Chris Coleman will today be named as the new Wales manager, entrusted with succeeding Gary Speed, who committed suicide two months ago. The former Fulham manager was the overwhelming choice of the Football Association of Wales.
The 41-year-old greatly impressed the six-strong panel in an interview on Monday and so will lead his country in the memorial match for Speed, against Costa Rica at the Cardiff City Stadium in six weeks' time. Before that he will need to decide on his back-room staff and be risking the ire of some of his senior squad members if he does not go with Speed's two assistants, Raymond Verheijen and Ossian Roberts.
The process of replacing Speed became mired in controversy when Verheijen and the team captain, the Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, criticised the FAW for the manner in which it handled the succession. Ramsey expressed his belief that he and other senior players should have been consulted in the recruitment, while Verheijen said the FAW would "turn [its] back" on Speed if it was to bring in an entirely new management team. Both were concerned that a new regime would arrest the recent progress that has seen Wales rise 73 places in the Fifa world rankings, with three wins in four games.
Coleman will have doubts about Verheijen, who even yesterday, as the imminent appointment became clear, was using Twitter to pass critical comment. The Dutchman wrote: "Wales are winning. Still, it's the players & staff who have to explain & defend themselves when asking for continuity. The world upside down."
Coleman is well aware of the dangers of meddling, especially since Wales have been so successful of late. "It's a stupid man who goes in there and takes the job, whether it's me or anyone else, and changes everything," he said.
Coleman's most recent managerial role was with the Greek club Larissa; he resigned two weeks ago. Having retired from playing in 2002, as a result of a broken leg and subsequent knee pain, Coleman, who won 32 Wales caps, became Fulham manager in 2003. After four years at Craven Cottage he had six months in Spain with Real Sociedad before two years as manager of Coventry City, until he lost his job in May 2010. Having been a good friend of Speed, he will be in a sombre mood when he is unveiled in Cardiff this lunchtime.
"It is a very sensitive situation so if I am offered the job and I accept it I'll have mixed emotions," he said at the weekend. "If it is to be – if the job is mine – then it will be the pinnacle for me. Managing your country is the pinnacle for any manager. In another situation, I'd probably be on cloud nine but because of the situation, because it was Gary, who was a close friend, of course I almost feel a little bit guilty that I'm even going to talk about taking the job, because Gary is no longer with us."