Slovakia Wales

Slovakia Wales. Pic: Getty Images

Downbeat Rob Page Admits His Fate Is In Hands Of Others After Latest Wales Blow

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By Gareth James

Rob Page appears to be bracing himself for bad news after another blow to his reputation and job security as Wales manager.

The under-fire boss apologised to fans after a 4-0 thrashing to Slovakia and said it is “up to the powers that be” to decide if he stays in the job.

Page saw Wales get dismantled in a Trnava friendly after their dismal 0-0 draw with Gibraltar, the world’s 203rd-ranked team, in Portugal on Thursday.

The pressure has steadily grown on Page after Wales’ flat performance at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when they finished bottom of their group and their failure to qualify for this summer’s European Championship.

Page has over two years left on the contract he signed in September 2022, but he was once again booed by supporters after going over to them after the final whistle while others wasted no time on social media calling for him to quit.

“I get it, I’m a supporter myself,” Page told S4C after the joint-heaviest defeat of his tenure, which began in November 2020.

“I went over to the supporters and clapped them with the lads. When the lads went, I made a point of saying to them ‘it’s on me and I’ll take it’.

“I apologised to the supporters at the end. Their support tonight was immense and I completely understand their frustration.

“If the powers that be decide I’m not the one to lead them forward then that’s their decision.

“But I’m fully focused on what the two games were useful for.

“We see that there are some young players that will be an addition to the squad come September.”

Page was denied the presence of a raft of senior players for Wales’ two June friendlies.

Wales were without the entire defence that had lined up in the Euro 2024 play-off final defeat to Poland on penalties in March.

Ben Davies, Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Neco Williams were all absent, as were the creative attacking talents of Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks and Harry Wilson.

“We didn’t have any of the back five and we’ve tried to give games, minutes and caps to some of the younger players,” said Page.

“It was an opportunity for us to look to the future and Lewis Koumas is an absolute positive.

“Without these two games we wouldn’t have seen his capabilities. He will be the next JJ (Jordan James), that’s the positive coming out of the camp.

“Young Fin Stevens has given a good account of himself. To throw him in the deep end in a game like this he deserves credit for that mature performance.

“The two games served as a purpose for us to expose some of these players and now we know come September (in the Nations League) what young players we’ve got to step up.”

Euros-bound Slovakia got the perfect send-off for Germany after Juraj Kucka opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with the help of a goalkeeping error from Danny Ward.

Robert Bozenik’s near-post finish and an Ethan Ampadu own goal made it three by the hour mark, and Laszlo Benes’ spectacular last-gasp completed the rout.

Page said: “They haven’t had to work too hard for the goals. We’ve gifted them goals.

“When you’re playing top-level international football you get found out if you’re not at it.

“I’m not making excuses, but Slovakia have come off a camp and it’s been a month since our lads played football.

“We had two training sessions before we played our first game. We’ve not had lot of time together, I’m not making excuses that’s a fact.”

“I thought first half we did really well, I thought we played some good football, we were brave on the ball. It was a formation I wanted to try in both games.

“We used the two friendlies as an opportunity to look at a different formation, have a look at some new personnel.

“So from that point of view it’s been a worthwhile exercise to see that Lewis Koumas is ready for the step up, Jay Da Silva has given an unbelievable account of himself, Fin [Stevens] showed a mature performance and was excellent. It’s a hard one to take.

“The idea behind the two games was to get these players in the environment, in with the [established] players to see if they are ready for the step up, so it has been beneficial from that point of view.

“It’s been really disappointing from a results point of view but I can’t lose focus on what the camp was about.

“We’ve gifted Slovakia four goals really. I apologised to the supporters, I completely understand their frustration, I went up to them at the end and said, “It’s on me”.

“I’ve got to stay focused on the job I’ve got – if the powers-that-be decide otherwise then that’s their decision.

“It’s a hard camp to take but we’ve got to look at the positives.”

Slovakia got the perfect Euro 2004 send-off as Juraj Kucka and Robert Bozenik struck either side of the break, with Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward at fault for the opener on the stroke of half-time.

Ethan Ampadu, leading Wales for the first time, unfortunately turned the ball into his own net on the hour and Laszlo Benes’ superb late strike completed the rout.

The pressure has cranked up on Page since Wales missed out on this summer’s European Championship, and two June friendlies have proved nothing short of a disaster for him.

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