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I FEEL SORRY FOR MY MEN.

Byline: PAUL ABBANDONATO

RYAN GIGGS's sheer frustration and despair at 10 years of failure with Wales led to the red card shame which will see him ruled out of competitive international action for over a year.

Giggs' football mentor Eric Harrison put his finger on the problem which boiled over when Giggs was sent off for the first time in his glittering career against Norway.

Harrison, the Manchester United star-maker, says he has never seen Giggs look so down in the many years he has known him as he did in Oslo on Wednesday night.

And Harrison says that also goes for Wales boss Mark Hughes, who has taken his team's World Cup flop and failure to win in 12 matches personally.

Harrison, Hughes' No2 with Wales and who also groomed Sparky for Old Trafford stardom, reflected upon Wales' woes to say: "I feel so sorry for the pair of them.

"They are so passionate about Wales, so desperate for Wales to do well, yet it is just not quite happening.

"The statistics of 12 games without a win tell a different story, but within the camp we feel we are so close and that is what we find so frustrating.

"Mark knows, Ryan knows, I know and the rest of the Wales squad know that we are doing everything right in terms of preparation - yet those results are just not coming on the pitch.

"I think that spilled over in Ryan's case with what happened against Norway.

"The tackle which led to his second yellow card was just frustration.

"I've known Ryan since he was a very young teenager. He doesn't make bad tackles - he has NEVER been sent off before in any grade of football. I'm not just talking about the professional game here, but the countless youth games I saw Ryan play.

"You have to remember Ryan is a proven winner at club level, and that is why he takes these defeats perhaps more personally than anyone.

"He's not used to losing and doesn't like it. He tries so hard to do well for Wales, has travelled around Europe under Mark, was his captain on Wednesday night, is so keen to do well for Mark.

"What happened hurt him so much. He was really down afterwards and said very little.

"Mark and I have known him for many years and we tried to lift him by talking to him. But it wasn't easy to console Ryan.

"What's more, we are going to be without him for quite a while and it goes without saying that is a massive blow."

Giggs faces a potential three-game suspension following his red-card which would rule him out of Wales' next game against Belarus plus the first two Euro 2004 qualifiers.

That hardly helps Hughes's planning as he tries to address a run which has seen his Wales side slip down the FIFA rankings after failing to win in 12 matches.

The critics have begun to turn on Hughes - not just TV pundits, but also Welsh fans in radio phone-ins.

Harrison said: "The last two results, the draw with Armenia and the defeat in Norway, have hurt Mark very much.

"Everybody was totally devastated on Wednesday night, but Mark was clearly hit more than anyone.

"As with Ryan, I tried to lift him with words.

"I have never seen anything quite like this in football - and I'm 63 and have been in the game since I was 16!

"In terms of preparation, we are 100 per cent right. It is as good as anything I have seen in my years in football, including my time with Manchester United.

"Normally, your guideline for a successful team is how you train. Do it right, is the saying, and the results will come on the Saturday.

"Well we are doing everything right - yet, for whatever reason, the results are not coming.

"Somehow what we are doing in training is not being transposed onto the pitch. And neither Mark, myself nor Ryan can quite understand why, which is where the frustration creeps in.

"We accept results are everything in football - and we're not achieving them under Mark at the moment.

"But ask the people within the camp what they think of Mark and they remain 100 per cent loyal to him.

"I'm not talking about the staff here, because even if we felt Mark was wrong, publicly we would insist he was right.

"I'm talking about the players. They don't need to have that loyalty for Mark - but they have it."

Asked if Hughes would quit, Harrison maintained: "No way. He's a very determined man and he will want to see the job through.

"As for the FAW, well they either trust us or they don't.

"It's as simple as that."

CAPTION(S):

RED CARD: Ryan Giggs (centre) in action for Wales against Norway. The Man Utd star was later sent off DEJECTED: Mark Hughes leaves the field knowing Wales' World Cup dreams are over
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 9, 2001
Words:829
Previous Article:HUGHES: THE INQUEST; Sparky's FAW bosses to thrash out World Cup flop.
Next Article:THE WALES RECORD UNDER HUGHES . . . & THE RECORD OF THE UNDER-21s.

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