Wales were comprehensively beaten 3-0 six days before their opening game against Slovakia at Euro 2016 and Coleman acknowledged that the performance was well below what he has come to expect from his players.
Emil Forsberg, Mikael Lustig and John Guidetti got the goals for Sweden to leave Wales with only one victory from their past seven matches. Coleman was clearly disappointed, yet he was also conscious of the need to temper any criticism of his players with the tournament so close.
“We get a bit of success, a bit of expectation, sometimes a little bit of complacency and that can give you a little slap in the face. Maybe that’s what’s happened to us, certainly today,” the Wales manager said. “We go into this round of three games where, actually, we are the underdogs. It doesn’t mean we can’t produce something special, because we’re capable of it.”
Coleman felt that his players were “naive” against Sweden but expects them to get the result out of their system quickly and have a positive mind-set for the Slovakia game, when Joe Allen, Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu should all come back into the team along with Gareth Bale, who played for only 26 minutes in Stockholm.
“We’ve got six days, I don’t want to see any long faces, I don’t want anyone to be negative,” Coleman said. “You can sense some nerves. That’s normal because we’re in unknown territory. Our lads will be down for the next 24-48 hours because they don’t like losing. It’s up to me and my staff now to make sure we give them some reminders about what they’ve done and what they’re capable of and make sure they’re in a positive frame of mind this week.
“Let’s not forget what this bunch of players has achieved. We’ve had a little bit of a lull in results, the performance today wasn’t great but it’s the first one that I can remember where we were 60-70%. It’s a huge test for us next week and it’s one we should have absolutely no fear about. Yes, excitement and a little bit of nerves. But no fear.”
Bale, who came off the bench in the 64th minute, tweeted: “Not the result we wanted but important to get the minutes in and good preparation! #togetherstronger #nextstopfrance.”
Bale had cramped up during Real Madrid’s Champions League final victory the previous weekend and Coleman did not want to take any risks. “He didn’t need 90 minutes today,” he said. “It’s good that he’s been back with the team, he got some minutes on the pitch and he’s totally focused on next week. He’s walked off the pitch and he’s fine. That’s the main thing, they all walked off and they’re OK.”
Coleman said that the England match, which takes place in Lens on 16 June, was not on his radar. “That game doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that means anything is the Slovakia game. We’ll use everything we have, all the powers we have, to get the performance right in that first game.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010