Dream to nightmare – how Rob Page’s Wales reign unravelled


There was no such consolation six months later when Wales’ bid to qualify for Euro 2024 came off the rails.

They had actually started promisingly, scoring an injury-time equaliser to draw in Croatia before beating Latvia at home.

But then came the nadir of Page’s reign, a shambolic 4-2 home defeat by an Armenia side 71 places below Wales in the world rankings.

Fans and pundits reacted angrily, particularly after Page described the result as a “slap” his team might have needed.

Scrutiny intensified last October when Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said the manager needed to keep winning games to stay in his job, comments which vice-captain Ben Davies later described as “unhelpful”.

A subsequent unbeaten run of eight games – featuring an impressive 2-1 win over Croatia – took some of the heat off Page.

But after failing to qualify for Euro 2024 after a play-off final defeat by Poland in March, doubts remained, even if FAW president Steve Williams offered immediate and public support.

Fans have tended to voice their frustrations about Page online or away from stadiums, where they have instead channelled their energies towards supporting the team.

And although they still showed their appreciation to Wales’ players in Portugal and Slovakia, supporters made their feelings known about the manager with chants of “we want Page out” and, sarcastically, “in transition” – mocking Page’s repeated appeals for patience in this post-Gareth Bale era.

It would be unusual for any association to sack a manager based on friendlies, but these matches were not isolated incidents.

With Mooney and other influential figures at both games, such pitiful results and performances – and, perhaps equally significantly, the fans’ reaction – can only have weakened Page’s position.

The FAW’s decision-makers are not giving much away for now, but Page was utterly despondent in Slovakia on Sunday, seemingly resigned to the fact that his days are numbered.

“They [fans] want me out,” he said. “I completely understand. I’ve got to stay true to myself and focused on the job in hand.

“Everything else is out of my control.”

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