Friday, 31 August 2007

Rotation Frustration

Brian Carey and Steve Weaver got a lot of experience last season of lifting their team up from the floor after a crushing blow. Considering the nature of Tuesday's defeat to Aston Villa they'll have to use those skills again before tomorrow's game.
There's no disgrace in losing to a Premiership side. After all, the result obscures the fact that for the first half hour we were the better side, and in the opening five minutes of the second half, when the score was still 1-0, we forced Stuart Taylor into two good saves. If either of those shots had gone in it would have been game on!
However, once Villa got their second you knew the game was over, and that was when the damage was done.
The nature of the line-ups made a big impact on what happened next. Often a side will take its foot off the pedal once it's in the comfort zone against a lower division side, but the eleven Martin O'Neill picked was never going to do that. He'd made six changes from the team that beat Fulham last Saturday, but that wasn't a reserve side he put out.
Instead, he'd packed his side with players hungry to impress and get a chance of a run in the first team, so rather than relax they pushed on, looking to impress the boss. Look at Shaun Maloney, who's been talking of moving on to get more time on the pitch this week, and has sent a message to his boss in the form of three goals, or Marlon Harewood, an expensive Summer signing who'd only made one brief substitute appearance before Tuesday, and kept going until he'd got his first goal late on. The result of such hunger was a margin of victory of five goals.
Of course, the fact that Wrexham prioritised the Hereford match also had an effect. Would the midfield have been able to withstand the impressive muscular athleticism of Nigel Reo-Coker and Isaiah Osbourne better with Danny Williams in their midst? Would the presence of Neil Roberts have given support to the admirable Michael Proctor? Would Matty Done have exposed stand-in right-back Craig Gardner with his explosive pace? We'll never know, although to be fair some of them were carrying knocks.
The key thing is how we kick on from here, a sentiment which has been alarmingly common amongst Wrexham fans over the last year. Carey and Weaver have succeeded in getting the side to react positively to knock-backs since they took charge. The low point of last season was surely that cruel home defeat to Notts County through an injury time own goal by Simon Spender, but we bounced back to win our next three games, two of them away to sides that reached the play-offs. That's how inspirational Carey and Weaver can be and they've got a much stronger squad now. We need to see that they've worked their magic again this week!

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