Rob Page determined to see out Wales contract with Euro qualification in doubt

By Sports Desk September 10, 2023

Under-fire Wales boss Rob Page says he is determined to see out the three remaining years of his contract.

Page signed a four-year deal exactly 12 months ago as Wales prepared to make their first appearance at a World Cup for 64 years.

But their fortunes have plummeted since and Page faces a potentially make-or-break Euro 2024 qualifier in Latvia on Monday.

Wales must beat bottom side Latvia – who are yet to register a point in Group D – to keep alive hopes of a top-two place and automatic qualification for next summer’s finals in Germany.

Asked at his pre-match press conference whether he was under pressure from the Football Association of Wales executive to qualify, Page said: “I can’t let that affect me. I can’t think about that.

“I’ve got a job to do. I want to qualify for me, as a Welsh supporter myself.

“As the manager, I want to be in this job for the rest of my contract. I really enjoy working with this group of players.”

Pressed further on whether he was fighting for his job, Page replied: “We are in an industry where you need to win games of football.

“We are in a period of transition as well. I can’t influence what the board or people above do.

“All I can worry about is winning games of football and giving it my best shot.

“If I do that and it doesn’t work out for me, then at least I can walk away with my head held high.”

Wales warmed up for their trip to Latvia with a goalless draw against South Korea on Thursday.

Page said he saw plenty of positive signs during that Cardiff clash and Wales were further boosted by Friday’s set of results in their qualifying section.

Group favourites Croatia left Latvia dispirited with a 5-0 thrashing, while Turkey and Armenia drew 1-1.

Wales would draw level on points with Armenia if they win in Riga and Croatia do likewise in Yerevan – and move within three points of Turkey with a game in hand.

“(Turkey and Armenia drawing) was probably the best result for us,” Page said.

“It would be nice for Croatia to get another win for them to run away with it and have us fighting it out for second spot.

“We want to win the game. It’s all about the points for us. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1-0.

“They are off the back of a tough game but they have been in games right up until the 90th minute.

“We can’t wait for it off the back of a positive performance against Korea. I didn’t want the game because I didn’t want to risk injuries and we’ve picked up an injury from that game as Wes (Burns) came on and he tweaked his hamstring.

“There is a generation of supporters who have seen Wales qualify for major tournaments. Losing players makes the job harder, but expectations say that we should be qualifying.

“It’s not as easy as that. We will continue to try and qualify for every tournament.”

Related items

  • CF Montreal v D.C. United: Courtois pleased to 'stop the bleeding' CF Montreal v D.C. United: Courtois pleased to 'stop the bleeding'

    Laurent Courtois was pleased to see CF Montreal "stop the bleeding" with Saturday's goalless draw against Nashville SC, but he knows more is needed when they host D.C. United on Wednesday. 

    Montreal are winless in their last nine matches across all competitions (four draws, five losses) and sit 13th of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference.

    They did at least snap a four-game losing streak with that stalemate, and Courtois wants them to use that result as a platform.

    "I heard a couple of guys talking about 'stopping the bleeding' and I hate it, but it's the reality of the moment," said Courtois.

    "We're happy in the sense that we were able to get back to our standards of commitment and competitiveness, but we know that we need more at home, so we have to get back to work."

    D.C. were also held to a draw last time out as their own winless run stretched to three matches, being pegged back in a 1-1 home tie with the Chicago Fire.

    Coach Troy Lesesne was less than pleased with his team's performance in that match, saying: "In the end, we were fortunate to get a point out of that, and that's not good enough.

    "Maybe there wasn't enough service. I think it was to do with how we went out. 

    "In the first half you could see our identity by the way we went out, but you could not see that in the second half." 

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    CF Montreal – Josef Martinez

    Martinez has scored eight regular-season goals against D.C. United, equalling the most he has scored against any opponent in his MLS career (also eight versus the New England Revolution and Orlando City).

    D.C. United – Christian Benteke

    D.C. have won 347 aerial duels this season, over 100 more than any other MLS team and almost three times as many as Montreal. 

    Montreal have won 122 aerial duels this year, the second-fewest in MLS and 42 fewer than Benteke alone (164).

    MATCH PREDICTION – CF MONTREAL WIN

    D.C. have won two straight matches against Montreal in all competitions, but the only three-game winning streak achieved by either team against the other came in 2016-17 (three victories for Montreal).

    Montreal's nine-match winless run is their joint-longest across all competitions since they joined MLS in 2012 (also nine in 2013-14).

    However, D.C. have failed to win any of their last three matches (one draw, two losses) and have only won one of their last 13 on the road (seven draws, five defeats).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    CF Montreal – 46.9%

    D.C. United – 25.7%

    Draw – 27.4% 

  • Terzic: Dortmund ready to snap Madrid's perfect Champions League final run Terzic: Dortmund ready to snap Madrid's perfect Champions League final run

    Edin Terzic believes Borussia Dortmund can break Real Madrid's winning run in Champions League finals when they meet in the showcase at Wembley on Saturday.

    Madrid have won all eight finals they have played in since the Champions League replaced the European Cup in 1992, while they have also won five Champions League titles in the past 10 seasons for a total of 14 European crowns.

    Terzic said records were there to be broken, but Dortmund would need to perform at the highest level.

    "We have to have the belief that we can achieve big things," Terzic told a press conference. "We have to invest everything to bring the trophy back to Dortmund. It has been a long time."

    Dortmund won the competition in 1997 and reached the final again in 2013, though they lost to Bayern Munich in an all-German showdown.

    "The most important thing is if you want to win the Champions League you have to beat the champions," Terzic said. "We now face the absolute champions.

    "They have had this experience 14 times, won it five times in the past 10 years. But our aim is always to break it down to one game.

    "Eight Champions League finals and they never lost. But what matters is not what happened in the previous eight. What matters is only the next one. It is time to break that run."

    Dortmund finished fifth in the Bundesliga this season, narrowly securing their Champions League spot for next season. In 2023, they had been title contenders, narrowly missing out on the league trophy on the final matchday.

    Terzic said that bitter experience a year ago, however, contributed to their success this season.

    "I had said it at the time that I would have done without this chapter of my life, but this day was from that point part of our road to success," he said.

    "Now we travel to London with the same fans who, a year ago, after that bitter match [on the final Bundesliga matchday], kept supporting us and singing for hours. It is time to give something back, and we will have the chance to hopefully celebrate together."

  • Owen gives Bellingham 'massive chance' of Ballon d'Or success Owen gives Bellingham 'massive chance' of Ballon d'Or success

    Michael Owen believes Jude Bellingham has a "massive chance" of winning the Ballon d'Or after a stand-out debut season at Real Madrid.

    Los Blancos won their 36th LaLiga title, losing just one of their league games while finishing 10 points clear of second-place Barcelona.

    Bellingham ended the league campaign as Madrid’s top-scorer, netting 19 LaLiga goals and added another four in the Champions League to help them on their way to the final.

    The attacking-midfielder has also created more chances under pressure (19) than any other midfielder in the Champions League, with four of those resulting in an assist for a Madrid teammate.

    Bellingham is due to join up with England for Euro 2024 following the Champions League final as the Three Lions aim to win their first major trophy since 1966.

    Bellingham is among the favourites to get his hands on the Ballon d'Or and would be the first Englishman to win it since Owen himself in 2001.

    "The Ballon d'Or comes to players who have an exceptional season, not only personally, but who have had a season where they have won something or multiple titles," Owen told TNT Sports.

    "If Jude Bellingham goes and wins LaLiga, which he already has done, as well as the Champions League all while being one of the stars of the show in that team, then he has got to be in the conversation.

    "A lot will depend on Euro 2024 with England. If he has a good tournament and England go far, then you could rightly say that he has a massive chance."

    Bellingham will face former club Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Saturday as Madrid aim to lift a record-extending 15th title in the European Cup.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.