By Gareth James
Rob Page has defended Wales’ dismal record over the past 12 months by insisting his side are a team in transition.
Page signed a four-year contract in September but has come under increasing pressure after a dreadful run of one win in 11 games since qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
Wales fans’ frustration came to a head in Friday’s shock 4-2 defeat to Armenia, opponents ranked 97th in the world, as hopes of qualifying for next summer’s Euro 2024 finals in Germany were seriously damaged.
“We had a group meeting (on Saturday) and addressed what needed to be said,” Page said ahead of Monday’s crunch qualifier against Turkey in Samsun.
“We’ve put it to bed and full focus is on the challenge here and we’ll all be ready for it.
“What I want is a reaction from the players, and that is in the performance. If they do that the result will take care of itself.
“We’re a team in progression, a team in transition, so we have to remind ourselves where on the journey we are.”
Egregious levels of hungover still but here’s a rough word-vomit of why Friday night was not a disappointing one-off (the last few months have felt like a perpetual slap in the face). Wales have been spoiled but fans deserve higher standards than this.https://t.co/U0oxokc8yX
— Megan Feringa (@megan_feringa) June 18, 2023
Wales supporters let their anger known at the final whistle on Friday as defeat allied to Turkey’s last-gasp 3-2 win in Latvia left them off two points off the Group D leaders.
Page said disappointment was heightened by expectation after Wales’ first World Cup for 64 years in Qatar and the poor run of results were partly down to the quality of opposition they had played.
“I think the reason it was such a low moment was because of expectations we put on ourselves, because of results we’ve had and performances we’ve had,” Page said of Wales’ first European Championship home qualifying defeat for 12 years.
“There is a stat about one win in 11 games, look at the opposition we’ve been playing.
“Look at the standard of teams in the Nations League.
“If we were playing England, Netherlands or Belgium six or seven years ago it might have been more than the close games we lost in the 95th minute.
“We showed our potential in March. We are still a young group so there are going to be inconsistencies.
“There are going to be bumps along the way. Friday was a massive bump, but now we stick together as a group.”
We’re open tomorrow evening for the Wales game v Turkey in the European Qualifiers. 🥅 ⚽️🍻
Turkey 🇹🇷 v Wales 🏴 19:45 KO pic.twitter.com/3ytZriODIR
— Ammanford CC (@AmmanfordCC) June 18, 2023
Skipper Aaron Ramsey insists Wales can turn their fortunes around with the Turkey clash representing the halfway point of the qualifying campaign.
“I believe in this team, I am confident,” said Ramsey.
“We have a good opportunity to get back on track and hopefully concentrate on performance and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
“We are in a decent position. If we can take full advantage of tomorrow night we will be back in this group.”
Vice-captain Ben Davies has not travelled to Samsun as the Tottenham defender has stayed at home for the birth of his first child.
Kieffer Moore also misses out after being sent off in the closing stages against Armenia.
We shift focus to tomorrows home matches vs Latvia.
Latvia currently sit bottom with 0 points after 2 matches including a 1-0 loss to Wales and 3-2 loss v Turkey.
With Wales and Turkey playing their 4th match, this is a crucial third for Armenia to put massive pressure. pic.twitter.com/ZdOuPgH08C
— 🇦🇲⚽Football Kentron (@FootballKentron) June 18, 2023