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Coleman ready for tough year

Chris Coleman hopes Wales can start 2013 on a positive note after the toughest year of his managerial career.

Coleman was handed the unenviable task of succeeding the late Gary Speed in January and Wales have struggled for results under his stewardship.

The Dragons have recorded just one win from six games under Coleman - the 2-1 victory over Scotland - and their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup appear slim as they trail Belgium and Croatia by seven points in Group A.

Coleman admits trying to carry on the legacy of former team-mate and close friend Speed has been even more difficult than he had expected, but believes there are reasons to be hopeful heading into 2013.

He said: "I've had to come in and do the job Gary was doing and try to handle all that. I've had to try and put the emotion to one side which I didn't always do well at if I'm honest. I found that very difficult.

"It's been tough, difficult. Tougher than I thought.

"But we need to try and produce results again in the next three games in February and March, a friendly and two qualifiers. That's my job.

"I thought we showed good signs in the last camp and we have some great games coming up.

"We know Belgium and Croatia must have a massive blip and we have to have a great run to be in with a shout.

"But any game with Wales is a game worth winning. That's how I look at it. We have to do the best we can in the final six games.

"I am looking forward to it, I like doing this job and it's an honour to manage my country. It's a job I always wanted to do.

"It's been the toughest year I've had in management, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to get up in the morning and go to work."

Coleman also spoke of his sympathy for former Scotland manager Craig Levein.

Levein was sacked in November after Scotland failed to win any of their first four qualifiers, one of which was the loss to Coleman's Wales in Cardiff.

The October game in Cardiff was seen as key for both managers, with Coleman also under pressure after Wales' 6-1 hammering in Serbia.

And the former Fulham defender's future looked to be in doubt as Wales trailed 1-0 with just nine minutes to go, only for Gareth Bale's dramatic double to snatch the points from Scotland's grasp.

Coleman knows just how crucial the quickfire salvo from his star player was, given what befell his counterpart.

He said: "I liked Craig. He came to see me before the game at the Cardiff City Stadium and we had a cup of tea and a chat. He was under pressure and I was under pressure and something was going to give.

"With 10 minutes to go it looked like all the questions were going to be fired at me at the end of the game.

"But 10 minutes is a long time in football. I thought we deserved to win. The players were brilliant.

"I felt sorry for Craig. It's so tough. I know how passionate he was about doing the job. Unfortunately he has lost his, but we're all aware of what can happen and we all prepare ourselves for the worst.

"If we had lost, then who knows? I don't know...

"Personally, I didn't feel like it was going to be me (who got sacked). The president and everyone at the FAW (Football Association of Wales) have been brilliant and very supportive.

"But football being football you never know what is around the corner. It shows how fickle it is because I've only been in the job 11 months and I'm the longest serving manager in our group."