Sunday, 29 March 2009

500th Post!!!!

Does the Mirror Reflect Jansen's State of Mind?

The Mirror threw Wrexham's fans into some confusion on their way to Histon with the revelation that Matt Jansen appeared to have retired!

Terry Darracott certainly didn't confirm the matter that he's hung up his boots after the match, saying he'd be out for about three weeks, so was he playing the question with a straight bat or is there nothing to it?

Perhaps the article's misleading us, The opening paragraph seems to make claims that the actual comments of Jansen don't back up. So was it a case of a journalist making a mountain out of a molehill, or were things said off the record which he wasn't able to quote but was able to imply? Or is it simply a case of a national journalist seeing playing for Wrexham as tantamount to retirement?

I spoke to a few people who have the inside line at The Racecourse this afternoon, and the story surprised all of them. That, plus the impression the article gives me, suggests to me that Jansen will be with us until the end of the season, but will probably retire then. Which is hardly a million miles from what seemed a likely outcome when he arrived is it?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Histon Podcast

The Supporters Association podcast is now up at featuring Terry Darracott, Gunnar Neilsen, Steve Abbott and Obi Anoruo.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A Game of Three Teams

I wrote a piece for The Leader a couple of weeks ago drawing attention to some uncanny parallels between how their season has unravelled and our similar fortunes. The comparison has led to me pondering our situation further.

There's a school of thought, which to a great extent I subscribe to, that teams eventually settle where they should be, despite fluctuations in form throughout the season. So if, say, Wigan Athletic are a mid-table team, that doesn't mean they'll settle into a pattern of win one game, draw the next, then lose the next, and stick with that throughout the season. Instead they'll have good runs and bad runs, accompanied by media over-reaction as the media draw daft conclusions based on a brief run of form.

Admittedly, sometimes teams maintain their good run and over-achieve, or can't pull out of a tailspin, but generally I'd say things even out and by the final table most teams end up where they ought to be.

That's why Villa's current loss of form isn't a great surprise. To me, they've always felt like they're about sixth best in the Premiership, after the big four and Everton. Their winning streak elevated them way above that position, and the media got carried away by claiming they were the next big team. Now things have fallen away they're getting the opposite sort of speculation. But by the end of the season, they'll probably be in sixth or thereabouts. It was a hell of a ride, but in the final analysis they ended up where they ought to be.

So the question is, where is Wrexham's natural place? Where should we end up the season. Frankly, I don't know-it seems to me that we're one of those few teams that defy this rationale. The reason I can't look at us and make a judgement as to where they ought to finish is that we've had three different teams this season. The first, which Brian Little compiled in the belief they'd take us up, was a mid-table side:

Spender Kempson N Brown Tremarco
Critchell Kearney Mackin Aiston
Louis Whalley

Then Dean Saunders arrived, dismantled that side and built one which was on a par with Burton Albion:

Baynes Westwood Williams Williamson
Brown Fleming Fairhurst Woolfe
Louis Williams

But around the transfer window he reshaped it, and we've fallen off that standard:

Curtis Westwood Collin Williamson
Aiston Crofts Fleming Flynn
Louis Jansen

So how do you work out where our place is in the great scheme of things when we've had three different sides of vastly varying quality? Roll on the days when we can enjoy a bit of stability; not that I have a clue when that will be!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Plucky Little Wrexham!

Don't you just love being patronised?

Apparently Dean Saunders is the next manager of Wales and we're just a testing ground for the FAW. Funny that, because the bloke doesn't seem to give you that impression!

Saunders looks like he's fully committed to improving us, rather than using us for his own ends-perhaps this story's more about the national media's angle than anything else.

There's certainly a rather patronising air to it: I'm afraid we're not all country bumpkins up here! We might be a Conference side, but our players are still professional and not star-struck amateurs!

The actual issue raised by the piece is relevant, and there are interesting questions to be answered in reference to Saunders' dual role. Sadly, this article doesn't attempt to address them though.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

No Saunders, No Fun!

With the play-off push in tatters, the most annoying thing about being without Dean Saunders this week is that I got tickets for my lad, my Dad and I to watch the masters footy in Liverpool tomorrow night, but our glorious leader won't be there to stick a few in for Wales!

My lad loves watching the masters on Sky, so he's still really up for it, but having Deano would have been the icing on the cake. Still, I suppose Ian Rush might get a game now though!

Stradey On!

Is my annoyance at the Welsh F.A. looking to give Llanelli's rugby stadium some senior Welsh internationals just a kneejerk reaction?

I can't deny that a lifetime of seeing the Welsh agenda set by the south, both politically and on the media, has left me with a chip on my shoulder, and perhaps we should look favourably at any new venue. However, I find it a little worrying that the FAW are so keen to leap, slavering, into committing to yet another South Walian venue. As the article points out, the experience of hosting games at Swansea's new ground has been disappointing, and the Millennium Stadium's pitch is a cause for concern. However, the crumbs that have been thrown our way in recent years have been well supported, and the BBC's article treats us as something of an aside.

If they're just talking about the odd friendly, I'll just be a little miffed, but if they're going to give a designated rugby stadium in the south with a slightly smaller capacity than us a full international, I suspect I'll start feeling my paranoia's got some substance to it. After all, The Racecourse has everything the Millennium Stadium has, including a ropey playing surface!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Wrexham Fans Turn Up Trumps Again

Well, I was wrong! All credit to the faithful fans who came out again in impressive numbers for the Kidderminster. What a shame they were rewarded with such a cruel outcome.

Kidderminster Podcast

The Supporters Association podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Spot The Fan

The level of support we've enjoyed this season has been magnificent, but I feel I ought to get down to the bookies and slap the mortgage on us registering our lowest league crowd of the season on Monday!

After what the loyal fans saw on Saturday, and with there unlikely to be all that many away fans, so the figure of 2,405 that turned up against Forest Green looks in danger.

Truly Badly Crawley

I've enjoyed the non league experience this season, which is a good thing as it looks like I'll be getting a second dose next season. Opposing clubs have been an absolute delight, their demeanour on and off the pitch regularly being a pleasant change from what one finds at a lot of our usual Football League opponents.

Until Crawley.

I can honestly say, in thirty-one years of watching Wrexham home and away, from Championship to Conference, with Europe thrown in, that I've never seen a more unpleasant team. It wasn't necessarily their on-pitch demeanour, although wasting time after fifteen minutes and incurring three clear red cards was hardly angelic, but the fact that they were clearly following the example and instructions of their management team.

The Non League Paper constantly carries frustrated complaints on their letters page about the behaviour of Steve Evans and Paul Raynor, and they showed us just why they're held in such low regard by everyone who cares for football. Constant abusive dissent, even when decisions went their way. Kicking the ball away when Wrexham players went to fetch it. Trying to get opponents booked. Very very ugly. I'm just glad my little lad, who has a season ticket but wasn't able to attend the game, didn't see it.

The other grim thing about the game was the officiating. The standard of refereeing, sadly, is the one thing that I wouldn't miss about the non league game, and when a weak official is bullied like this the consequences are inevitable. Apart from the red cards, one of which was a disgraceful studs-in-the-ribs assault on Ryan Flynn, what a concidence that the victim was our best player!) he failed to give two clear penalties, probably because he was petrified of what abuse he'd receive if he did. A strong referee would have decimated Crawley.

Of course, the opposition's antics and the referee's ineptitude partially obscured the fact that it was a woeful performance by Wrexham. Crawley came to do a number on Wrexham and the officials, succeeded. Perhaps the fact that neither were good enough to stop them was the real problem.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Crawley Podcast

The Supporters Association Podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders, Ryan Flynn and John Curtis.

Crunch Time

Well the excitement of getting back to winning ways on Tuesday has passed - the looks on the faces of the players, excellent support and the press was something to behold - a mixture of relief, relief and more relief! Today is another day however and a fresh challenge that unfortunately we are now going to face as the season draws to a conclusion of two games in three days. We have a big enough squad on paper but all to often wheCrunch n Dean has tried to give squad players a chance in cup games they have not come up to the mark. Matt Jansen is unlikely to manage two games in such a short period and our striking options are probably the most limited of all the departments. The keepers are much of a muchness. we have cover for defence and midfield but up front we are still a bit lightweight without the ginger ninja Marc Williams. So as we need the squad to pull together and drive us on to promotion the question is where will the goals come from? Hopefully by 10pm on Monday my concerns will have been ill founded and we will have six points in the bag against our play off rivals. Come on you Reds.......

Decisions Decisions

Two huge games in three days: there's a new challenge for Dean Saunders to get his teeth into, and there are plenty of conundrums to consider.

A word I keep using in commentary of late is "intensity", especially since our results have slipped, and that has made me reassess one of the ideas I've clung onto in the face of fashion and popular opinion. I've got to accept that rotation's an essential part of modern football.

The reason I've drawn that conclusion is that the intensity (there's that word again) has fallen off in recent weeks, and we've paid the price. It's an inevitable consequence, I suppose, of playing a high pressure pressing game with a side which relies heavily on young on-loan players. Indeed, they are the key components in playing that way.

Don't get me wrong: I think it was the right way to go about sorting out the situation Saunders inherited, but it was always likely that the youngsters would tire, and that's why I have to accept that rotation's necessary.

Ive always baulked at rotation, my formative years as a fan being spent watching settled teams succeed. Like Michael Palin's son in the episode of "Ripping Yarns" who is forced to memorise all the youth teams of Barnstoneworth United from the 1920s, I can parrot off the regular starting eleven of the successful sides of my youth:

Davies, Evans, Roberts, Davis, Dwyer, Shinton, Sutton, Thomas, Cartwright, McNeil, Whittle.

Clemence, Neal, Hansen, Thompson, A Kennedy(sorry Joey-you were before my time!!), Case, McDermott, Souness, R Kennedy, Dalglish, Johnson

See? Sad isn't it?

So I'm hardwired to feel that's the path to glory. Trouble is you only have to look at the old games on ESPN to realise that, while football back then was frantic, there was much more chance for a breather, which isn't that surprising as if we believe the mythology the players' pre-match routine was to drink a vat of booze the evening before, then set new standards in romantic conquest al night before consuming a herd of steaks for lunch!

Football has changed, the pace has increased and is now relentless, so rotation has become necessary, which should play into our hands. We certainly have a bigger squad than most other Conference sides, and while they're not all viable options (remember, Brian Little bought some of them!) we've still got enough depth to rotate to an extent.

The double header throws up an interesting test of Saunders' use of the squad. He rested Andy Fleming on Tuesday, but how will he switch things around this time? Does Fleming return at the expense of Nathan Fairhurst, who was very unlucky to lose his place when Andy Crofts came in just as he was running into form, and hasn't let us down when given rare chances since.

Likewise, will he risk Sam Williamson and Wes Baynes, both of whom are not fully fit, or Ashley Westwood, who is also carrying a knock and will probably struggle with playing two games a week for the rest of the season. Does Louis come back, and does he have the legs for two games in three days, a decision which will have to be made with the fitness of Matt Jansen also a consideration. And in a different sort of decision, does Anthony Williams, who did very well against Forest Green and Woking, survive his erratic performance against Northwich?

These are all tough decisionswith major consequences. Saunders' conclusions could go a long way towards whether we get into the play-offs this season. Still, that's what he's paid for!

Friday, 20 March 2009

A Massive Double Header

Believe it or not I heard Adrian Durham on Talksport last month build a game up as being the biggest in the history of The Premiership. So what was it? Man Utd v Liverpool? Chelsea v Arsenal? No, hold onto your hats, it was..........Spurs v Stoke!

I'm not kidding, and it didn't sound like he was! It was a nice illustration of how too much of a fuss is made over the importance of individual matches, encouraged by the hype the media applies to the game these days.
Having said that, the next couple of days could make or break our season. The double header against Crawley and Kidderminster sees us pit our wits against two sides in a similar position to us. To me, that's the beauty of our remaining fixtures; there are plenty of tough games against sides around us, and that offers us an ideal opportunity to claw ourselves up into the play-offs. If the fixtures are too tough and we fail, then we fail. Clearly we weren't good enough in the first place. But we shouldn't fear the big games coming up; they're an opportunity to show we've got enough quality to impose ourselves on this division.

If we win both matches, then on Monday night we'll be in the top five, irrespective of how the other games go. So let's push on and encourage the lads-this is the biggest decisive moment of the season. And I haven't got my Talksport hat on!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Confidence is the Key

Where will our next win come from? Since that night at Burton when our automatic promotion fell off the rails we haven't won and have dropped valuable points against sides who we would have put to the sword earlier in Dean Saunders reign. So why? What has changed? In paper we now have a stronger side with the introduction of Andrew Crofts, Matt Jansen and John Curtis all experienced and proven at higher levels yet as we all know football isn't played on paper it is played on a pitch. Is it a mental thing? Burton haven't won since they celebrated winning the championship after winning against us. Is it for Wrexham the mental blow of not being able to catch Burton that has sent our form spiralling? The only thing that is certain is Dean needs to get the players heads right for the run in as we cannot afford to drop too many more points. That 10 letter word C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E will make the difference. Come on Dean get the lads buzzing again!

Woking Podcast

The Woking podcast is now up at featuring Dean Saunders, Andrew Crofts, Matt Jansen and Anthony Williams.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Come on Jeffo!

So what happens today then? Woking showed that they're not a side who are willing to roll over and die at The racecourse earlier this season when they fought back to draw 1-1 and missed chances at the end to clinch the game, although by the same token we ought to have finished the game off before they came back at us-that was comfortably the most wasteful we've been this season, and that's saying something!

On the other hand, when Woking won 1-0 last Saturday agaionst Barrow it was the first time they'd scored since January, and even that long-awaited goal took a very heavy deflection! Their manager said afterwards that they missed a plethora of chances and threw everything at Barrow early on though, so I think we know what to expect today and can only hope they're as careless in front of goal as we are!

It all boils down to which Wrexham turn up though, doesn't it? The Wrexham of a month ago would travel in genuine expectation of a win today, but now it doesn't feel so certain. Hopefully Jeff Louis can maintain his incredible record of scoring against his old clubs this season, a handy attribute as he has played for just about every side in The Conference! He's hit the net against Weymouth, Stevenage, Forest Green, Ebbsfleet and Oxford, which only leaves Woking and Mansfield of his ex-employers!

Likewise, will we be able to get our midfield mojo back? Will Anthony Williams be able to make a case for holding Gavin Ward off in the long run? And most worryingly of all, can our defence actually go ninety minutes without having one big blow-out and gifting the opposition a goal? Or, perhaps more to the point, with Woking as wasteful as us, when they do foul it up, will The Cards accept the gift?

Here's Hoping!

Just passed Wembley. Let's hope we can stop there in a couple of months!

A Crucial Stage

An excellent point made on the Red Passion Messageboard by Drury-red. By the time Stevenage, already well ahead of us in terms of games played, take the field in a league fixture again, we'll have played four Conference matches, away to Woking and Northwich, then at home to Crawley and Kidderminster. It's a great opportunity to pull ourselves back up into the frame, despite the table's current unpromising appearance.

They're the team we're chasing, in fifth place nine points ahead of us having played three games more, so it's in our hands to climb above them by the time they get a chance to register another point. The one problem with the theory's whether we can pull out of our current nosedive ad actually do it!

Reading The Signs

Well, I'm just making my way down by train to Woking-just opened the blind to be greeted by the site of a huge field of manure-hope that's not an omen!

I feel like reading the entrails a bit, to divine just what's going to happen, so I'm encouraged by a sight I'm looking forward to seeing in Woking once I arrive. The town's the setting for H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds", and I want to see the big sculpture in the middle of the town commemorating it-it's a Martian Attack Vehicle, which must rank as one of the least orthodox examples of public sculpture to be commissioned in this country!

Remember the stink when there was talk of a sculpture being built on the roundabout by Sainsbury's in Wrexham? It couldn't happen because so many people were against it, so the good folk of Woking must be particularly enlightened to embrace this idea! Can you imagine the debate?

It's particularly open-minded of them to allow it to be built when you consider why Woking was the setting for the novel. Wells lived there, didn't like it much, and therefore decided that it should be the location of the Martian landing so the aliens could lay waste to the town! His desciption of the town being annihilated is written in loving detail, but Wokingites still embrace the book with pride! Good for them! Let's hope that, as in the book, the match ends with the invasive Red Weed triumphant!

Hang on, another way to interpret the ending is that the invading force is routed! Maybe using literature to find omens about football fixtures isn't as good an idea as I thought!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Player of the Season

It's that time again! Go to and you can vote for the Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season, presented by the Supporters Association in conjunction with the Evening Leader

Any player can be Player of the Year (but clearly it'll be Christian Smith if there's any justce in the world), while the young player must be aged under 21 at the start of this season.

Eligible players for the Young Player of the Season who have played for the first team this season are: Joe Allen, Obi Anoruo, Wes Baynes, Jon Brown, Ritchie de Laet, Nathan Fairhurst, Andy Fleming, Ryan Flynn, Jamie McCluskey, Christian Smith, Neil Taylor, Angelos Tsiaklis, Marc Williams, Sam Williamson, Nathan Woolfe.

Can Williams Grab His Chance?

Dean Saunders has shown in his managerial career so far that he isn't frightened of making big decisions, though our poor run of recent form has forced him to make more than he would have liked of late.

Gavin Ward is the most high profile victim of our recent collapse, and you can understand that decision: while he hasn't exactly been committing howlers, there have been a few goals lately where you could point the finger at him more than anyone else. The notion that has been floated that this will give him a reality check is unfounded though: Ward's a serious, committed professional who will have been analysing his performances thoroughly, and will be desperate to reclaim his place. It's Anthony Williams who's in possession of it now, and it's literally in his hands to make the most of the opportunity.

Dropping a goalkeeper is no small issue for a manager, and this is the first time Saunders has had to do it. In making the decision, and concluded that removing Ward is a requirement, Saunders will have had to factor in whether the replacement will be any better, and I suspect that might have been a matter which he had to give serious consideration.

I think it's been fairly plain that Williams hasn't featured in Saunders' thinking, and this is an unexpected chance for him to show his capabilities. There is a real danger that he has lost confidence over the course of a year and a bit on the sidelines though, and this is something which we must hope will be restored along with his place in the team.

One key attribute which Williams boasts was clear on Tuesday though. He made a big impact when he arrived under Brian Carey with his organisation: he was eager to maintain a high line at the back for set pieces, not least because his lack of height means he needs to try and avoid aerial confrontation. It was good to see him very animatedly marshalling the defence in the same manner again, as I got the impression during his last days as our number one last season that his loss of confidence was reflected in a less demonstrative manner when he was sorting his defenders out.

This approach paid dividends in the first half when a nasty free kick caused him problems, only for the attempt on goal to be ruled out because the high line had caught the striker offside.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Decline and Fall

Our current slide is a bit worrying, isn't it? Going into a tailspin doesn't have to have disastrous consequences as long as you pull out of it quickly, but that's something we've signally failed to do. Our aspirations have changed dramatically from being a hot tip to get into the play-offs to something approaching outside bets: I think that's how you'd describe a side who has to win three games in hand to get level with the last play-off spot.

The root cause of this decline is not clear, of course. I've already looked at Gavin Ward's removal from the team, but clearly the goalkeeper is not the only person who should shoulder the blame. The elephant in the room is the coincidence of Wrexham's loss of form and Andrew Crofts' arrival.

Plenty of fans on Red Passion have brought the issue up mind, and a run of seven games without a win since he came from Gillingham, coming after a run of fine form, has raised a lot of eyebrows. It's certainly fair to say that Nathan Fairhurst, who was enjoying a good vein of form when he made way for Crofts, has every right to be disappointed to lose his place. However, Saunders said shortly before the transfer that irrespective of whether people are playing well, he isn't nostalgic and would drop players if he could bring in others who would improve the team. That's the ruthless attitude you want to see in a manager, but his lauding of Crofts on his arrival makes it difficult to reverse his decision without losing face.

It's a peculiar conundrum. Crofts undoubtedly has the pedigree, as Saunders correctly pointed out. You can see it in some of his passing. However, it might be argued we've lost a little but in midfield when we don't have the ball.

Fairhurst and Andy Fleming might look like a lightweight pairing, but they are full of energy and press relentlessly when we haven't got the ball, forcing errors and regaining possession swiftly. Crofts is more of a holding midfielder, and I wonder if this has brought about one of those subtle shifts in the make-up of the side which has far-reaching consequences.

It all comes back to that idea of a tidal wave being caused by enough butterflies beating their wings simultaneously. There are a number of small factors stacking up to destabilise the side, some of which lead on to the next. Young players are bound to have inconsistent patches, so a young side is likely to suffer downturns in form. When you get a few key players lose form and confidence at the same time, you have a problem, and I think it's fair to say that Mike Williams and Jon Brown will recognise that they've not quite been at their best in the last couple of weeks.
Then there's the issue of our habit of conceding sloppy goals which, irrespective of the fact that a Conference level you're always likely to have to build a team from players who make errors, is getting beyond a joke. There always seems to be somebody ready to lose concentration for an instant at some point in the second half. Whether that's a fitness issue-I believe Saunders is frustrated by this issue in some respects and would dearly love to get a good pre-season in with his players-is a moot point.

Oh yes, and just in case I forget, we have lost our best player through injury for the rest of the season. With no real cover for him, that might just have an influence too, don't you know?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Taking A Chance on Jansen

Matt Jansen's arrival at The Racecourse is certainly a fascinating one! The question is whether he is the Matt Jansen he was seven years ago.

I'm sure we're all familiar with the story of the dreadful motorcycle accident which threatened not only his career but his life back in 2002. The question is whether he'll be able to rediscover the form he enjoyed in his youth by dropping down to the fifth tier, or whether the scars he bears from his trauma mean he'll never be able to reach those heights again.

Because make no bones about it, Jansen was one hell of a young prospect. Sven-Goran Eriksson fancied him enough to see him as a potential international, and if things had not gone so sadly awry he would never have dreamed of rolling up at Wrexham at this point in his career.

The question is, will Saunders find he still has the ability to create and destroy? Unfortunately a few of the players he has brought in have failed to bring their undoubted technical abilities to bear on the pitch. Patrick Suffo admits that he hasn't got more than sixty minutes in him, and had an extremely unhappy thirty at Eastbourne. Christian Gyan's hopes look have been terminally damaged by his disasterous showing at right back against Ebbsfleet, a performance brought into stark relief by the subsequent improvement of form by Aurelien Collin, leading me to the obvious conclusion that his shaky play in that game was substantially down to the flaky full back outside him. Jamie McCluskey, much younger but once more a player who, if he'd been able to avoid injury problems, wouldn't have touched The Conference with a bargepole, has also yet to be able to show us fully what he can bring to the table despite a couple of sparky cameo performances as a late sub.

So will Jansen be able to buck the trend and impose his undoubted talent on the pitch? For the sake of our faltering play-off hopes, I hope so, although I can't help holding my breath in the hope that there's something else in the pipeline as well. Saunders said after the Forest Green game that he saw Jansen as less of a gamble than an untried young striker, and he seemed to have a specific player in mind. I must beg to differ; Saunders' record in the transfer market is markedly better when he's bringing in raw talent on loan from the upper echelons of the game than when he trades in the bargain basement for talented but damaged goods. Bearing that in mind, a highly-rated but green kid from The Premiership might well be more of a banker when thrown in against Conference defences.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Fans Right To Vent Their Eastbourne Anger

The nature of the defeat at Eastbourne was disappointing as it was one of those games which seem to be just drifting towards a draw, and suddenly, completely out of the blue, the opposition come along to snatch the win. Frankly a toothless performance and a draw was going to be pretty tough to take anyway for the travelling faithful, who had once more undertaken a long trek in admirable numbers. The concession of that goal, despite its alarming sense of inevitability, provoked a strikingly raw response.

Perhaps it was the nature of the game, which as I said was drifting to a rather grim 0-0 before Matt Smart's intervention, was what made the sudden outburst so striking, maybe it was the strong language used, but when the Wrexham fans suddenly started chanting a profanity angrily across the ground it had quite an impact; I swear I actually saw a couple of jaws drop near me!

Despite from the dad in me, who is suddenly aware of bad language in the crowd when it might reach the ears of my ten-year-old lad (not that he was there on Saturday-dragging him all the way to Sussex to witness such a limp defeat would be tantamount to child abuse!) I am inclined to condone the fans' reaction.

There are always instances where fans' abuse oversteps the mark, and we can all think of plenty of recent examples, but this wasn't directed at anyone, this wasn't designed to debilitate or humiliate. It was a spontaneous reaction from the most devoted of people. They had given up their Saturday to travel all the way to the south coast, only to witness a disappointment, and they had to speak out. It wasn't, I feel a criticism of the regime, or in particular of the current side. It was merely an expression of anger and frustration. They feel entitled to expect more. Frankly, the manager and the players agree, and hopefully they'll be able to offer more sooner rather than later.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Russell Brand's Gold Standard of Football Reporting!

Fair play, Russell Brand's good! I dream of writing a piece for The Leader which merits a headline like this one from today's Guardian:

"Manchester United's cyborg keeper put zoetrope-toting Tottenham to shame
Where United had technology on their side, Harry Redknapp had to rely on cave paintings and lucky charms."

I haven't read it yet (it's here if you want to try to beat me to it.) but I'm bracing myself for a disappointment. How could any article live up to that billing?

Wrexham Reserves Part Two!

I wrote a few months ago about how Rhyl has become a refuge for ex-Wrexham players, and now another colony of former Dragons has appeared! Just as the North Wales coast became a welcoming home for Brian Little's cast-offs, so York is a safe haven for those surplus to Dean Saunders' requirements.
Martin Foyle has loaned Kyle Critchell, Simon Brown and Levi Mackin, while Shaun Pejic and Christian Smith went there for free. That's six players we've had at The Racecourse this season if you throw in Adam Smith. Smith's a rare beast, a player Brian Little took on trial and then didn't sign! He wasn't hard to impress!
I'm not surprised that Pejic, Critchell and Mackin have all made a positive impact up there, while the jury was out on the likes of Brown and both Smiths.
Pejic was City's outstanding player on his debut last Saturday, Mackin has settled after a shaky start to establish himself as a solid defensive midfielder. while Critchell, at right back, has impressed, also looking solid when filling in as a central defender.
It'll be interesting to see what Saunders intends for Mackin and Critchell. Saunders has already spoken positively of Mackin's attitude, explaining that he feels he is capable of getting more out of him, and I'd like to see if he can.
Critchell's only played twice for us, so ironically York's fans have a much better idea of what he's capable of than we do! He looked good on his Wrexham debut, but the fact that he was allowed to go out on loan and hasn't been recalled despite the fact that we've only fielded a specialist right back in one of our last fifteen games suggests Saunders might not see a future for him here.
I assume Brown has been farmed out with a view to a permanent move, especially as this is his second loan of the season and he hardly set The Racecourse alight. However, I'm told he offers York nothing they haven't already got, so we may see him again.
It's fascinating, and something of a relief for a club eager to reduce its squad, that Foyle has decided to hold a Colliers Park reunion, but it casts some doubt on his judgement. He and Little put together a mid-table Conference side, Saunders dismantled it and put together something a lot better, yet he has decided to reassemble it rather than learn from his mistakes.
Foyle argues that, given a short amount of time to reshape his side, and with his priority to create a side capable of avoiding a relegation scrap, the sensible thing to do is fall back on players he knows. Saunders' success having inherited a similar situation suggests Foyle has set his sights rather low, and if I were a York fan I'd feel a little short-changed. Little's policy of bringing in players he knew was hardly a roaring success, and now Foyle is repeating it. Which is fine by me!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Williams Loss Leaves Gaping Hole

On Saturday morning I was chatting to a few friends about how desperately we needed to bring in a striker as we were rather short on options. Little did we know how dire the situation would become just a few hours later!
The loss of Marc Williams is an immense blow. For me, he's the runaway candidate for player of the season at this point, but quite apart from that, we are indeed horribly threadbare when it comes to attacking options.
With Michael Proctor clearly not rated by Dean Saunders, Shaun Whalley shipped out on loan for the same reason and Patrick Suffo having at best an hour in him, the Wrexham manager's options are rather limited.
The problem is that, as I understand it, Saunders has been as aware of the problem for as long as we have been; of course he has! He's been aggressively pursuing new strikers, but has yet to find one who is willing to come to us and is of a high enough standard to actually improve the squad. If that's the case, the chances of him finding the right man in a matter of days seems rather slim!
So what of the other options available to him? A change of system's obviously a possibility, but would that be wise when a youthful side seems pretty much in the groove of playing 4-4-2, and Jeff Louis-a striker who it appears requires careful guidance-is used to having a partner? I've heard talk of Silvio Spann being tried out on training behind a solo striker, which is perhaps the one position on the pitch you'd feel comfortable playing him as you'd be able to tell him to forget his defensive reponsibilities to an extent, although I'd have thought that would work best with a striker making darting runs in front of him for him to hit. Like Marc Williams.
The other possibility, of course, is the forgotten man of The Racecourse, Steve Abbott. He appears to be most comfortable in the hole and was brought in to boost our goals total from midfield, but has faded from view. I wonder if Saunders will give serious thought to throwing him into the void?
Otherwise, we could always fall back on this guy!!!!

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