Same Old Story ... WHAT WAS THE EXPERTS' VERDICTS ON JOHN TOSHACK AND WALES' WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN? MARK BLOOM SPOKE TO FORMER WALES STARS IAN RUSH, MICKY THOMAS, NATHAN BLAKE, ANDY LEGG, EX-WALES BOSS BOBBY GOULD AND WELSH WOMEN'S CAPTAIN JAYNE LUDLOW TO GAUGE THEIR VIEWS
Byline: Chris Wathan
WALES' aim was to make it to the Rainbow Nation ... but it's come to an end with that pot of gold as far away as ever.
In fact, according to the manager, it's even that little bit further out of reach after a year when he described his side is going backwards in terms of results.
But it's probably more accurate to describe a fairly drab World Cup campaign as one that never actually went anywhere, the rainbow-chasing left for the bright tomorrow.
So, to use John Toshack's own words from before the final game in Liechtenstein, we went in as fourth seeds and we went out in fourth.
And all that in a campaign the veteran boss had originally asked to be judged on.
His reign being declared a success or failure on the back of this past year was never going to be the case.
But there was a need to see progress, something to show for 13 months of qualifying action.
A campaign over with the team having failed to take a point off a side seeded higher than them, something the side at least managed in the previous tournament.
Instead fans were left to make do with the expected home and away wins over whipping-boys Liechtenstein and Azerbaijan and not a lot in between. Frustration with this ended with some supporters voicing their disapproval in Vaduz last week. An audible minority it may be at the moment, but it is the majority that want better.
And Toshack will not only know that himself, but want it too.
He will know that even the wins in this campaign have been uninspiring, from needing to wait to the final few minutes for sub Sam Vokes to earn the opening-day win over Azeris.
Liechtenstein home or away was little better, workmanlike but without the wow factor of which many believe this side capable.
The win in Baku was probably the notable exception given the circumstances before that game, a sense of achievement heightened by the fact a vastly under-strength Wales could have arguably been classed as underdogs.
And perhaps within the injury nightmares of that game on the edge of Europe lies the tale of this World Cup for Wales.
The circumstances haven't been right from start to finish; the ill-timed injuries, the suspensions, the retirements, the fact players haven't been available when needed.
So perhaps the manager cannot be criticised for having to use as many as 30 different players during this campaign alone when at least half of them have been ruled out of selection at some point.
A team of any age, let alone one this young, need to feel settled in their roles and that is not something that can happen when a handful of changes are happening with each passing match.
It will restrict options for games, not just in selection but in setting up, just as the lack of a defensive midfielder left rookie Ramsey horribly exposed in Helsinki.
When asked about the 12 months before the start of the next qualifiers, the one hope Toshack expressed was just to have a little more good fortune on that front. You can't really blame him for that; but you can for other issues. …