Coming up on Sport Wales: The TV programme

By Graham ThomasSport Wales reporter

Stop me if you've heard this before.

A Wales team seeks a new man at the helm to steer them towards success against a backdrop of steady improvement under the previous regime.

The governing body has a clear idea of the man they want, but the players go out of their way to express loyalty and admiration for the existing No. 2.

It results in an uneasy atmosphere ahead of the coronation, which can then go one of two ways - a new spirit of unity biding everyone together, or cracks that eventually widen beyond repair.

The search for a successor to Gary Speed - featured in depth in this week's Sport Wales - has obviously taken time, given the level of respect for the late Wales manager and the tragic circumstances of his departure.

But with the new manager Chris Coleman about to take charge, the background has striking echoes of the Wales rugby team's succession of 2004.

Then, it was Mike Ruddock who was appointed whilst the players voiced a continuous chorus of approval for Scott Johnson.

This time, second-in-command is Raymond Verheijen, the Dutchman who worked closely alongside Speed.

Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Sam Ricketts and others have all spoken in interviews, or on Twitter, of the need for continuity, the valuable input of the Speed back-up crew that have to be retained.

The similarities don't end there, either. Both Johnson and Verheijen are bright, personable coaches with a maverick streak, but who also seem to connect emotionally with players in a way that inspires fierce loyalty.

Both, though, are non-conformists, independent travellers who prefer to tread lightly with few contractual obligations.

This presents problems for those appointing national coaches. Do they allow their new man to dump the remnants of the old order and risk alienating the players?

Or do they tell the new boss he has to work with Mr Popular - and risk him thinking he isn't really the boss at all?

These are minefields for the likes of FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford to negotiate and Sport Wales examines all elements of the drama by hearing from Coleman, Verheijen, Lee Clark (Coleman's former captain at Fulham), Ray Ranson (the Coventry City chairman who appointed Coleman and then sacked him) and former teammate Nathan Blake.

In the studio, Jason Mohammad will chat up, down and around the appointment with guest Matt Jones.

Away from football, we also uncover what exactly lies in store for Wales' Six Nations squad when they journey to Poland next week.

Our reporter, Gareth Rhys Owen, got there ahead of them and opened the doors to the deep freeze cryogenic chambers, speaking to the staff whose job it is to make sure the likes of George North are nicely chilled for the tournament.

We also hear from North himself.

In the first programme of 2012 we talk to Colin Jackson, who gives us his five top tips for Welsh Olympic success and we also catch up with Welsh rhythmic gymnast Frankie Jones, who is to be featured in a new sculpture at Heathrow Airport.

Departure time for a new series of Sport Wales - 10.00pm Friday night.

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