Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Monday, 29 December 2008
The Brewers look unstoppable at the top, but they might be about the suffer a huge shake-up at the top. Nigel Clough is one of the hot tips for the vacant Nottingham Forest job; indeed he seems to be second favourite after runaway top tip Billy Davies, although one website has reported that talks with the latter have hit an insurmountable obstacle.
Clough has publicly said he'd be very interested in the post, which is a major development. It had been felt he was a non-starter as he held a grudge against the club for the way it treated his father on his departure, but it turns out he has decided it's water under the bridge.
The departure of Clough could hit the club he has led for ten years hard. It appears he leads through force of personality, not unlike his father, and that sort of leader is less likely to have left a functioning framework beneath him to allow a seamless take-over for one of the coaching staff. he has honed a side which shrugged off the loss of a key defender to the Football League just before the Summer transfer window closed and built an impressive momentum. He also produced the most cynically effective, one might even say unpleasant, side to visit The Racecourse this season, and as good guys come last, I assume that means they'll thrive!
I hope his move happens, not because the football romantic in me wants to see a Clough in charge at the County Ground, but for more hard-nosed reasons. Every little bit helps!
It's an odd situation isn't it? Our strike partnership have twenty-six goals between them, obviously a tremendous total for halfway through a season, and only league leaders Burton Albion have scored more in the Conference this season, yet we clearly have a problem converting superiority and chances into goals.
So what do you do? It's hard to conjure with the idea of a change up front as an option when your two strikers are doing so well; I certainly wouldn't advocate that solution. Having said that, if Saunders can attract a striker whom he thinks will tuck away a good proportion of the chances that fall his way, then it might be hard to resist him.
In fact, after hearing the way he spoke after the Woking game I suspect that's what he'll do. So what about the Louis-Williams combination? Saunders has used Williams in a more withdrawn role, putting his energy to good use in midfield, and I suspect that might be something which he will look to do again if he's able to attract a striker that fits his requirements.
Sunday, 28 December 2008
Friday, 26 December 2008
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
I've seen more aggressive behaviour from reporters; about ten years ago I recall an F.A. Cup tie at Rochdale where someone sat in a regular local reporter's seat and he was so angry it nearly came to blows! Saturday was weird and different.
I was talking to the guy next to me, who like all the Eastbourne contingent apart from the protagonist was a thoroughly nice bloke. He mentioned that we had a huge squad, and it was then that the subject of this tale chipped in, announcing we had no chance of going up.
Mistakenly taking this to be a general conversational comment, I began to discuss his idea, only to find this wasn't an opinion, it was a FACT! Indeed, everything he said about Wrexham-all critical-was not up for debate. He was above criticism, beyond disagreement, and desperate to attack anything I said.
I ought to point out here that he hadn't seen us play all season, it was just prejudice, backed up by a couple of generalisations: no team relying on loan signings can possibly go up (he obviously didn't see Hereford last season); and we're not much good because we haven't hammered anyone-all we do is scrape lucky wins.
I got gradually more annoyed, but bit my lip. It made me realise that I'm a real devotee of the Saunders cause because, on reflection, my robust defence of his achievements wasn't just me sticking up for my team, or arguing with an idiot for the sake of it; I believed it.
I wondered if it reflected an attitude in certain parts of the non-league media. The majority treat us totally fairly, but there are some who resent the so-called big teams that drop down from the Football League. I can understand that; there are plenty of sides that drop down and act like they're superior to the Conference, which is utter nonsense. I don't think we've been guilty of that though; two years of suffering I think ensured we were suitably humble.
And perhaps I was. As I said, I bit my lip and got out of the conversation. Not that I didn't want to resume it afterwards; particularly when the final whislte had gone and the side which scrapes through to lucky victories had stuck five past the opposition, and ought to have got a lot more. But funnily enough he'd cleared off by the time I finished commentating, and never showed his face in the press conference afterwards. They never do!
"Great hat trick by Williams wasn't it?" I suggest.
"Yeah. League clubs will be after him now," comes the reply.
He's got a point, of course. You can't wish success away, but I must admit it was a cold hard slap of reality for me. Here I am, eagerly anticipating what gems might be attracted during the transfer window by Saunders, who has shown an impressively shrewd eye for a move already. All of a sudden I was forced to confront the reality; the transfer market's a two-way thing, and we're pretty low down the foodchain. If one of our players excels, the carrot of playing in the Football League might well tempt them.
And it doesn't stop there! It was a daft internet rumour, but when I heard the suggestion that Saunders himself could be tempted by an offer from Leeds United I can't deny that my heart sunk. Saunders has been such a rejuvenating influence at the club that to lose him would be a disaster. I don't honestly think it's on the agenda, to be honest; Saunders has made it pretty plain that he sees his current job as a valuable apprenticeship, and his personal commitment to getting the Welsh contingent in the Football League back up to three is obvious.
Furthermore, although anyone scrutinising events at The Racecourse would see Saunders as one to watch, I suspect there aren't too many people keeping a close eye on what's going on with us. If there was, how would Martin Foyle get a job so quickly after being Brian Little's right hand man in the fiasco we went through at the start of the season?
However, there's always an offer that can turn your head. Despite Saunders' committment to the club, some jobs would be extremely hard to turn down, and with results continuing to impress, heads will be turned.
I'll try to have a peaceful Christmas!
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
The fact that he brought him in at all interesting though, as we already seem to have the left back position well covered. We know Saunders rates Neil Taylor; he made him a teenage skipper for Heaven's sake! And we've got Carl Tremarco as well, a player who is England C's current first choice in that position.
So why bring Williamson in? Is it because Saunders just wants to bring in his own men, or is their a deeper reason? Clearly Taylor, being a young lad, might be seen as someone you can't use for the whole season, and Saunders has often put him in a wide midfield position anyway.
Tremarco's the one in an interesting position. Okay, he has had a knock lately, but plainly Williamson is first choice anyway; the question's has Saunders seen a flaw in Tremarco's play. His last game was at Kidderminster, when Saunders complained that we let too many crosses come in from Tremarco's flank in the first half. Although he said that was remedied in the second half, had Saunders also decided that he should seek a more lasting solution?
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Friday, 12 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Being one of the big clubs in a country means we have a much higher profile than clubs like, say, Oldham, who are clearly superior to us but haven't got that unique selling point.
Why should we care? Well put it this way; the fourth highest international goalscorer in our country's history decided to come to us to start his managerial career. Do you think England's fourth top international scorer, Michael Owen, would take the Oxford job?
Oh, I believe a Setanta Shield game was played at The Racecourse too, but who cares?
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Friday, 5 December 2008
Dean Saunders has been manager for ten games before tomorrow's, and only three were at The Racecourse. However, tomorrow's game is Kettering's their 6th away game in a row, and before that run they played 6 consecutive games at home!
Sums up supporting Wrexham doesn't it? All about devotion and ultimately a fruitless journey-but they wouldn't have it any other way. The more people we can find who share their ultra attitude the better; more power to their elbow!
Of course, this will have a financial impact as well, as the Barrow postponement already has.
It makes you wonder whether having runs in the F.A. Trophy and Setanta Shield will be worthwhile, although you can't field a weakened team in the latter tournament, which has strict rules governing how many changes you can make (if I recall correctly eleven of your sixteen must have been in your team or on the bench for one of the last two games.)
I've got a horrible feeling we'll end up playing Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday in the final week of the season. Better make sure we're up before then, eh?
Thursday, 4 December 2008
To illustrate how dramatic the changes have been, consider this question; who could you realistically put forward as the Player of the Season So Far? You might argue it's premature to put such a point, but when you consider the field, you'll see my point. Is there anyone beyond Mike Williams, Marc Williams and Jeff Louis who could seriously be considered? Hopefully more players will stake their claim-once they arrive!
For every game we chose a man of the match on the commentary, and the results of those deliberations tell a story too. No player has been chosen more than twice, which suggests that plenty have impressed but no-one has really had an opportunity to settle into a pattern (it might also be a reflection of the erratic nature of Louis, who is invaluable but can often be up and down in the course of ninety minutes.)
Perhaps te most telling point is this though; of the three players I short-listed as our best performers so far, two didn't get a start between them under Little was sacked. Says it all really, doesn't it?
The fact that
I've never heard us described in such terms before-you'd think they'd drawn Manchester United or Real Madrid! They felt the journey was a waste of time-one of the reporters said he wasn't going to bother to go-and felt a draw away to us was the worst they could imagine. Cool!
An interesting point which came from their discussion was that they felt they might field a very weak team as cup competitions were very low in their priorities. Of course, we might do the same, but with the size of our squad we'd still have an experienced side; Brian Little's side in fact!
In fact, as a bit of fun, here's an eleven made up of players who weren't in the starting eleven against Stevenage. It smacks of the start of the season, but it's probably be able to trouble Mansfield Reserves!
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
If ever there was a season where you could safely say that any team which strings a run together will win the league, this is it. Hope it's us!!
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
What concerned me more was what Foyle said straight after the game. He told the press that he liked that part of the country which made it harder for him to get there and get a result. What??? Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that the right hand man in Brian Little's wishy-washy regime should come out with a comment like that!
It was also eerily familiar to see Salisbury's goal, which is worth looking out for. Despite the fact that he could have picked the ball up, the York keeper thought it was a backpass and tried to kick it clear. Unfortunately he sliced it back towards his own goal where it could be tapped in, forcing even the placid Foyle to criticise his lack of knowledge of the laws of the game. And the name of the keeper? Michael Ingham.
There's nothing new or surprising in football!
Saturday, 29 November 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
He appears, on the surface, to have an awful lot of the attributes which would attract you to a player. He's quick and very neat; his first touch is good and immediately after we signed him I enjoyed watching his tidy recirculation of the ball. Here's a player who's sound in possession and technically solid, I thought, and I was also encouraged by my previous memory of him. He came on as a substitute against us for Mansfield a couple of years ago and completely changed the game, running through our defence, setting up a goal and winning a penalty as The Stags came from behind to claim a point
Sunday, 23 November 2008
I suppose the honest answer is to say it's impossible to tell. York are excitedly putting out the fact that they've attracted a manager with League One experience; well we had the extravagant splendour of a management team consisting of three Football League managers, one of whom had extensive experience at the top level, and look where that left us.
Of course, sometimes assistant bosses have their own ideas but aren't able to express them until they take over. I can't help thinking this wasn't the case at The Racecourse though. While we'll never know just how much of the Little disaster was down to Foyle, to be a participant in such a carcrash can hardly be seen as a positive on your CV.
Of course, we didn't even get a clue of his approach when he was caretaker as he stook slavishly to Little's selection of the game, a fact which, allied to his profession of loyalty to his old boss after the game, suggested he heartily endorsed Little's approach. Lucky for him that The Minstermen didn't follow events in North Wales too closely then, although they surely ought to cast their mind back to their experiences in Dean Saunders' first home game as Dragons' boss to see the value of his fresh start.
Perhaps the oddest element of York's decision is the NLP claims that Denis Smith was also a contender, but they decided not to go for him as they didn't want someone with prior connections to City. While I appreciate that "never go back" is generally sound advice, given the choice between someone who played a part in the Little regime and Smith, whose dismissal caused all our problems in the first place, I certainly know who I'd go for!
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Thursday, 20 November 2008
The tantalising thing about him was that he was nearly attainable. Perhaps we could have signed him permanantly; it was a long shot but if we'd gone up it just might have happened, or at least we would have been in a position to snatch him fairly soon afterwards, once his Manchester United career was over. As it was, we went our separate ways and, like Jim Harvey and Robbie Savage (the Liverpool loanee, not Bradley's finest), he goes down as one of those near misses we'll always wonder about.
Still, perhaps we should understand that the past is best left undisturbed. After all, Lee Roche was a player that had a superb loan spell with us and returned to us bringing with us great hopes that he would bring those qualities to us on a permanent basis. He ended up being released and going to Droylesden.
Indeed, he's in with a shot of challenging the club record for most consecutive league wins in a row-three more wins would do it!
And frankly, if he made it I'd feel very confident that we'd be in a position to challenge for the title as we'd not only have terrific momentum but would have earned tremendous victories at promotion challengers Stevenage and Kidderminster in the process, illustrating our credentials perfectly.
What he does in January fascinates me though, because our revival is built on peculiar foundations. Saunders has wisely chosen to raise the quality of the squad by bringing in young talent from the Premiership and Championship, but with the youngsters clearly not likely to stay with us on a permanent basis, the question remains whether he can build a successful side of players who will actually stay with us the long term.
Not that using the loan market is a bad thing. The transfer window, which I feel is a farcical idea in so many ways, restricts managers like Saunders who come in part of the way through the season, and anyway, I've been feeling for a while that we don't exploit into the loan system like some other do; after all, Hereford United built their side around a core of on-loan players from a higher level last season and were promoted impressively.
Mind you, when you take a look at how they've fared this season now the loanees have returned offers evidence that temporary moves doesn't bring lasting success.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
It must be something of a nightmare for him. He drops out of the Football League and must assume he's going to be a big name in the Conference, he's immediately picked for the first England C squad and has a strong start for us. Yet a couple of months later he's suffered a massive downturn in form, had fans on his back (although his reaction might not have been the wisest) and clearly surplus to requirements, farmed out to a side plummeting down the table towards the Conference South.
You'd have to be particularly hard-hearted not to feel sympathy for the guy, and once again you just have to look closely at Brian Little's decision-making. We had a huge hole in midfield in the Summer, having released Neil Roberts, Danny Williams and Mark Jones, then lost out on Paul Carden. However, Little decides to bring in a seventh centre back rather than plug that gap, saying when a player of Kempson's calibre becomes available you just have to have him. Little's impulse buying has done no favours to Wrexham or Kempson, and Little's comment has a particularly ironic feel right now.
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Having said that, there is a way to avoid the problem. Dean Saunders' cup tie record is in stark contrast to his league efforts: league matches won, 100%; cup ties we go through 0%. So maybe I shouldn't worry about the Trophy after all!
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Saturday, 8 November 2008
There's a new Dragon Talk up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk, a special report on Rhyl with Neil Roberts talking about life under Brian Little, Josh Johnson on his call-up by Trinidad and Danny Williams on going part-time.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Monday, 3 November 2008
Sunday, 2 November 2008
With the favoured, November date for a rearrangement of the Histon game already ruled out for that game, there's a real danger that we could be struggling come the business end of the season. maybe losing to Eastwood wasn't such a bad thing after all-now we need to throw the Setanta Shield and F.A. Trophy matches!
Proof of his motivational abilities, as he inspires both of them to achieve the best scoring streaks of their careers?
Or something rather more basic? It's hard to score if you're not on the pitch, and neither Williams brother made a start under Little this season. Perhaps it's all down to common sense; if you put your best players on the pitch you've a better chance of winning games. Are you listening Mister Little?
Friday, 31 October 2008
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Monday, 20 October 2008
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Friday, 10 October 2008
Admittedly he came on with only about twenty minutes left, but again he showed enough spark, movement and intelligence to suggest he's much too good for the Conference. Let's hope we can keep him for a while longer; after all, the postponement of the Histon game robs us of his services for a match unless we can rearrange it while he's still with us (November 11th is the favoured date I've been told by a number of people at the club by the way!)
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Clearly it's a gamble to pick a young lad as captain, and there is a nagged doubt in the back of my mind about his propensity to pick up knocks. However, as a clean break from the Little era it's a pretty effective gesture as Taylor certainly hasn't been a first team regular this season. Maybe that's the main reason why my gut feeling is this is a good move.
If you want to see how a long ball side should set itself up, have a look at Histon next Saturday. Any side whose assistant manager is John Beck is bound to play that way,although he has taken a step back from his landmark spell at Cambridge where he took direct football to its ultimate conclusion. Players were instructed to kick for touch when they had the ball, aiming for markers he'd put on the advertising hoardings, rather than pass to team mates on the basis that the more time the ball spends in the opposing half the better chance you have of scoring.
By contrast, if you want to see how a team shouldn't set themselves up for route one, look at what we were like against Grays Athletic. I'd already been concerned at the Ebbsfleet game, assuming that we were launching long balls at Shaun Whalley's head because of lack of passing ability in midfield only to discover Little had instructed the side to get it forward early irrespective of the quality of service. Grays was the apotheosis of this pointless approach. Tom Kearney, a player brought in to link things neatly in midfield, had clearly been ordered to lump the ball forwards early rather than move it around the pitch in one of the most obvious cases of a square peg in a round hole I've ever seen.Sadly we played the long ball game incredibly poorly.
We just didn't observe the basics of such an approach, with our midfielders launching long balls from deep in their own half so that even if Jeff Louis was able to bring the ball down, he was so isolated he had no chance of using it. Take a look at how the game at Salisbury turned around for an example of what route one teams need to succeed. For the first twenty minutes they murdered us; they owned midfield and therefore were able to put long balls into the box from high up the pitch, meaning there were plenty of players in the danger area looking to poick up the bits and pieces from the target man. However, we then got a grip on the middle of the pitch and the game changed dramatically. All of a sudden they were launching long balls from deep in their own half, an it was easy to pick their strikers off. Little did we know on that promising afternoon that a couple of weeks later we'd be doing exactly the same thing!
A look at the Forest Green game suggested Saunders might be able to bring the most important attribute required at the moment; organisation. The second goal was a wonderful example of how the long ball should be played. I've felt all season that players don't really make runs off Louis to benefit from his flick-ons, which is ludicrously wasteful as I'm really warming to the big man; he certainly wins his fair share in the air. When Nat Brown launched a long ball through the middle two runners sprinted into the channels either side of Louis, Whalley down the left and Marc Williams down the right. If Louis got the flick there was a good chance someone would be in on goal, and that was exactly what happened; it fell to Williams who prodded in his second. It was a treat to see Louis being used correctly. Not that it seems Saunders wants to go down that route, but it's good to be able to mix it up, especially at our level, and if you have a target man like Louis you'd be daft not to use him!Saunders still has plenty of work to do at the other end.
We've only kept two clean sheets all season, in our first two home games, against sides that played a good chunk of the game with ten men. Saturday was too early to judge Saunders' defensive impact, as he'd not had time to sort the back four out, and the wind hardly made it an easy game for defenders, but he must be aware of a continuation of recent unacceptable patterns which the first goal represented. It was the third time in our last four games that we've conceded a goal from a straight ball over the top of our defence. That's a basic situation, and we can't let it continue to happen. Furthermore, of the seventeen goals we've conceded this season, nine of them have come from set pieces. That is another sequence we can't allow to continue. Ludicrous as it might sound, if we were solid from set pieces we'd be very well placed in the table-after all, we're only four points off the play-offs. That's an indication of the fact that, with everyone beating everyone else, the Conference is wide open. We've been playing badly yet we're still in the mix, which suggests this division might not be quite as tough to get out of as people think.
Let's hope the new manager effect can kick in and kick-start us!
Monday, 6 October 2008
My first sight of him didn't let me down either. This was one brawny guy! He was built like The Thing from the Fantastic Four (scouring Marvel Comics being another of my childhood pastimes) and tackled accordingly! I was immediately in awe of this guy, and his forthright style meant he made a much greater impression on me than someone who made just ??? appearances for the club ought to have done.
The mythology of Darracott was not compromised by the manner of his retirement. A serious injury brought a premature end to his Racecourse career, indeed his entire career. And yet what stands out to me about that was a quote from a specialist, saying that most people would be banging their head against the wall in pain with such an injury, but Darracott calmly sat in the waiting room, unflappable.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Just take a look at our last five managers:
So it's Brian, DS, Brian, Brian, DS. Logically then, the pattern will continue like this:
So I can exclusively reveal that our next four bosses will be Brian Kidd, Brian Talbot, Brian Horton and Dave Sexton. We'll have to get through our next four quickly though, as Sexton's seventy-eight already!
I should even confess to feeling a twinge of sympathy for those who were excited by the news! "Poor lamds, they'll soon come crashing down to earth!"
Of course, such feelings are wrong and unfair. Any new manager should bring a wave of optimism and hope with him. The least you can do is give him a fair crack of the whip. And Wrexham will come again; of that I'm certain. We are a big club in Conference terms and eventually that will see us back into the Football League.
So one day the correct appointment will be made. Maybe it was made yesterday!
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Alright, I'll drop the sarcasm, but there could be real upheaval in the table if Mansfield are docked points for fielding an ineligible player in Aaron O'Connor. They gained eight points in the games he played before the matter was addressed, so if the usual precedent is followed they'd lose them and the table would look like this.
However, an interesting article in Non League Today by John Moules, the ex-chief executive of the Conference, suggests that might not be the end of it. He feels the Carlos Tevez judgement sets a precedent for the damaged parties being compensated, and that the sides Mansfield took points off should be given them back, leaving the table looking like this:
And that's not factoring in the fact that Mansfield might be charged with fielding a second ineligible player! Or any ten point deduction for financially precarious Oxford! Or the mooted voluntary relegation of Lewes. Then it would really get complicated!
Monday, 29 September 2008
Some names linked to the job are ridiculously over-ambitious, some are horrendous, some are nice ideas but never likely to happen. We're told that Geoff Moss' Liverpool connections will be used to the full, and rumours abound about John Aldridge, Jan Molby, Dean Saunders, Ian Rush and host of others. It's all pointless speculation though as people draw conclusions from all sort of false clues. Eddie May was seen in the directors box last Saturday, so the job's his. But no, Andy Legg's agent has been an audacious bid to put his name in the frame through some branches of the media, while there's strong rumours claiming Jim Harvey will be at the Forest Green game! And then what of reports that Robert Mugabe was spotted buying a signed photo of Levi Mackin in the club shop last Tuesday?
So let's be forensic about this and try to use reason to deduce who the next manager will be. You'd expect someone who's experienced, has good connections and is linked to Liverpool. Well, it's obvious really! Surprise, surprise, it's Cilla Black!
Actually, nothing would shock me at the moment.
I must register my surprise at what happened last Saturday. Not at the fact that Brian Little left the club; in fact the odd element of that was how the news seemed to shock people. I was under the impression that it was the worst kept secret in football; as I understand it he hadn't seen the players since that awful night against Rushden, and I've been led to believe that some of them drew the same conclusion as I did. Namely, he wasn't there because he was being eased out of the way.
No, what amazed me was the fact that the Torquay game wasn't used as a job application by Martin Foyle. How strange that the ghost of Brian Little still hung over the Racecourse, selecting the team even though he was gone. If you were Foyle and you were after the job, wouldn't you look at the situation and think that if you picked your own eleven and they improved on the last couple of games (not a tall order!) then you'd be in the box seat?
Perhaps I'm being naïve. Perhaps the team had been set up in training all week and it was too late to change it, but if that's the case it goes totally against a strong rumour in the Racecourse press box last Saturday that there was dissatisfaction when the team was announced. Anyway, even if the side had been set up all week in training, so what if we changed horses in mid-steam? After all, we were often told by Little that the entire week's training had been spent setting the side up in a particular manner, and all that intense preparation hardly led to success!
I don't know what Foyle's intentions are. It seems logical he'd throw his hat in the ring, and plenty of people have installed him as their favourite, but his press conference last Saturday gave me the impression that he was standing in as caretaker merely to ensure the club isn't left in the lurch. He certainly wouldn't be drawn on the question of whether he was interested in the job.
It might be logical to argue that a fresh start seems to be the obvious direction to take. After all, we were in a remarkable position of being led by three men who had all managed Football League sides, but having all that experience on tap didn't work out did it?