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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    The last version of young guns for the present season will provide some continuation to the one penned last week and then attempt to project forward, suggesting that followers of Welsh football fortunes may possibly have enjoyable times in the future.

    Firstly, the reflection back will focus on positives that occurred. With the absence of need to compete in play-off games came an opportunity to fill the vacant dates with a couple of friendly fixtures. This allowed for an easy decision, whereby a transitioning of the squad with an eye toward the future could be instigated. Although very much at the start of their careers and consequently relatively inexperienced, introducing young guns to the senior international arena gave a glimpse of what may lay ahead as they showed a capacity to be productive members of the team when partaking in those games. Unable to reach an agreement on the process moving forward, Chris Colemanís tenure as the Welsh manager came to an end after those games.
    An anticipation that had been on the minds of many as a possibility for several years came to fruition with the appointment of Ryan Giggs as the successor. His immediate remit was to get organized for something that could be viewed as a slight consolation for missing out on the World Cup finals, the Wales team had accepted an invitation to participate in the China Cup. A competition involving four teams was close to an ideal starting situation for the new era of Welsh football, the detraction being the need for long distance travel during preparation. As can often happen for international matches, some of the candidates for likely selection were not available, nevertheless a strong squad capable of successful outcomes was assembled. It proved to be a worthwhile venture with a semi-final victory providing the team an appearance in the final against a perennially successful Uruguay side. A narrow margin of defeat against a side that is always a tough proposition to defeat and often has sufficient skillful players that find a means of securing victory prevented a return journey as tournament champions.
    The 4 match sequence provided for a period of adjustment in Welsh football as players and fans gained a perspective on how the future may unfold and what may be a different approach as a result of the management change. With much that is good already in place, it is only relatively small but, nevertheless, important changes that seem to be required. One of the highest priorities, to rebuild the strength of the squad was achieved by the introduction of quite a few debutants as the games went along. All were given this opportunity based on a deserved recognition of how they performed in club football and added to their experience with an exposure to international football.
    What can be ascertained from this? I believe that there is sufficient talent in the various Wales football teams for one to say that future successes for the Wales senior team is not an unreasonable expectation. Of course, any projection ahead cannot deal with certainty, rather it is an assessment of what may potentially happen based on the facts of the present. The young guns who seem to be on the verge of regular inclusion in the team possess the qualities not only to help it in various positions now but become big influences in the seasons ahead. They do have a comfort of also being guided by vastly experienced team mates, helping them both settle in the near term and learn the sort of leadership they will eventually need to exhibit. It is admittedly easy to get overexcited about possibilities when looking ahead. Development, from a young talented prospect to an eventual player who can operate effectively at international level is an arduous task. I think it is fair to say that even though it has been a brief test of their capability, there are signs that some of these new players can be productive contributors to the Wales senior team. It will take some amount of time to gain the necessary experience before it can be substantiated if they become influential in games. It is however what will be needed for a Wales team to maintain the standards that it has recently reached.

    Moving the focus of attention to a short discussion of the intermediate national teams. What can be deduced from a review of their season? Measured in terms of results, it did not seem to be a productive one for these teams, to be overcritical of these facts is unwise. The main emphasis of these teams is to provide future candidates for the senior side and in that respect, the system can be regarded a successful entity. Many players are promoted into the teams above where their birthdate indicates for them to perform. This somewhat detracts from the strength of the various teams but is justified by the ability of the players to be competent in their task as well as enhancing their experience against tougher opposition. This helps better prepare them for consideration for the senior team if progress is maintained. It is success for the senior team that provides funds for the whole of Welsh football and so it is better for all when the plan works well.

    As already mentioned, numerous young guns and former young guns have been added to the list of viable senior team candidates in recent times. Other young guns are catching the eye as they seem to be progressing at better than average expectations within their age groups. Whether such accomplishments eventually translate into an achievement of first team football remains a quantity that cannot be gauged at present. All that can be said is that a promising resume is being developed. It will be a triumph of overcoming many obstacles before it can become a reality. There will be a constant need of improvement and adjustment to surmount these hurdles needing to be negotiated along the way. It not only needs an extraordinary effort in physical terms but also a mental one, the correct support of both professional and personal associates often a critical requirement. As in any sport, to a large degree life in general, there are only so many spots available at the top of a profession, they are normally filled by those most competent at mastering the challenges posed along the path to get there.

    Returning to being specific about Welsh football, this concluding paragraph opines it to be in a healthy state. Furthermore, is the likelihood that it has a possibility of prospering in the future. The young talent coming through at the moment has the potential to forge a bright path ahead. How can I justify such a statement? Intangibles that will almost certainly arise as we move through the months and years ahead make it impossible to proclaim it as anything other than a speculative comment. I am in general, a person that likes to view the glass as being half full, with a belief that it is going to gain rather than lose quantity. The other part of me views the past, present and future in a statistical manner. The combination of such trains of thought leads me to believe that though the laws of averages confirms that some we envision as precocious talent at this time will stumble along the way, there is a sufficient quantity for a reasonable proportion to succeed, producing enough support to maintain a successful Wales senior side. Just one personís opinion, whether it is correct or not is not necessarily important. What it does provide is a few minutes of casual reading content and a possible deliberation of the validity of the facts and assumptions presented.
    With all that said, comes time for me to close by wishing all a pleasantly enjoyable few weeks as we take a respite for that period. I thank Neil for providing a platform to present my weekly articles and hope there has been some amount of enjoyment provided in the consequence of having read them. All being well, I intend to resume what is my hobby, or probably more correctly stated, my passion again next season. My best guess is that the first one will be penned around mid-July time when preseason preparations are well underway and the excitement of awaiting the start of a new season of football encounters is rapidly building. Until then, ďcofion cynes i bawbĒ.

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    Posted: Wednesday 9th May 2018
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