Look Who’s Back? Cookie’s Back!

The weekend football action starts on Friday night and look who’s back!


Chris Coleman hasn’t been seen on the Wales scene since 2017, but the man who took the country on a Euro ride of a lifetime in 2016 has been lending his expertise to Gemma Grainger and her attempt to avoid relegation for Wales from the Women’s Nations League.


Wales need to win by a two-goal margin against Iceland at the Cardiff City Stadium to stay in League A, as well as boost their Euro 2025 qualifying hope.


Coleman offered his insight to Grainger during a Zoom call on Wednesday.


“One of the things we have done in terms of the mindset and mentality is being fortunate enough to spend some time with Chris Coleman,” said Grainger.


“We spoke to Chris around some of the work he did with the men’s team because that journey is so similar to us.


“We are two years into a journey that was similar to the one Chris had with our men’s team. It was great for him to speak to the girls about that.


“It was interesting to hear him talk about when the team suffered and what that allowed them to do in terms of ‘Together Stronger’ (the national team’s motto) – the real togetherness of the team and what it takes.


“He talked about the criticism that team had, and to me that’s a natural part of when a team is successful.”


Criticism is something Cardiff City manager Erol Bulut fired in the direction of striker Callum Robinson earlier in the season.


The Republic of Ireland striker was not working hard enough on the field in defensive situations, according to Bulut, who left him out of the starting line-up.


But Robinson has responded, and is likely to lead the line-up for the Bluebirds on Saturday away at Southampton.


“I am always humble enough to take it,” said Robinson who helped his team climb into the play-off positions before recent back-to-back home defeats saw them fall back to ninth.


“He is the manager, I am the player and I always have to take on board what the manager is saying. It was tough because I was trying to get back to fitness and trying to get back on board with what the manager was saying.


“Fitness-wise I wasn’t 100% and the only way I could get there was to start games and [for] the manager to play me.


“He put me in to start against Huddersfield and that night went well (Cardiff won 4-0 in October).


“So it was a lot of things. He knows what I can bring to the team. It was just a bit about being fully fit and, before that, the lads were doing great. Thankfully I am through that now and the smile is back on my face.”


Southampton earned a 1-0 victory over Bristol City on Wednesday which extended their unbeaten Championship run to 10 matches, while Cardiff were losing 1-0 at home to West Brom.


Saints’ former Swansea City head coach Russell Martin believes his team – who sit fourth in the table – are finding consistency.


“It can’t just be lucky for 10 games,” said Martin.


His old club, Swansea, could do with some luck as they take on Huddersfield at home on Saturday, following a run of just one win in seven matches.


Admittedly, those games have included opponents at or near the top of the table – Leicester, Ipswich Town and Leeds United – but the fact is the Swans are only seven points clear of the relegation zone and another failure will raise concerns among fans as we head towards the busy period of Christmas fixtures.


Yannick Bolasie is set to make his home debut after the former Everton and Crystal Palace winger made his first appearance off the bench in midweek at Elland Road.


The 34-year-old signed for the Swans on a short-term deal earlier this week and says: “I am looking forward to Saturday, for any team these home games are important.


“My memories from when I have played at the stadium before have been of the atmosphere being electric.


“This time I’ll have all the fans behind me in a Swansea shirt. I’ve had some really good games there and I hope I can do the same again.”


It’s FA Cup round two on Saturday for both Newport County and Wrexham and a week off from League Two duties.


Newport host Barnet – currently third in the National League – while National League South leaders Yeovil Town take on Wrexham at The Racecourse on Sunday.