Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Sadly Inevitable

It’s a shame that Brian Carey’s tenure came to a premature end, but the events of the last few weeks made it inevitable.

Carey is a man who has made a huge contribution to Wrexham Football Club, and his demeanour as player, coach and manager has deservedly won him a lot of friends. Sadly the amount of goodwill and respect he has earned could not outweigh the facts.

The notable milestones in Carey's reign are negatives. He suffered the worst start of any Wrexham manager, having to wait until his tenth match before registering a win, and also saw his side suffer the second longest run without victory and equal the second longest run of games without a goal in the club's one hundred and thirty-five year history.

All those landmarks were established last season though, and after managing to survive relegation to the Conference by the skin of our teeth last season, we were seized by optimism in the Summer. A pre-season under Carey, with the chance for him to build and prepare his own squad, was seen as an opportunity to go forwards. Unfortunately it hasn't turned out like that.

Matters have hardly been helped by the fact that Carey's fate has been debated publicly like that of no other Wrexham manager before him. Neville Dickens' remarks before the Barnet game were unhelpful in the extreme, but Carey has alsoput pressure on himself. He labelled three home games as must-win, but lost two of them, one by a disastrous 4-0 margin. If you make such public pronouncements then don’t get results the vultures are bound to start circling.

Furthermore, he took a huge gamble on the Barnet game which backfired spectacularly. The side featured a swathe of green defenders as we went into a huge match, prompting one of my colleagues in the press corps to describe the team sheet as a suicide note. As the inexperienced defence crumbled it seemed an accurate description.

The fact is that the Barnet debacle fitted into an alarming pattern. Of our last seven home games we've lost four to mediocre opposition which was able to capitalise on our toothlessness in the second half. Factor in a good thumping by Chesterfield and you have a problem. Few managers survive a run of seven losses in the last eight home games. In total we've only scored in two of our nine home games this season, conceding seventeen.

We should remember that Carey saved us from the jaws of disaster last season. Up until he plumped for a settled side and a solid 4-4-2 and got that run going, things had looked bleak as he seemed to be casting around for a solution, switching personnel and systems, looking for an answer. Sadly we have seen a similar pattern emerge this season.

Of course, Carey should not bear the blame alone. The players have not bailed him out when he needed them. Ask a regular fan who has been our best player so far this season and you're likely to see a lot of head-scratching. No one has been consistently good, and that's a huge part of the problem which Carey can't be held accountable for.

Yet surprisingly the board might ultimately have handled the situation well. It would be a huge shame if Carey was lost to the club, completing a cull of the club's senior figures. At the start of 2007 we could call upon the experience of Denis Smith, Kevin Russell, Darren Ferguson and Carey. The rash decision to remove Smith precipitated a brain drain which has cost us dear. If Carey is willing to remain and work under a new manager, it will be a measure of the man’s commitment to the club, and a rare feather in the cap of a board who have managed to remove a manager without losing his expertise.

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