George Burley, the Scotland manager, was last night on the brink of being dismissed after the Scottish Football Association board announced it will meet this week to review his position.
Burley had come perilously close to losing his job in September when Scotland failed to reach next year's World Cup finals. However, he won a reprieve and was expected to lead the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championship. Yet, this defeat and the response of the Scotland supporters who travelled to Cardiff looks to have produced a rapid rethink by the SFA.
It might have been the disarming ease with which Aaron Ramsey so elegantly scored the third goal, or the belligerent chants of the Scotland fans who demanded that Burley quit, but perhaps the most telling judgement on Saturday was delivered by the manager himself. In the aftermath of this, he revealed a truth that might yet come to say everything about his time in charge.
"That's where we are as a country," Burley said. "I can't magically bring other players into the squad. I'm picking the best players and trying to get the best out of them. That's all I can do." He meant it as a statement of defence but it sounded like an admission of surrender.
The supporters certainly made their feelings known, jeering when Burley's face appeared on the stadium's TV screen. "I'm not surprised," Burley said. "When your team plays like that you're going to get stick from the fans. We folded like a pack of cards. Shocking defending, a very poor display. There's no excuse, that performance wasn't good enough."
Burley's record is now three wins in 14 games and an overwhelming weight of opinion has built against him. The game, though, gathered itself around the smooth brilliance of Ramsey's play, the 18-year-old's guile released by a role behind the front two. It was from Ramsey's cross that David Edwards scored the opener with an acrobatic volley, then the Arsenal midfielder's pass provided Joe Ledley with the time and space to centre for Simon Church to add the second.
By this stage, midway through the first half, Scotland were playing with indecision, with Danny Fox misplacing a pass straight to Ramsey, who ran the ball into the penalty area then clipped a shot beyond David Marshall.
"Of course I feel for George," said John Toshack, the Wales manager. "I felt 3-0 was a little bit exaggerated, the Scots were better than that scoreline. George didn't deserve that." However well meaning, Toshack's compassion seemed like further damnation for a manager lost to his fate.
Wales: Hennessey; Ricketts, Morgan, Nyatanga (Gabbidon, 60), Bale, Edwards (Cotterill, 88), Williams, Ramsey (Allen, 57), Ledley (King, 80); Church (Vokes, h-t), Evans (Earnshaw, h-t). Substitutes not used: Brown, Easter, Dorman, Cotterill, Matthews, Blake.
Scotland: Marshall; Hutton, G Caldwell, McManus, Fox (Wallace, 54); Cowie (Riordan, 78), D Fletcher, Dorrans (Robson, 71), Naismith (McCormack, 62); Miller (S Fletcher, 54), McFadden (Kyle, 62). Substitutes not used: Langfield, Bera, S Caldwell, Adam, Gallacher.
Referee: C Zimmermann (Swit).
Booked: Wales Morgan; Scotland Marshall.
Man of the match: Ramsey.
Attendance: 13,844.Reuse content