Robert Page: Wales interim boss deserves long-term role – Williams

Ashley Williams has an effort on goal (not his goal) against Belgium at Euro 2016.
Ashley Williams won 86 Wales caps and captained the side to the semi-finals of Euro 2016

Former Wales captain Ashley Williams says interim Wales manager Rob Page deserves the job on a long-term basis.

Ryan Giggs, who stepped away from the Wales manager role in November 2020 facing charges he denies of using controlling behaviour and assaulting his ex-girlfriend, resigned on Monday.

Williams has warned Wales will lose Page to a club side if they do not move swiftly to appoint him permanently.

“I think Rob has done an excellent job,” Williams told BBC Sport Wales.

“He should be rewarded. He definitely deserves a contract, no matter what happens at the World Cup. He is the man who spearheaded it and got us there.

“It shouldn’t depend on how we do at the World Cup. He’s done well for a long time.”

Page has been Wales’ interim boss since Giggs’ arrest and subsequent charges, with the former Northampton and Port Vale boss leading Wales to a first World Cup appearance in 64 years.

Giggs has pleaded not guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour against his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville between August 2017 and November 2020.

He has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Ms Greville causing her actual bodily harm, and common assault of her younger sister, Emma Greville, at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester, on 1 November 2020.

The trial was originally scheduled to take place last January but was postponed until 8 August due to a lack of court space. The trial is set to last a minimum of five days.

The former Manchester United winger said in a statement of resignation that he “did not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case”.

Former Wales captain Page, 47, Giggs’ assistant since August 2019, took charge of matches from November 2020, leading Wales to top spot in their Nations League group.

He continued to deputise for Giggs – who was appointed by Wales in January 2018 – in March 2021 as Wales kicked off their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

That would culminate in a famous play-off final win over Ukraine in June 2022, booking a place at Qatar for Wales’ first appearance at a World Cup finals in 64 years.

Wales will play England, the United States and Iran in Group B, with their opening game against the USA on 21 November, with Page contracted until after the tournament.

Under Page’s guidance, Wales also reached the last 16 of the Euro 2020 finals, which were delayed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Williams feels Page’s record more than justifies a full time deal.

“You have a different rapport as an assistant or a coach, you are the good cop, but he’s handled the transition of moving into the hot-seat really well, the players really like him,” he said.

“He has a good relationship with all the players.

“He’s spoken well when there have been shaky games in qualifying, but I think with the benefit of hindsight, all the big decisions, he made correctly.”

Ashley Williams holds off Sergio Ramos in friendly match versus Spain
Ashley Williams’ last Wales cap came in June 2019. He retired in 2021 after playing for Stockport, Swansea, Everton, Stoke and Bristol City.

Williams added: “It’s nice for the players when there is certainty. I remember when Chris Coleman left, everyone was gutted, you don’t want that to happen again.”

Williams says he would be concerned that if Page is not offered a new deal, he could be tempted to make a move back into club management, with clubs impressed by his record with Wales.

“Because of the good job he’s done, I am sure people are looking at him and thinking, ‘let’s get him in the building’ so if the FAW value him and the good job he’s done, why not give him that contract?” he added.

“I think it’s important to show intent to the players and fans that that’s how they feel.

“I wouldn’t leave it up in the air… because I am sure clubs up and down the country are looking at him.”

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