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Maybe Just Maybe - Nathan Fuller
I think it would do no harm for the football fans of Wales to take a trip to the same stadium for a Welsh Rugby match.

Where crowds mingle, alcohol is freely served in the ground and the atmosphere spills in from the surrounding streets into the arena and is not broken down into a few people cheering here a few singing there, it is all around you.

I've also had enough of people saying Mark Hughes got it so wrong. And this mentality is drummed into these people because they generally watch Premier League football week in week out.

Wales have done remarkably well in this campaign. Mark Hughes has done more for the reputation of Welsh football than any single other person in the past 20 years.

When a player, he wore his heart on his sleeve and was feared worldwide, as a manager he is trying to instill that into his current crop of players.

Remember half the team last night are not even premier league, this really was a cup tie. Every bit as nail biting and fantasy inspiring as the big FA cup ties where the minnows push the Premier league clubs to the brink.

It is so easy to say Sparky should of played two up front, I am sure it was done as a damage limitation exercise, try to keep them out and sneak one past them.

We all wake up today after that long trek home from the ground thinking we failed again. In fact I think to an extent his tactics worked had they not got that goal we had as good as chances as we could of dreamt off, but I am not one to stand around with a list of "what ifs?" in my head.

The truth is we are not quite at that level yet, the Russians , lets admit it, were so much better off the ball than us, always making a man available. Their one touch football at times was stunning but when they had to dig in and hook a ball away at last gasp they also excelled.

It was just such a shame to see their pathetic antics ruin what otherwise we as fans would of been applauding. If Uefa can throw bans willy nilly at Giggs then they should throw just as much weight around at the acting and charades played by the Russians.

I have not yet had a chance to watch a tape of the game but will be keen to see what a cpl of the referees decisions stemmed from, and indeed have to admit I thought we gave away a penalty at one stage but then cried out for two of our own in the space of 20 seconds at the other end.

But these highs and lows are what keep us enthralled, UEFA and FIFA in my opinion have done so much to kill the game in the last cpl of years, to the point where it is almost completely a non-contact sport now, that players like John Hartson and Robbie Savage are not allowed to play. Defenders fear leaning in, midfielders running 30 yards and sliding in to clatter the ball (and often player) are no longer seen and any kind of a challenge in the vicinity of the keeper is punished without explanation.

So I'll finish with this.

Lets not bite when the Russians and English post messages on the site, in fact ignore them and they'll stop posting.
Lets concentrate on our achievements and group together behind "Our Mark", he has done nothing but give to Welsh Football and the fact he has said he'd like to stay already has my heart and hopes raised ten fold in comparison with last night.

There's a little competition coming up by the name of the world cup and we can take stock now and look forward with confidence to that. Another cpl of years working this team together and maybe they will be ready. Maybe.

Nathan Fuller 20 Nov 2003


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