Pressure on Wales boss Ryan Giggs ahead of must win Azerbaijan clashby Jack Kitson / 06 September 2019, 10:36Tweet
Ryan Giggs has lost 53.8% of his matches since taking charge of Wales at the start of last year.
At the time of his appointment Giggs only had a four-game stint as caretaker manager of Man Utd on his CV, and while he enjoyed a legendary status as a player, the decision to hand the managerial novice the national team job had divided many fans.
Giggs’ Wales opened up the post-Chris Coleman era in style with a thumping 6-0 win over China, but he’s since only registered wins over three different nations: Republic of Ireland (twice), Trinidad and Tobago and Slovakia. Meanwhile, he’s suffered defeats to the likes of Hungary and Albania.
March’s victory over Slovakia gave Giggs’ second seeds a successful start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, however come June the smiles had been wiped from the Welsh who came away from Croatia and Hungary empty-handed, results which left the Dragons second-bottom in Group E.
September’s international break is now in full flow and the pressure is on Giggs to make ground on the three countries above Wales, with surprise leaders Hungary already six points better off at the summit.
"With two defeats, you're up against it,” said Giggs in his press conference for tonight’s crunch clash at home to Azerbaijan.
“But it's still early in the group, and there's points to play for. If we're going to qualify we need to win our home games."
Wales have carved out 1-0 wins in their last two matches on home spoil but a failure to beat Azerbaijan - who are rock-bottom and pointless - could prove to be catastrophic in their bid to secure an automatic qualification spot to a tournament they came fourth in back in 2016.
Captain Ashley Williams and Juventus new boy Aaron Ramsey are both absent but Wales head into the qualifier as the red-hot 1/4 favourites for the win.
With the in-form duo of Gareth Bale and Daniel James in their ranks they will be expected to bag all three points against a side ranked 109th in the world who have lost four of their last five games.
Depending on a variety of results, Wales could end September’s international break nine points adrift of the automatic qualification spots, but at the same time a win would propel Giggs’ men back in the mix ahead of back-to-back duels with Slovakia and Croatia next month.