Coleman yet to decide on backroom team

 

Soccer: New Wales manager Chris Coleman will speak to the coaching staff that served under Gary Speed before deciding on his backroom team. The 41-year-old was named as the successor to his close friend Speed, who guided Wales through a run of four wins in five games that had seen them climb into the world's top 50.

During the Football Association of Wales' search for a new manager in the wake of Speed's death in November, captain Aaron Ramsey and winger Gareth Bale both called for assistants Raymond Verheijen and Osian Roberts to retain their roles in the national set-up in an effort to continue the winning momentum.

Verheijen, whose contract with the FAW expired at the end of December, was particularly outspoken, going as far as to suggest that Speed would have wanted himself and Roberts to lead Wales in his absence.

Coleman, whose contract will take him through to the 2014 World Cup, has been tipped to bring in former Wales and Fulham team-mate Kit Symons as his assistant manager. But the former Fulham, Real Sociedad, Coventry and Larissa manager says he needs to speak to those who worked under Speed before making any decision.

Coleman did acknowledge that he may look to bring in a familiar face.

He said: "I've seen the comments but I've not had the chance to speak to many of the staff. We have got other things running parallel at the moment but there are certain people I need to talk with, not just Raymond.

"I have a very close friendship with Kit. He's doing a great job at Fulham with their under-18s. He's very highly thought of there. Like any manager, every job I've taken I'm not going in with a big axe, sacking people but at the same time I like to take in faces I know. But for me to say I am going to bring this guy or that guy in is disrespectful to the staff already there."

Coleman said he empathised with the comments made by Ramsey, believing them to be a sign of the Arsenal midfielder's desire to see Wales be successful, although he stopped short of confirming he would retain the captaincy.

He has had held talks with Ramsey, Ashley Williams, Craig Bellamy and Robert Earnshaw, and intends to hold longer discussions with squad members over the coming weeks before his first match in charge against Costa Rica on February 29, a match being held in Speed's memory.

Coleman says he is keen to build on the legacy left by Speed as he casts his mind forward to the start of World Cup qualifying in the autumn, but has warned that he is his own man and will not shy away from difficult decisions.

"I've spoken with three or four of the senior boys. I understand where some of them are coming from. I've already said: 'If it's not broke, you don't fix it.'

"I'd be a fool to come in here and start again because that's not what it needs. I've got no intention of doing that. I love this philosophy of playing. I love what's been happening at Swansea City and I've tried to implement the same in Greece with Larissa. At the same time, the tail cannot wag the dog. It has to be the other way around.

"So, whilst I understand some of the comments, and we are talking about Aaron Ramsey of course, he is the captain of his country. He cares about what happens to Wales. He knows at the moment it is going very well and he doesn't want break that. I understand that. I've had a brief conversation with him, I'll have a longer one over a cup of coffee.

"I'm not going to change everything, but I'm my own man and if something does need to change, then it will be changed. But, from the outside, looking in, I don't think a lot needs to be changed. But there can only be one boss. You can't do it any other way. I don't go around like a headmaster, we have a lot of good players playing in the Premier League with good managers. But I have never worked in a situation where I have let the players boss me."

While Coleman described his appointment as "the proudest moment in my career" he acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding Speed's death made it a "bittersweet" experience.

And he paid a heartfelt tribute to his former team-mate.

He said: "I always remember Gary smiling and laughing. I don't know anyone who didn't like him. The first time I came across him was a Welsh Cup final when we were Under-11s. I was playing for Swansea and he was at Deeside.

"We had heard all about this number 10 who was a bit useful. He scored a hat-trick. He ran the game, he was on another level. That was my first experience together. We have played together right the way through.

"He was just a great guy. You can't replace people like that. I'm not just talking about people in football. I'm talking about people in life. I'm going to miss him."