Speed shrugs off experience concern

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New Wales boss Gary Speed claims he is not concerned by any questions that might be raised about his managerial inexperience.

Speed's appointment as successor to John Toshack has surprised many, given he had only been in charge at Sheffield United since August and did not feature on any Football Association of Wales shortlist. But the 41-year-old is relishing a chance to steer Wales out of the international doldrums, starting with a Carling Nations Cup clash against the Republic of Ireland in February.

"It's always going to be thrown at me," said Speed, acknowledging his fledgling managerial career. "But I would like to thank Sheffield United for the opportunity, both as a coach under Kevin Blackwell, and as a manager. It's amazing how quickly you learn in this game."

He added: "I learnt a lot as a coach and it prepared me for management. In the four months I've been at Sheffield United, I've learnt a lot about managing a football team."

Speed, who won 85 caps during a 14-year Wales international career, wants his players to make an impression from the outset of his reign.

Next on the agenda - following February's clash with the Republic - is a Millennium Stadium appointment with Euro 2012 qualifying rivals England

"We want to consistently compete on an international basis," he added. "Results in the (Euro 2012) qualifying group so far haven't been as good as we would have wanted, but in a way that gives us a good chance to start again and wipe the slate clean.

"We haven't had the best start to the group, and all the pressure will be on them (England), as such. It's a no-lose situation and it is something which could really kick-start us.

"It's up to me to impress on the players how much enjoyment they can get out of playing for Wales. When you are playing well for Wales, and the team is playing well, there is no greater feeling. What we haven't done over the last four or five years is beat anyone of stature, beat anyone who we weren't supposed to.

"In this qualifying campaign, can we get into fourth spot, then third spot? It's targets all the way. And if we win the next five games, you never know what might happen."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Gary Speed
Sheffield United
John Toshack

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