Wales manager Ryan Giggs has admitted that what The Dragons did at Euro 2016 has seen expectations for the national side change over the last few years. The Welsh side, led by then head coach Chris Coleman, produced a historic run into the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Portugal.
The talk going into the semi-finals at the Euro 2016 was all about Wales with them defying the odds to face Portugal just one step away from their first final. The sheer fact that they had beaten Belgium’s golden generation on the way to do that meant that many believed nothing would stand in the way of this team but a loss to eventual champions Portugal changed that. However, Wales still walked out of the tournament as strong favourites amongst the underdogs.
Their failure to make the 2018 World Cup hasn’t hurt their reputation as the Dragons managed to qualify rather comfortably for Euro 2020. But while a global pandemic has postponed the tournament by a year, Wales head coach Ryan Giggs has admitted that what then head coach Chris Coleman did at the 2016 Euros transformed the way the world saw Wales. Giggs further added that the expectations have changed for his side with them amongst the many favourites for the tournament.
“What Cookie did made people sit up and take notice. It also has had an effect on fans in Wales and expectations because expectations have gone up. I’ve experienced that; you’re expected to win every game and blow teams away at home, certainly against the not-so-big countries. It’s about managing that but the perception has definitely changed. What the country has done over the last four or five years probably deserves that status of being feared and being taken seriously,” Giggs told the Guardian.
The Manchester United legend has also been impressed by the transformation his former side has undergone under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and revealed that he’s excited the most about the midfield. The partnership between Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba has been a talking point since the restart and Giggs admitted that the promise they’ve shown as a midfield duo is nice to see as they both complement each other well.
“What Fernandes has shown is the consistency. Every game he looks like he’s going to do something; he’s going to shoot from 30 yards, create something and he is going to test the opposition. Pogba is capable of doing that but has perhaps done it for two games and then been quiet for a game and not quite had that consistency.
“Of course he has got the skill but he now needs to add that. He hasn’t got that excuse any more that perhaps he was looking around and thinking he hasn’t got the players around him. Now he has got a player of equal status and quality to take the burden off his shoulders,” he added.