Sunday, 30 December 2007

Desperate Times

You realise you're in dire straits when throwing a defender up front feels like a step forwards!
When Steve Evans went into attack against Rochdale we did make the ball stick a bit more up front; there were flicks an alert striker could latch onto (let me know if you find one!)
It was good in a way to see someone up front who might actually win some of the long stuff we've resorted to pumping up the pitch for the last couple of years, and there might be mileage in the tactic, but it's merely a sticking plaster rather than a solution to the problem of our total lack of creativity. I'd like to see how Proctor and Roberts would fare with a bit of decent service.
A couple of weeks ago I speculated about whether the type of raw, aggressive target man we had in Jim Steel in the Eighties was extinct. I don't think they are, on reflection, and I'd love to see Brian Little find one. There was speculation in the summer that we were after John Murphy, who went to Chester. He'd do the job, I reckon, but then anyone who can discomfort centre backs and keep the ball in the other side's box a bit more would be a big step in the right direction.
He doesn't have to be six foot three, although I think that would help! We only have to remember Andy Morrell to realise that a striker can get under defenders' skin to great effect without being huge. While we naturally remember his goalscoring exploits in the 2002-3 season most clearly; don't forget that he established himself in the side as a willing lieutenant for apparently more potent finishers.
When Lee Trundle was tearing it up during his spectacular opening spell as a Wrexham player, it was Morrell's enthusiastic running which distracted the defenders and helped to make him look good, while Lee Jones was quick to credit Morrell after his record-equalling five goal salvo against Cambridge United.
In term of style the closest we have to Morrell is Marc Williams, but I'm not sure I want to see him over-used this season. That's no comment on his ability as I suspect he has the potential to be a very good player for us. However, I feel he's at the stage of his career where he'd be best served by getting carefully-regulated exposure to senior football rather than being lobbed in at the deep end and charged with saving our bacon. We have no right to demand so much from him when more experienced players have failed to do the job, and putting pressure on him after every goalless game, replacing him in desperation if he can't swiftly come up with the goods, or subjecting him to the fans' frustrations could damage his development.
No, we need the new Jim Steel, and we need him now!

Big Spender

Brian Little would be entitled to ask his defenders what U.E.F.A. coaching courses call "The Carpenters Question", namely "why do butterflies suddenly appear every time the ball's near?"
While there are clearly problems all over the pitch, there's a pressing need to address defensive matters: no team leaks goals regularly and gets results. Our defence is made up of players who have achieved plenty at this level of the game; not only do we have a current international, a member of the Wales squad from last season and the current player with the most appearances for us to choose from, but we also have the captain of a side that got into the play-offs last May. Clearly the issue is a matter of confidence, not experience or ability.
So how can this be sorted? New blood's the obvious answer, but there are possible solutions in the existing squad which might make a difference.
The most attractive one's off the agenda for a while, sadly. Danny Williams plays with authority and heart, and though I prefer him in the centre of the pitch under normal circumstances, there are anything but normal circumstances! Surely he'd make a difference at the back with a bit of no-nonsense defending, but that's not going to happen any time soon.
I'm loathe to see Mike Williams or Gareth Evans throw in with the instruction to save our season, as I think that would be asking too much of either youngster, but another neglected defender at our disposal might be able to make an impact.
Remember that the back four which held firm at the end of last season and dug up out of trouble was Spender, Pejic, Evans and Valentine. Simon Spender has only featured under Brian Little as a late substitute in his first game in charge, and he deserves the chance to show what he can do. After all, you'll never complain about a lack of fight from the full back, and spirit seems to be the attribute we need at the back these days.
Spender's tenacious, enthusiastic and able to get up and down the line too. I accept he has his limitations, but who doesn't in League Two? More importantly, he has not been part of the huge loss of confidence we've suffered of late. When the first team squad is struggling with a collective fear of failure, what better point to throw in a player who is champing at the bit to get back on the pitch and show what he can do?
Mike Carvill's another player who might be given more of a whirl too. He certainly isn't tainted by failure, having had little chance to impress this season. Where his best position is in this circumstance is a problem; when we're unable to get proper service to the strikers another little attacking player is in danger of being by-passed. However, he clearly has the scrap in him to compete, plus pace and a neat turn of foot. At the very least it's worth having him on the bench, from where he made a couple of decent little vignettes at the start of the season.
Likewise, when Conall Murtagh is fit he is worth giving a go to. The midfield has hardly covered itself with glory this season, and while his premature exposure to Nigel Reo-Coker against Aston Villa and subsequent injury have left him looking like The Racecourse's forgotten man, anyone who saw his contribution to the victory at Port Vale, not just in terms of his performance, but also the coolest debut penalty you could hope to see, will have had their appetities whetted.
Oops, did I say “ The Racecourse's forgotten man”? Don't even get me started on Levi Mackin!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Sums it up!

As Brian Little was talking to the press after the game about his exasperation a single word was written on the whiteboard behind him: "Help."

Monday, 24 December 2007

A week's a long time in football

I had to write the programme notes on rochdale early so the printers could have their hols and the world looks a bit different now! i wrote it after the bury game when things were looking up and i was feeling bullish about us ramming keith hill's words down his throat. Somehow i don't feel so confident about it now!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Grimmest Looking Tunnel In Football!

It'll be nice when it's finished!

It's a very welcoming club, Rotherham. Everyone very friendly (well they should be when we're in town-I'll bet they were rubbing their hands together with glee as we arrived!)

The ground's a bit odd though! It was always basic, but since we've last been there there's a snazzy new stand-at least that's how it seems at first. It's not finished though, and apparently never will be! Halfway through finishing it they decided to move to a new ground down the road, so they've stopped building it! Half the seats are in place, and in use, but that's it. And we thought the old Mold Road Stand was an eyesore!

Brian Little After The Rotherham Game

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

You have to swim into the smallest club shop I've ever seen!

The away end

Brian speaks to the nation

Oh, and i did get to have those Eels!

The long game

Three steps forward, one step back. Looking at football in microcosm is a mug's game though. Did we really think that everything would be solved so easily? recovery is not a quick process in any branch of life, and to expect a new manager, no matter how wily, to manage such a feat is naive. Look at last season's great escape act: paul ince, or more probably ray matthiap with ince's help, steered macclesfield away from danger despite their being in an apparently impossible spot when they took over. But it wasn't plain sailing. They pulled away from danger remarkably quickly, got themselves into a position where they could strike for mid.table but didn't build on it. In fact it's easily forgotten in light of our last day showdown with boston but they could have gone dnwn that day too. Our battle for survival won't be won in a trice, but we've shown enough under little to suggest it will be won. I hope he manager the debt sooner than ince did though; i don't fancy going to lincoln for another last day date with destiny!

Oh dear

Well that wasn't meant to happen! we were very poor in the first half-brian little said that was his fault as he picked the wrong side. The strikers were isolated and it felt a bit like altrincham last season as we were outplayed on a poor pitch by a direct team. The second half was better once we'd switched to 442 and the two late goals were cruel, especially as the third one dumped up back into the bottom two. But we can't before to have too many first halves like that or the new manager bubble will have well and truly burst.


They've also got the second worst attack and the second worst good attack in the division. And guess who's worse than them in both categories ! We should travel looking for a win but our own miserable form until the karl fortune suggests our confidence should be cautious. Mind you , he we can get a win today It'll give the table a different complection and a boost to the improvement asian little has wrought with the dean's confidence. This is perhaps the first time Wrexham have gone into a hand under little as favourites ; if we can live up to that billing , something we've struggled to do over the last few years , It'll be another of those little baby steps towards recovery.

The Facts....

I said before that Dagenham are in poor form. Well here's the proof : they haven't won in the league since october 2nd, have won just one point from their last nine games, have the worst goal difference in League Two, have the second worst scoring record and home scoring record in the division.

The epic journey continues

Wow ! Spent the first eight minutes from birmingham to euston squashed in the communication doors between carriages as the clothes show crowd went to birmingham international. It was like being in the belly of a whale. The way he twisted about so violently i'd say he's a whale in need of a good haemhorroid treatment too ! Got a seat now though, thankfully. I can't take all this excitement -How's a Wrexham fan supposed to backincuis himself to big crowds ?

Dagenham knees up

Don't know what to expect today. Dagenham's form's awful - it must be, the're below us! Hope they keep it up! The key thing is I've located a pie and mash shop by the ground so i'll be able to sample some authentic pre match jellied eels!

Opposites day

What a strange experience! I'm on the train to Dagenham but it's not your usual saturday morning train experience! You usually find there trains to be full of blokes off to the footy, with all the noisy blokeishness that entails. However, the clothes show's on in birmingham and the train is absolutely packed with women. It'd be a nice change of race were it not for the fact that the train only has two carriages, and was full by the time we left shrewrbury! Fifty people were left on the platfor at telford, including a guy in a wheelchair. What a class act the train operators are! I'm glad i got on at Wrexham before the train filled up.-I've got a table! Pulling into wolverhampton-this should be fun!

Dagenham part one. Eels!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Away support

Decent turnout and They're still coming in.

No aiston!

Aiston out with a virus! Garrett in!

Bury by moonlight

Being brave

I was interested after writing about our defensive priorities to see Brian Little hadn't intended to retreat so much. It tallied with what i thought and shows how crucial it is that the side are brave in games. Bravery's not just about sticking your head in where it hurts, it's about keeping the ball when you're under pressure. That post of moral bravery will see up through if we can find it.

Monday, 3 December 2007

You're Joking Ref!

Being paranoid, I can't help wondering whether obstacles are deliberately put in our way. I've been making a big effort of late to fight my desire to believe conspiracy theories about how the Football League has it in for us, but their latest comedy decision's making me suspicious all over again!

We play Bury tomorrow and who's the referee? Scott Mathieson. That would be the Scott Mathieson who, last March, was in charge the last time we played Bury. You might think that fact alone is a good enough reason not to appoint him-familiarity breeds contempt and all that. Factor in the fact that he sent two of our players off in that match as well, and I think you have a pretty clearcut case not to give him this match. Cheers Football League.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

More Progress

The goalless draw at Rochdale was another step in the right direction, I think. I don't think I've ever seen a side set up with wide midfielders in front of the wing backs before, and Brian Little's 5-4-1 formation ended up doing exactly what you might expect: it conceded a lot of ground to Rochdale, but defended solidly without really looking all that dangerous at the other end.

But the upshot was a third league game unbeaten, our best run of the season for what it's worth, and a very dogged defensive performance with both Richard Hope and Steve Evans putting in their best games of the season.

Crucially, the new manager bubble is still intact. That belief amongst the players that under Little they can flourish still exists, and if we can get through the Bury and Dagenham games in the same state we should look a lot healthier than we did a week ago.

Little hit the nail on the head after the game in identifying a lack of attacking threat. He'd wanted the side to be more progressive than it had been, getting at Rochdale down the flanks, but it hadn't really happened. It'll be interesting to see if the performance at Bury will address this-I suspect that, with three away games coming in quick succession and not much time to tweak things at Colliers Park, we'll stick to the same shape as it worked quite well at Spotland.

The lack of creativity is something that has been an issue for a year, and I'm glad Little is aware of it. Clearly we will have to resolve this if we are to pull away from the danger zone. The key thing is that if he can continue to boost the side's confidence and make us solid at the back, hopefully we'll start to believe in ourselves more at the other end of the pitch.

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