Not-so-mighty Flynn's tall order to save Wales

The smile as wide as the Severn Bridge, along with the enthusiastic pre-match mantra which had encapsulated Brian Flynn's breezy arrival as interim Wales manager, was missing.

Deep down, Flynn knew the first leg of his two-game trial for the full-time job he craves had taken a hefty blow on Friday night.

There was to be no fairytale for the small man of Welsh football who wants the big job. Normally the most jovial of characters, the likeable 5ft 3in Flynn was strugglingto lift himself.

He may not be the high-profile manager some Welsh fans want, but Flynn knew the position was there for the taking. Instead, after a 1-0 defeat by Bulgaria, Welsh football faces up to a doomed Euro 2012 campaign which appears over before it really ever got going.

England were always favourites for the top spot in Group G, but after targeting second place, Wales now simply have pride to play for.

"It leaves it very difficult for us now to get second place," said the Aston Villa defender James Collins. "You can't expect to lose your two first games and qualify. Brian's disappointed, as he wants to do well in these two games like we all do.

"Training has been superb all week. We tried to play the way he wanted to play but we've got to sustain it for the whole game. We started well, then faded, and they've come here and done a job on us.

"Some of the young boys here haven't been involved in something like this so they will have to lift themselves now for the game in Switzerland on Tuesday."

This was meant to herald a new dawn for Welsh football, with a country desperate to end a 52-year-wait to reach a major finals, but the rows of empty seats – with just 14,000 at the Cardiff City Stadium – told their own depressing story.

It showed that a new manager cannot simply wave a magic wand over a struggling nation. Flynn won his promotion to the senior set-up having polished some gems with the Wales Under-21 side. The jewel in the crown, the injured Aaron Ramsey, remains sorely missed.

To Flynn's cost, he discovering that playing young men against seasoned, streetwise internationalplayers is another thing altogether.It was Ivelin Popov's 48th-minute winner that condemned a Wales side over-reliant on the long ball to defeat. It could and should have been worse against a country who can also count themselves all but out of the equation.

Chris Gunter's red card in added time only compounded the misery for Wales as the struggling full-back, who should have given Wales an early lead, became the first Welshman to be dismissed since Robbie Savage six years ago. Savage, who is closing on 36, still wants to play for Wales. He won't and he certainly shouldn't. Instead it's up to the likes of Swansea's highlyrated defender Ashley Williams to lead the way forward.

"I don't think it's a case of letting Brian down, we've let everyone involved down," said Williams, the stand-in captain. "We would have liked to have got the win for him but we couldn't. We set up a bit differently, we'd worked on it all week and it suited the players – but for some reason it didn't come off." An all-too-familiar tale of woe for Welsh fans if there ever was one.

Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all