Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Maths Doesn't Add Up!

Up to seventh with games in hand on just about everyone above us. Not bad considering the fact that, incredibly, we've played more away games AND fewer home games than anyone else in the league!!!

Stevenage Podcast

The Stevenage podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders, Angelis Tsiaklis and Nathan Fairhurst.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Brown's Leaving Town

I don't suppose I should feign surprise at Simon Brown being farmed out on loan to Rushden and Diamonds. He strikes me as the sort of player that managers and scouts fancy, often to the bemusement of the fans on the terrace.

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
And that's the problem. Scouts and managers go to games, see good technical attributes and perhaps catch a player on a good day, and buy them based on that potential. Indeed, there is something there, but the fact is that potential is a capricious mistress. Just because a player might be capable of putting everything together and devastating opponents doesn't mean they actually will do it consistently.
Brown had the qualities required but a glance at his career record-just 28 goals in 162 matches, roughly one every six games-suggested he didn't use them often enough.
Saunders has had to be harsh with players that he might be tempted to accommodate, and he's making the right calls, it seems to me. If only Little, who jettisoned players who had been performing, had done the same.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Foyle Bounces Back!

According to today's Non League Paper Martin Foyle is about to be announced as manager of York City! My first reaction was "Didn't they see what happened here over the last twelve months?" but I suppose it raises a wider question. To what extent should Foyle be tarred by the same brush as Brian Little?
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

Kidderminster Podcast

The Supporters Association podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders and Carl Tremarco, plus what the Kidderminster stewards think of their keeper!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Wilson's Move Evokes Fond Memories

Mark Wilson has moved back into the area and I must admit the news causes me to expereince a certain misty eyed nostalgia. During his loan spell at The Racecourse he exuded class. He was a quality player who looked a cut above the level he was playing at, and it should be remembered that we were a side pushing for promotion to The Championship at the time.

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.

Temporary Relief

Five wins out of five is certainly one hell of a start by Dean Saunders, and although a couple of the recent performances ahve been scratchy, there's no question that the Gaffer has made a fantastic impact on an ailing squad.

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

Poor Old Kempson!

Poor old Darran Kempson doesn't sound like he's having the happiest of times at Forest Green. They lost 3-1 at home to Altrincham on Saturday; he deflected in the first, was guilty of a howler to give away the second and was given a rating of four out of ten by the Non League Paper.


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

Saunders Tinkers to Good Effect

I'm finding the Dean Saunders experiment fascinating. You can see exactly what he's doing-frankly this is the first time since Denis Smith was boss when I can sit and watch us and see what we're looking to do, which has surely got to be a good thing! The pieces aren't fitting together yet, which is totally understandable as Saunders has only just got his feet under the manager's desk and has had no chance to really sort out the squad and make it his own. Yet while he tinkers and looks to find the different parts of the puzzle, he's getting results, which can't be bad!

The clearest clue to how Saunders wants his team to play can be seen in the type of midfielders he has brought in. Joe Allen, Angelos Tsiaklis, Nathan Fairhurst and Nathan Woolfe could all have been turned out of the same mould; neat, tidy little midfield ball-players who like to be busy and work the ball to feet. There was one passage of play at Weymouth which, I'll bet, delighted Saunders. Fairhurst, Tsiaklis and Woolfe worked a lovely little one-touch triangle down the left and nearly carved the home defence apart, but Fairhurst's eventual through ball was overhit.

The flipside is that they're all a little lightweight. Interestingly, Saunders admitted after the game that he was worried about exactly that issue. Yet he still chose to bring the two new men in this week and play them rather than the more robust Levi Mackin. As I said, the pieces don't all fit together yet, but isn't it great that as Saunders experiments we keep winning?

Weymouth Podcast

The Weymouth podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders and Nathan Woolfe.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Cup of Woe

Steve's blog makes an excellent point about fixture congestion, and I fear our improved form could make it even worse. After the first round of the F.A. Trophy there are no weekends set aside should we make further progress. The designated weekends seem to constantly clash with when we go down to the South East, so we could get a backlog of awkward games in the Home Counties to make up in midweek just when we're trying to pick up some league momentum.

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

Is the Writing on the Wall?

With Dean Saunders looking to clear out his squad, it's perfectly understandable for our minds to wander to who's in favour and who isn't. Well there's one player who must be very concerned after the Altrincham game.
Will Sam Aiston already be mentally packing his bags?
Think about it. I suspect an awful lot of fans, if asked who they suspect Saunders will be looking to offload, would suggest Christian Smith. Yet with Wes Baynes suspended last Tuesday, Saunders played Smith out of position rather than select Aiston, a natural winger. Of course if it didn't work out he'd have Aiston on the bench wouldn't he? Well, no actually.
Aiston's an honest worker whose direct style can force sides back, buthis lack of end product might just count decisively against him in Saunders' mind.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

New Dragon Talk Podcast

There's a new Dragon Talk up at, 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.

Johnson Gets a Call-up

And there's more! Josh Johnson has had his first call-up to the full Trinidad squad! Going to Rhyl looks to have really done something for him; wonder if he's one who we ought to have held onto? With Neil Roberts, Danny Williams and Jamie Reed at Belle Vue too, there might be a few on the coast who feel that way.
Mind you, if they win their games in hand they'll be top of the league, so maybe they're having a gratifying time anyway.
With Gareth Owen, James Kelly, George Horan and Jamie Digwood already there (and no doubt many more I've forgotten!) it's more familiar to Wrexham fans than the current set-up!

Maxwell making an impression

Young Chris Maxwell looks like he's causing a stir at Connah's Quay, becoming the first Nomads player to achieve an international call-up when he was picked for Wales' Under-19 squad for their European Championship qualifier against Turkey. It's good to see the youngster making an impression-he will hopefully be one of the loaned players we'll want to bring back!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Monday, 3 November 2008

An Historic Anniversary

Today's a big date in the club's history; on this day in 1883 we enjoyed the biggest win in the club's history, 12-0 at Corwen.

We should have challenged it last Saturday though!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fixture Backlog Could Return To Haunt Us

It looks like we could lose another game on November 18th, as our home match with Forest Green Rovers coincides with the Welsh Semi-Professional side's game with Finland in Llanelli. Confirmation is expected this week, but with three of our players expected to be called up-and I believe Silvio might also be called up that week-we're looking at another postponement.

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!

Saunders Makes At Least One Family Happy!

Fab fact of the day: of the ten goals we've scored so far under Dean Saunders, six have come from the Williams brothers!

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?

A Strangely Empty Feeling

Am I spoilt already? Four league wins on the spin and I'm sated enough to feel a little disappointed by a comfortable home win!
Beating Lewes 2-0 was a bit like beating Kerry Catona in an elocution contest. It was no more than what was expected, and perhaps we should have done better. After all, we failed to score past them in open play, and I'll bet not many sides can say that so far this season!
Not that we didn't have the opportunities of course. Marc Williams was named sponsors' man of the match, and I could certainly see why; again he was tremendously enthusiastic and difficult to handle, and Dean Saunders rightly praised him afterwards. However, if his decision-making had been a bit better in the last twenty minutes, as ten-man Lewes folded, we might have got six!
Saunders' decision to throw three men up front when Lewes switched to three at the back should have been rewarded with at least a couple of extra goals, so forgive me for my mixed feelings. It wasn't the most fluent performance; if we'd played like we did against York we'd have got a cricket score. But we did create chances, and it was a win. Whether it represented a first faltering step forwards after the Eastwood fiascos or was merely an indication of how poor Lewes are we might discover on Tuesday.

Lewes Podcast

The Lewes podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders, Shaun Whalley and Dean Saunders.

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