Jack the Lad: China Cup in our hands?

21st March

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad talks Welsh international Swans, Alfie Mawson and Ryan Giggs.

The China Cup. It sounds like something my dear old mam would have insisted on having her tea served in.

It’s ironic the competition will see Ryan Giggs take charge of his first match as Wales manager, considering who would have been the major influence on his formative managerial ideas and values.

I love the idea of his former Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson managing in a tournament called the China Cup.

As legend has it, Fergie wasn’t averse to hurling a few tea cups around the Manchester United changing room.

Could they have trusted him with the China Cup?

And can you imagine the conversation if Giggs had told his then Manchester United boss that he wanted to travel to China in mid-season to play for Wales in what is essentially a friendly tournament?

With Sir Alex famously reluctant to allow his famous fledging to play in Wales friendlies, I’m sure there would have been a fair bit of crockery bouncing off the walls, accompanied by some liberal use of the famed Fergie hairdryer!

But despite its somewhat fragile-sounding name, the China Cup is a vitally important stepping-stone as Welsh football moves into a new era in the wake of the successful Chris Coleman tenure.

Many Welsh fans are sceptical about Giggs’ appointment given his disappointing attendance record for international friendlies, even if that was largely down to Ferguson’s refusal to release the player.

The former flying winger will need to hit the ground running in this tournament if he is to win over those doubters, who were also unhappy about his decision to play for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics having retired from international football with Wales.

It will be interesting to see how many of the so-called big names make it onto the pitch out in China.

We already know Aaron Ramsey won’t be there because he is undergoing a “small procedure”.

If Gareth Bale actually kicks a ball in anger during the trip, considering the matches Real Madrid have on the horizon, it will certainly enhance his position in Welsh footballing folklore.

Bale rarely passes up the opportunity to pull on the red shirt whatever the occasion.

His example can only be an inspiration to the likes of our own Connor Roberts, who has deservedly earned his first call up into the Welsh senior squad, alongside Swans team-mate Andy King.

Roberts will also surely draw inspiration from the presence of fellow Neath Valley native Ben Davies in the squad.

Davies has already blazed the trail Roberts is hoping to follow from the Swans Academy into international football.

Hopefully, as far as Swans fans are concerned, Roberts will only follow Davies’ example in nailing down a Swans Premier League place and Wales first-team spot, rather than leaving the Liberty for pastures new.

While we’re on the subject of international recognition, congratulations also go to Alfie Mawson on his first senior England call-up.

Although I will never be able to bring myself to fully cheer on the Three Lions, as one of our own, I can only wish Mawson every good fortune and success – as long as he stops short of actually winning the World Cup!

I had the misfortune of being born in the same year as England last won it, and while all but my closest family have forgotten the illustrious occasion of my birth, we are still being constantly reminded about England’s World Cup win as if it were yesterday.

Anyway, talking of cup wins, let’s hope Connor Roberts, Andy King and their Wales team-mates can pick up some silverware over the next few days, or should that be chinaware?!

C’mon Wales!