Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Memories Expunged!

Well I feel I've enjoyed a bit of a catharsis! Dearden's Spurs went into their last game with Watford needing a draw to get into the final, led 3-0, but lost 4-3! Dearden should have been sent off at the end for coming out of the box to save, but I've had my bit of schadenfreude, so I'm happy! Karma has been restored after ten years of hurt!

Painful memories!

What a way to start the day! I switch on the TV and Sky are repeating last year's Masters tournaments. Okay, no problem; my lad and I enjoy watching the old codgers (some of whom are older than me! sweating it out.

But then Spurs come on and who's in goal for them? KEVIN DEARDEN!!


That guy scarred me! I was a dodgy, short fat keeper, and it was always a shock to watch him and see a professional goalie pull the sneaky, unnoticed tricks I'd pull to try and avoid having to come for crosses, deliberately getting myself into a poor position so I couldn't attack it.

He made Brian Carey look like he was finished, because he made mistakes defending balls that the keeper should have come for, and once Dearden left and we had a proper goalie in Andy Dibble Carey got a new lease of life!

He hasn't let one in yet, not that he's had much to do! But he's already done enough damage this morning!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Come On Forest, Help Us Out

As we ponder a Christmas period in which we've dropped four unnecessary points and Burton have won both games, I wonder if some outside help might allow Dean Saunders to keep in touch with his ambition of actually winning The Conference rather than aiming for the play-offs.

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!

Dean's Striker Dilemma

Dean Saunders could be forgiven for thinking this management lark's not as tough as people ,make it out to be, given the tremendous start he's enjoyed at the helm at Wrexham. However, he's now confronted with a nice little conundrum to get his teeth into. What do you do if you have a problem taking chances, yet your team's one of the top scorers in the division.

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

Woking Podcast

The Supporters Association podcast is now up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk featuring Dean Saunders, Andy Fleming and Woking boss Phil Gilchrist.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Enjoying the Last Laugh

I got uncharactaristically annoyed before the Eastbourne game by the most snotty behaviour I've encountered in a press box! It needled me, and oddly also made me realise just how much I believe in the currrent Wrexham side!

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!

New Dragon Talk Podcast

There's a new Dragon Talk podcast up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk featuring Alan Alger, Blue Square's Conference expert, on our chances of promotion, and the latest news from Woking ahead of our game on Sunday.

Success is a Double-edged Sword

It was my Dad that started it. There I was, basking in the glory of Wrexham's wonderful renaissance under Dean Saunders on Sunday afternoon, when he sparked the paranoia which is threatening to spoil it all for me!

"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

Eastbourne Podcast

The Supporters Association's podcast is now up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk featuring Dean Saunders, Marc Williams, Gavin Ward and Eastbourne manager Garry Wilson.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Tremarco in the Cold

Sam Williamson has confirmed what we were told from the start: he wants to stay permanently at The Racecourse. That's good news: he has grown from game to game since his arrival on loan from Manchester City and continues to add to the impression that Dean Saunders has an eye for a good player.

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?

Eastbourne Preview

The Eastbourne press preview is now up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

New Dragon Talk Podcast

A Dragon Talk podcast has just gone up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk featuring Mickey Thomas reminiscing about the Wrexham-Arsenal game and Colin Hutchinson, who for 15 years was managing director of Chelsea and responsible for signing such stars as Zola, Gullitt, Vialli, De Matteo, but is now on the Football Committee at Eastbourne Borough.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Dull Trophy Draw

How frustrating that the F.A. Trophy draw, quite apart from the fact that it sends us south for another awkward tie against lower division opposition (Dean Saunders record against sides in a lower league: W0 D1 L2!) is that it didn't pair lots of Conference together.

If we get through to the last sixteen and there are no shocks there'll only be two non-Blue Square Premier sides left in it. Let's hope there's lots of surprises in the next round-apart from wherever we're going!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Mansfield Podcast

The Supporters Associaion podcast is now up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk featuring Dean Saunders, Ashley Westwood and Mark Stallard.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Mansfield Preview

The official press preview for the Mansfield game is now up at www.wrexhamfan.co.uk

Just Our Luck!

My Dad reckons there's a conspiracy in football-we seem to play teams who have just sacked their manager more often than anone else does!

I'm not sure the stats back him up, but I'm certainly very sorry to see Billy McEwan sacked before our game against Mansfield tomorrow. I've previously mentioned the impressive Mansfield podcast "Stags Talk" and they seemed convinced that McEwen had no interest in the F.A. Trophy and would pick a weak side at The Racecourse. Now he won't get a chance to and the caretaker managers will pick as strong a team as possible to try and kickstart their reign.

Great! It sounds like The Stags have been utterly dreadful in recent weeks, and just when they looked like they were going to wander along, bewildered and bedraggled, to take a walloping from us, they go and make a change. Of course the caretakers might not be able to energise the side like the permanent appointment will hope to, but what a pity that they get to have a go against us!

Maybe I shouldn't care. Maybe I should just concentrate on our team and our capabilities. And as I've said before, maybe I just shouldn't care about the F.A. Trophy anyway. But I can't hekp it; I'm a fan!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Saunders Hits The Big Time!

The Independent's interview with Dean Saunders doesn't necessarily come up with much that is new, although it's still a good read, but getting national coverage just makes you realise what an advantage it is being a Welsh club!

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?

An excellent day at the office!

What a great day this was for us! We didn't play in the Conference, but no-one overtook us, while above us Cambridge and Torquay both lost and Histon dropped home points to York!

Oh, I believe a Setanta Shield game was played at The Racecourse too, but who cares?

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Friday, 5 December 2008

Kettering Preview

The official press preview for the Kettering game, distributed to the press before home games, is now up here.

Fab Fact of the Day!

If you thought our fixtures were coming out rather peculiarly, don't mention it to a Kettering fan tomorrow, because their recent pattern of games is ridiculous.

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!

Heroes on the Road to Nowhere

Congratulations-and commiserations-to the heroic 12th Man lads, who made their scheduled walk to Northwich, only to find the game was called off! Their gallery of photos is here, and they deserve our continued support.

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!

Where Will The Backlog End?

The backlog of fixtures could cost us dear. We don't even know whether it stops here-if there's a bad winter we might have a number of other games to slot into the midweeks this season, and then there are international call-ups to consider; if the postponement of the Histon game is anything to go by we'll get plenty of help from the Welsh F.A. to ensure we'll not have to go into a game without our manager, so we could lose two more Saturday games.

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

Player of the Season So Far!

Driving back from Stevenage my Dad and I began to muse over the odd nature of the last couple of years, and the consequences for this season. There have to be repercussions from the massive turnover we've experienced this time around, with the side currently undergoing its third major reshuffle in the course of a calendar year (hold tight for another in January!)

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

We Are Real Madrid!

I was listening to the excellent Mansfield Town podcast Stags Talk the other day and was enormously heartened! They were reflecting on the F.A. Trophy draw which paired them with us at The Racecourse on the weekend after next, and you've just got to hear it to believe it. They spoke of us with such respect-and posters on their message board did the same.

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!

Anthony Williams
Christian Smith Steve Evans Shaun Pejic Carl Tremarco
Shaun Whalley Levi Mackin Tom Kearney Neil Taylor
Patrick Suffo Michael Proctor

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

What an Opportunity

An interesting article in the Non League Paper on Sunday illustrated the unsettled nature of the Conference this season. Eleven teams have been top of the table already this season-that's twice as many as the total for the last two seasons combined! Furthermore, Crawley are the only side to last more than two weeks in the top spot!

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

Foyled Again!!

Reading about Martin Foyle's first game in charge of York City sent a shiver down my spine; there was a sense of deja vu as I relived the bad days of not so long ago! On the surface a 1-1 draw at Salisbury looks to be a good opening result, although the home side are in such awful turmoil at the moment, having lost half their side in the week leading up to the game as a cost-cutting exercise, that it might with hindsight turn out to be two points dropped.
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!

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