Welsh FA to put manager search on hold

 

The Football Association of Wales council will not hold talks over finding a successor for Gary Speed when they meet on Thursday, Press Association Sport understands.

Reports had suggested that Thursday's meeting would include tentative talks over finding the man to fill the void left by the death of manager Speed at his family home in Cheshire on Sunday at the age of 42.

But it is understood that the FAW consider any discussions of such a nature to be highly insensitive given that Speed's funeral has yet to take place, with any deliberations set to be put on hold until at least the next council meeting in late December.

Wales do not have a game until a planned friendly in February, against as yet unnamed opposition.

The inquest into Speed's death begins today at Warrington Coroner's Court.

A stream of tributes have poured in from around the world in memory of the former Wales, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder.

The FAW have opened a book of condolence at their headquarters in Cardiff while tributes have been left outside the grounds of Speed's former clubs.

FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford spoke yesterday of the organisation's desire to find a fitting tribute to the late Wales manager.

It is understood one of the options is for the February friendly to be used as an opportunity to celebrate Speed's life and career.

Costa Rica, the country against whom Speed won the first of his 85 caps in 1990, could potentially provide the opposition although a deal for the game is not thought to be close to being agreed at this time.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, speaking during a press conference looking ahead to tomorrow's Europa League meeting with PAOK, said: "Like everyone involved in football there's been nothing else you can think about all weekend.

"Ever since I heard the news on Sunday I just can't get it out of mind. It's unbelievable.

"A lad I've never heard anyone say a bad word about, everyone loved him. The most unlikely lad you can ever see doing something like that.

"It's beyond belief. Unbelievable.

"I was with Gary a few weeks back - I managed a team in a charity game for Hartson. He managed a Welsh team of ex players and celebrities, I did an England team.

"We had a great night at Derby and raised some money for John's charity. Gary played, looked like he could still play - he never stopped running around. He was like a 20-year-old. He was in such great condition and he was a great guy.

"We talked about Wales, how well he'd got them playing. He got them playing so well.

"They were great at Wembley, had a fantastic couple of results recently, he got them playing the way he wanted.

"They were passing it from the back, he got them moving it around well. They looked fantastic.

"It was like there was something special happening with the Welsh team. It must be a massive blow to all those boys who worked with him."

Former Premier League striker Mark Bright has revealed he was shocked at the news of Speed's death and has described his loss to the sport as "huge".

"I was bowled over," he said. "I learned on Sunday and like everyone else I could not believe it.

"I made some calls and spoke to Gary McAllister and Robbie Savage and it was unbelievable, I could not process it."

Bright now works as a television pundit and had watched Speed on BBC's Football Focus the day before the Wales manager was found dead.

Bright said: "He looked healthy and happy and energetic. I fought with it on Sunday and yesterday and could not make head nor tail of it.

"You speak to people you know, people in the game and friends and I'm just staggered.

"Yesterday I avoided the TV because I had my own thoughts and I did not want to hear anymore.

"In football people will say things to your face but behind your back say different things but I have never met anyone in football who has said a bad word about him.

"He had given the Welsh people, who are a proud nation, something to smile about and be optimistic about in the future.

"He unified the team and started to get some good results."

PA

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