Toshack's only previous match as Welsh manager, an incoherent defeat by Norway. Yet when he resigned in its aftermath he walked away from a better squad than the one he will take into next month's double-header with Austria. At least, however, Toshack ought not to be hampered by the withdrawals that gave him half an hour to discuss a new tactical formation with an untested team.

In 1994, he had available Dean Saunders, Ian Rush and Mark Hughes in attack, not to mention Gary Speed and Ryan Giggs. On Wednesday night, Toshack had three Premiership players supported by largely untried performers and captained by Robert Page - who, unable to get a game for his club, was told he would be required to turn out for Cardiff City Reserves if he was not wanted in the Millennium Stadium.

Had Bellamy not engineered a loan move to Celtic, he would not even have played for Newcastle's second string, so deep was his feud with Graeme Souness. Bellamy is frequently angry, both at himself and with others, and how that anger is directed determines how he performs. Furious at his absence from three Champions' League fixtures because of a headbutting incident in Kiev, Bellamy returned to Bobby Robson's Newcastle side and drove them to an unlikely victory away to Feyenoord that ensured their qualification for the competition's second phase. Under Souness, his anger at being played out of position was entirely negative.

On Wednesday night he very publicly proved a point and his partnership with the equally fast Rob Earnshaw was an intriguing one. "Everyone knows how confident Craig is; he'll always tell you how good he is," said the West Bromwich Albion striker. "But as Mr Mourinho says, you can mistake self- confidence for arrogance.

"A lot of people are big- headed in life but you have to be confident as a footballer. Bellamy will always say exactly what's on his mind and it won't matter who he's saying it to. Sometimes people disagree and take it the wrong way but I'm just pleased for him."

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