By Paul Jones
Rob Page has won over Wales supporters, gained the public approval of his players, and now received confirmation from the Football Association of Wales he will be in charge of his county at the Euros this summer.
The announcement came on Friday afternoon within minutes of the news that Ryan Giggs had been charged with assaulting two women and controlling or coercive behaviour.
Giggs will appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court next Wednesday.
The ascendancy of Page from interim manager to interim with an extended brief is no surprise since he has proved a more than capable pair of hands – adept at making an awkward situation appear relatively frictionless and, more importantly, capable of gaining the results and performances to make Giggs’ absence relatively stress-free.
Wales have a lower profile without Giggs, but their standing seems unaffected.
The quiet man has established his authority.
Page, who was made an assistant coach to Giggs in August 2019, stepped up to become the caretaker manager in November last year after Giggs’ arrest.
FAW Statment | Datganiad CBDC
— FA WALES (@FAWales) April 23, 2021
His first match was a goalless draw with the United States in a friendly, but he followed that with Nations League wins over the Republic of Ireland and Finland as Wales secured promotion out of League B.
Last month a 3-1 defeat to Belgium was followed by a friendly win over Mexico and a World Cup qualifying victory against the Czech Republic, giving Page four wins from his six games in charge.
In a playing career which saw him turn out for Watford, Sheffield United, Cardiff, Coventry, Huddersfield, and Chesterfield, Page achieved the rare honour of captaining a side and scoring in all four divisions.
Appointed club captain of Watford in the third tier in 1997, he achieved two promotions with the Hornets to enjoy one season in what was then the Premiership. He finished his career in League Two with Chesterfield, retiring in 2011.
Page won 41 caps for Wales over the course of a decade between 1996 and 2005, making his debut against Turkey.
He was named captain for a 2-0 win over Hungary in early 2005, which he later described as the “pinnacle of my international career”.
Page had the opportunity to win more caps, but within 24 hours of being recalled to the squad for the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, Page told manager John Toshack that he wished to end his international career.
After hanging up his boots at the end of the 2010-11 season, Page was offered a route into coaching at Port Vale by his old manager Micky Adams, who had signed him at Coventry in 2005 and made him captain a year later.
He began in the youth set-up but was quickly promoted to first-team coach and then, when Adams opted to take time off following surgery in September 2013, was named interim boss.
A year later he took the job on full-time following Adams’ exit before moving on to Northampton in 2016.
Page was sacked by the Cobblers in 2017, but spent only a couple of months coaching at Nottingham Forest before being handed another management opportunity, this time with Wales Under-21s.
His record over 15 games was five wins, five draws and five defeats, but more importantly, several young players graduated through the ranks to join the senior squad, with Joe Morrell, David Brooks, Daniel James, Joe Rodon and Rabbi Matondo among the players to have worked with Page.
An FAW statement on Friday said: “The Football Association of Wales has noted the decision of The Crown Prosecution Service to proceed with charging Ryan Giggs, the men’s national team manager.
“In light of this decision, the FAW can confirm that Robert Page will assume the role of Cymru men’s national team manager for this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament and will be assisted by Albert Stuivenberg.
“An FAW board meeting will be convened to discuss these developments and its impact on the association and the national team.
“The FAW will not be making any further comment at this current time.”
The CPS said: “We have authorised Greater Manchester Police to charge Ryan Giggs with engaging in behaviour which was controlling or coercive and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
“A charge of assault by beating relating to a second woman has also been authorised. Mr Giggs will appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 28th April.
The CPS made the decision to charge Mr Giggs after reviewing a file of evidence from Greater Manchester Police.
“Criminal proceedings are active and nothing should be published that could jeopardise the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
Greater Manchester Police said Giggs was charged with assault causing actual bodily harm against a woman in her 30s and the common assault of a woman in her 20s.
Both assault charges relate to an incident on November 1 last year, which is understood to have happened at Giggs’ home in Worsley near Salford. The older woman was treated for injuries at the scene.
Giggs, 47, has been released on bail ahead of the court appearance.