Relegated Wales 'underperforming', says Harries

2 months ago 54
Women's Nations League: Wales 1-2 Iceland - highlights
Venue: Swansea.com Stadium Date: Tuesday, 5 December Kick-off: 18:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website & app & live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

Wales must address why they "underperformed" as they were relegated from the Nations League top tier, former striker Gwennan Harries says.

Friday's 2-1 loss at home to Iceland sealed Wales' fate before Tuesday's final group game against Germany in Swansea.

Harries accepts that Wales were always likely to find it difficult against three higher-ranked opponents, but says the manner of their performances have been a cause for "worry".

Here are the thoughts of pundits and commentators expressed to BBC Sport Wales on where Wales find themselves, why and what should happen next.

Former Wales striker Gwennan Harries:

"Really disappointed. I think both of the Iceland games would have been the ones that they targeted. You've got to be realistic. You're not really going to come away with a victory against Germany and Denmark, albeit I was hoping (for Wales) to be a bit more competitive in those games.

"I think they will be really, really disappointed as to how many chances they created, but just the quality of play and even again last night, just so poor in possession, really sloppy under no pressure as well and I think you can see a real lack of confidence there from the whole campaign.

"I think if they just started the campaign better in Iceland when they did dominate, and were unlucky not to come away with a victory, it might have been different, but Friday was poor on a lot of parts, obviously offensively, just the lack of clinicalness, but defensively I think we've got worse as the campaign's gone on.

"It's really important as a manager to be able to manage the squad. There's a real lack of confidence which is evident in the displays, but the body language as well. I was just a little bit disappointed at times.

"You could see the frustration, which I understand, but maybe a lack of togetherness, it seemed at times last night (Friday).

"Going forward we need to just get back to basics and defend properly. We used to be really hard to break down, we were solid and I'm talking about when Gemma Grainger came in. Get back to those performances against France, who were an outstanding team.

"We were really tough to break down, really hard, really organised, disciplined. We're not seeing that anymore, unfortunately.

"I think there's a lack of confidence defensively and add that to the lack of quality in the final third, the desperation in the final third. It's just not a good mix at the minute.

"A couple of years ago we'd be saying: 'Oh we've got to look at the positive, got to be realistic.'

"We haven't got the infrastructure. We haven't got the squad depth of the bigger nations and that's fine, was totally fine. Germany, Denmark, we weren't expected to get results against them.

Wales suffer Cain injury blowWales relegated from Nations League

"But it's the performances and the manner of the performances and I think if we continue down this line, where defensively we're not structured, we're not staying in games and there's a lack of quality and maybe a lack of belief in the squad.

"We were 2-0 down and our left-back is pushing back to defend against one forward. It was three against one instead of bombing on to try and join in the attack.

"That's the worrying sign to me. If that continues then there certainly are question marks because the squad has been together for not just two or three years under Gemma Granger, but five, six years now, the majority of that squad, but I'm not sure if we've maybe peaked.

"Against the likes of Iceland, Switzerland and Portugal, I think we do need to look as to why we are underperforming.

"I'd like to see more of a squad rotation as well. It was crying out for more changes at times and a change of plan as well."

Former Wales striker Helen Ward:

"There's an opportunity to drop into League B, of course I'm not going to suggest that that's what anyone wanted, but an opportunity to drop into that league, potentially get a run of wins on the board, which builds some confidence so when you do get to that play-off, and hopefully they get to a situation where they're still trying to qualify for a Euros, then they've got that momentum with them and that can do so much to a team in football.

"Although it's hugely disappointing, no one wants relegation, you have to take the positives, it is what it is now, you have to build from that and think: 'You know what, this is in our favour, let's get some momentum, let's build some confidence'.

"Let's breed some new players into the team, which we're starting to do now, and who knows where that can take us?"

Former Wales defender Nia Jones:

"It will take time to fully digest what has happened, not just tonight, but across the whole campaign. There have been chances for Wales to definitely have scored more goals, certainly it's the defensive side of things that they'll come under most scrutiny for."

Former Wales midfielder Katie Sherwood:

"I didn't see this (Iceland) game going this way, I really thought we were going to get a result here this evening. One thing you can't question is their fight, to get back into the game, their spirit, their desire. The second half wasn't the same as the first half. We just lacked that quality."

"It's going to be a really tough game to pick themselves back up and go and play against a team like Germany.

"I agree with what Gemma Grainger has said, the performances have got better, it's just how do we consistently compete with these top nations for longer periods of time in the game?"

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