Why Ryan Giggs must seize the moment at Wales
After months of deliberations, the Football Association of Wales has appointed ex-Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs as their new manager.
Craig Bellamy, Osian Roberts and Mark Bowen were all the in the frame, but after a weekend of interviews, Giggs was anointed. Bellamy, currently overseeing the academy development at Cardiff City, was said to have run Giggs very close following an impassioned and impressive interview.
His announcement has been greeted with a mix of vitriol on social media, apathy elsewhere and a quiet excitement. Those glad to see Giggs take up the mantle have been drowned out by the vociferous and indignant outcries against the Welshman.
Regardless of the public's opinion, Giggs has a crucial few years ahead of him. If he can succeed, sustain success and even take Wales to new levels, he will have created a legacy.
For this is a vital point in Welsh footballing history. Giggs needs to seize the moment and exploit his current golden crop. Failure to do so might condemn Welsh football to the occasional under-dog story, rather than an international competitor.
Having been knocked out of qualifying for the World Cup in the most heart-breaking circumstances, Chris Coleman failed to reach an agreement with the FAW and decided to leave his post, reluctantly it must be said.
The cold truth is that Wales should have qualified from their group. Though Serbia represented tough opposition - as did Austria and the Republic of Ireland - the Dragons' failure to secure a playoff spot was an underwhelming reflection of the quality they possess.
The criticism Coleman face was diluted by his past success. His inability to navigate his side's way through the group mitigated by his inspiring management during Euro 2016, where his team galvanised a nation and brought grown men to tears.
Granted, Wales were unlucky. Had Joe Allen not been concussed - the product of the physical nature of their Irish competitors - we probably would not be talking about Giggs' arrival. Yet there is still a feeling that Wales should've done better with the talent they had.
It is now up to Giggs to capitalise on the technical ability his squad boasts.
Wales have the potential to cement themselves as a tournament regular. In Ben Woodburn, Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks, Giggs has three precocious talents who can develop into world beaters. Having known what it is like to have the weight of expectation on your shoulders at such a young age, Giggs will surely pass on invaluable advice.
If he can embed these youngsters into his side, allow them to complement the likes of Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, then he will have a team with an attractive mix of maturity and youthful fearlessness.
Two years under Louis van Gaal is all he has to show for managerial experience. In a strange way, this might make him more likely to succeed. Giggs has a point to prove. He has been rejected by several clubs before - finally, Wales have given him a chance and one gets the feeling Giggs is not a man to pass up an opportunity. =
One of the most talented squads Wales has ever possessed. The experience of major tournament success. Promising youngsters ready to make the step up. This is a defining moment in Welsh history. Over to you, Mr. Giggs.