Friday, 13 August 2010
Last Chance To See
With the regular overhaul pretty much complete, we can start to settle into seeing how the new squad operates, but don't let yourself get too familiar with them. There's another huge revamp on the horizon, and perhaps some nettles should have been grasped this time round to avoid it.
Irrespective of our success or failure this season, a chunk of the side will disband next summer. If we fail to mount a promotion challenge we'll see plenty of our new signings depart courtesy of the policy of generally only offering one-year contracts. For the same reason, if we succeed we'll probably lose a few of our best players, who won't be tied to us. However, a trio of changes look inevitable no matter what happens on the pitch.
Firstly, should be get the centre back Saunders has been chasing on loan, he surely won't hang around. However, it's the demise of two more familiar faces which I'm thinking of. Frank Sinclair is surely embarking on his final season as a professional. That he has kept going so long is a huge testimony to his professionalism, and he has already made a very positive role for us. To see him still committing himself to his task, even though it's to try to aid a mid-table club in the fifth tier of the pyramid, is hugely impressive. It would be an honour if Wrexham turn out to be his final club.
One would assume the same also applies to Gareth Taylor. Another genuinely fine pro, he was the sharpest knife in a pretty blunt cutlery draw last season. (in case you were wondering, Lamine Sakho was a spoon.)
The worry is that Taylor might now be blunted. Of his ten goals last season, only one came in 2010. Furthermore, that was a fluke; a mishit cross that Wimbledon's keeper misjudged. Throw in another glorious fluke against Lowestoft, when Sakho's inaccurate header hit the back of his head and looped over the keeper, and two penalties and he only got six intentional goals in open play, the last of which came in October.
The fact that he began to pick up injuries in 2010 is a worry too; like Sinclair he showed the early signs of physical decline which might signal the end for them. Taylor does not appear to be in Saunders's thoughts as a first choice striker as the season begins, but he might be a highly valuable tool from the bench, offering us an aerial option when things get tough. Cast your mind back to the superlative job he did late on at Mansfield too, when the way he held the ball up in the closing stages was a huge factor in us keeping The Stags at bay.
However, don't expect Taylor to be the central figure he was last season. This campaign might be your last chance to see a couple of venerable internationals.