Is it my imagination, or do we sign back a disproportionate number of ex-players?
Andy Morrell is the latest one who looks like he might come back for another stint at The Racecourse. His exploits when we were promoted seven years ago have assured him a place in the club's history, but should he return he'll have to buck a trend if he's not to tarnish that reputation.
When you consider the high number of players who've come back for more, there seem to have been plenty more who didn't live up to expectations in their second spell with us. Gary Bennett, Chris Armstrong, Juan Ugarte, Mark Jones, Lee Roche, Scott Green and Mike Ingham spring immediately to mind.
Leaving the debit column behind, successes are harder to find. Mickey Thomas perhaps; Kevin Russell wasn't the same player up front but reinvented himself as an effective midfielder; and Lee Jones, hampered as he was by injuries in his three subsequent spells, had a decent enough strike rate.
There's an interesting pattern when you look at the players who've had a disappointing second spell with us. They tend to be goalscorers. Each of them went on to better things based on what they'd done for us, but having had a taste of life in the higher divisions, they came back down to us and failed to live up to expectations. And isn't that perfectly natural? Players don't drop back down the divisions unless they have to; strikers who can still score at their old rate wouldn't have to come back to us. Naturally, this means they fail to live up to fans' expectations, even if they didn't do that badly (look at Bennett's stats in his second spell, for example; while he didn't manage to hit his previous heights in a Wrexham shirt, a goal every three games was certainly not bad; it would have worked out at fifteen league goals if he'd been there for the whole season.)
And of course, that's what Morrell would have to watch out for if he returned. The beauty of Morrell was always his energy, and that down-to-earth willingness to put in a good shift will, one suspects, still be there. The encouraging fact that Bury offered him a new contract for this season supports that notion. However, fans will recall the remarkable tally of thirty-four goals he managed in his last season. and if they expect him to replicate that, their expectations would be unreasonable.
People forget that, until that phenomenal season, Morrell looked more like an eager foil for a goalscorer than a spearhead. He was the remarkable foil for Lee Jones when the latter hit five past Cambridge, and was expected to fulfil the same role for him and Lee Trundle the following year. That would be the logical role he would be cast in should he re-sign, doing the donkey work for Andy Mangan. If the deal is sealed, I hope everyone realises that from the off.