'Giggs will have to turn up for games!' - Toshack teases Wales boss over friendly record

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The former coach has pointed out that he was often unable to call upon the Manchester United legend during his time in charge of the national side

Ryan Giggs is the new man in charge of Wales, with John Toshack teasing the Manchester United legend by pointing out he will now have to “turn up for the games”.

In his playing days, the former Red Devils winger would often be made unavailable for non-competitive fixtures.

As a result, despite being part of the Welsh set-up for 16 years, he only earned 64 caps for his country.

Toshack was among those managers to be left frustrated by Sir Alex Ferguson’s reluctance to release key United stars for friendly games, but Giggs is now at the helm himself and about to experience firsthand how difficult life in the dugout can be.

“The first thing Ryan will have to do is to turn up for the games!” Toshack told Goal when reflecting on the appointment of the 44-year-old as Wales’ new boss.

“Because when he was a player, he never turned up for half the matches. Any time we had a friendly match, Fergie pulled him out! He never came!

“So the first thing he’s got to do is turn up, just to be there for friendly games. And then we’ll have to see then what develops.

“I’m not quite sure what kind of coaches he’ll have in there with him. I think there’s a solid base there for him to start with now but within 12-18 months, they’re going to have to start to turn things around again and that’s always a difficult transitional period.

“But obviously, we wish him the very best. He played at the very highest level, won everything there is to win in the game. We’re not going to learn anything about Ryan Giggs the player now, but management is a different thing, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Toshack has taken in two spells as Wales coach – firstly in 1994 and then again between 2004 and 2010 – and he acknowledges that Giggs will face similar challenges to him when it comes to picking from a limited talent pool.

The ex-Real Madrid manager added: “I know this Welsh side very well. I managed Wales for six years at a very difficult time, when the old players were finishing. We had to push a lot of these young players through.

“If you’re a manager of a national side, you can’t buy players. You can’t sell them, either. I would have sold a few, if I could! You’re stuck with what you’ve got. And we were in a position where we had to push these young players through.

“[Wayne] Hennessey, the goalkeeper, 19. Ashley Williams, the centre back, 22. Gareth Bale was 17, Aaron Ramsey, 18. Strikers Simon Church, Ched Evans. All young players. So we had to play a little bit of damage limitation to a system: You can’t be going out and getting beat two or three every week.

Ryan Giggs John Toshack never played friendly games

“They were six frustrating years, we had Gareth Bale with a bad injury and Aaron Ramsey with a broken leg. And it was very difficult.

“I’ve been gone seven years and the side that reached the semi-final at the European Championships, of the starting line-up, nine of those players have made their debut with us as youngsters. And we’ve been gone six, seven years. So that tells you the manager at that particular time, Chris Coleman, who I know very well, I was responsible for him getting the job at Real Sociedad, had a far easier job than what we had seven years earlier.

“This was a group of players, they were boys when we had them and they’re young men now. They picked up experience.

“I remember when I used to go and watch, I hardly watched a Premiership match. Apart from Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, I did not have players in the Premiership. Now all this team have grown and grown and grown and they are all Premiership players now.

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“So, it was a disappointment for Wales and the Wales public that they missed out on the World Cup. I was at that game where they missed out against the Republic of Ireland. It was a big, big disappointment because that Welsh side should have qualified for this coming World Cup.

“But now, over the next 12-18 months, there is another rebuilding job that is going to be have to be done.

“They’ve named Ryan Giggs as manager over a four-year period. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. Ryan has no experience of management at any level. It’ll be interesting to see what happens because this group have probably another year or 18 months in them and there’s a rebuilding job to be done with Wales.”

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