Chris Mepham says Wales players remain ‘100 per cent' behind manager Rob Page
Chris Mepham insists the Wales squad are “100 per cent” behind embattled manager Rob Page.
Wales’ terrible run of results has piled the pressure on Page just nine months after he signed a four-year contract as national team manager.
Page has taken Wales to two major tournaments – the delayed Euro 2020 finals and the 2022 World Cup – but a run of one win in 12 games has left serious question marks over whether he is the man to lead the country in the post Gareth Bale-era.
Many Wales fans on social media have made it clear they want managerial change now, but Bournemouth defender Mepham says Page has the full backing of the squad.
Asked if the players were fully behind Page after Monday’s 2-0 European Championship qualifying defeat in Turkey, Mepham replied: “100 per cent. He’s someone I really admire.
“He brought me into the Wales set-up in the first place and I’ll make sure I give everything I can for him.
“On the flip side, it is a results business, but we’ve also played a lot of tough teams – Belgium twice and Netherlands twice in this run – and we’re mixing it with the very best.
“We know we need to do better and we’re definitely be looking at ways to do that. We believe we can turn it around.”
Successive defeats to Armenia and Turkey have left Wales’ hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2024 hanging by a thread.
Wales now trail Group D leaders Turkey by five points at the halfway stage of their campaign, while Armenia and group favourites Croatia are also above them with games in hand.
Mepham said: “I think it’s a free hit for us now. We’re five points behind Turkey and the onus on us now is to win games.
“In a weird way, the pressure is off a little bit because there is that gap.
“We’ve got to make sure in the next camp that we go full guns blazing and get a result to close that gap.”
Wales return to Euro 2024 qualifying action in Latvia on September 11 before hosting Croatia the following month.
They finishing with a November double-header away to Armenia and at home to Turkey.
Even if Wales do not finish in the top two, there is a strong chance they will contest the play-offs in the hope of qualifying for the finals in Germany next summer.
Page said Wales must improve their discipline after red cards for Kieffer Moore and Joe Morrell saw them reduced to 10 men against Armenia and Turkey.
But Mepham insists there is no overall disciplinary issue, saying: “The gaffer drives getting stuck in, putting your body on the line and getting into tackles.
“But we’re experienced professional footballers and we know what’s worth going into and what’s not.
“I think Kieffer’s red card the other day was harsh, but in big moments you can’t put the team at risk by losing a man.
“Certainly having 11 men makes the game a lot easier.”