It hasn't taken new boss Gary Mills long to stamp his authority onto the goings on at Wrexham FC has it? From the outside looking in, he certainly looks like a man who knows what he wants to do and has set about doing it in both words and actions. After the (admittedly disastrous) Dennis the Menace (anniversary) season, the reds will resort to playing in “red” again and somehow that just feels more comfortable as a starting point. With his clear-out of the playing (and coaching) staff Mills has made it perfectly clear that there is no room for sentiment this season after the emotional highs and lows of the 150th celebrations.
Useless Trivia Alert – Wrexham FC Managers and Panini Stickers
How many Wrexham FC managers (permanent boss not caretakers) have appeared in a Panini football sticker album as a player? Well, new boss Gary Mills is certainly one – I remember him as a Nottingham Forest sticker. Dean Saunders is another – I remember him as an Oxford United sticker (he probably also appeared for Brighton, Liverpool and Aston Villa amongst others). It’s too far back for me, but I believe Brian Flynn appeared – certainly for Burnley – did he sneak in with Leeds United too? Are there any others?
At the time of writing, these are the players to have left Wrexham: Dean Keates, Jay Harris, Kyle Storer, Joe Clarke and Elliott Durrell (that’s a whole midfield right there!). In addition, Neil Ashton, Andy Bishop, Nick Rushton, Anthony Stephens, Sam Finley and Luke Waterfall have left the club. That’s 11 first team squad members gone in one swoop! The new manager has stated his desire to work with a small squad so that may go some way to explaining why quite so many have been allowed to leave.
There is no denying that those players were more than decent on their day but there was an increasing feeling amongst fans that a staleness had crept into the squad despite the arrival of Louis Moult, Manny Smith, Wes York and Blaine Hudson for the start of 2014-2015.
Can a Manager be Too Nice?
I say this not wanting to rock any boat (and it’s my opinion only) but I also wonder whether the last couple of managers were a little bit “too nice” to get the full potential out of the squads they inherited. (Nobody can deny that the players have only performed sporadically over the last 2 seasons). Andy Morrell is one of my favourite Wrexham players ever and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and by all accounts Kevin Wilkin is also a thoroughly decent man but perhaps Gary Mills with his straight talking, no nonsense, and “old-school” attitude to running a football club is exactly what Wrexham FC needed in this moment in time. A bit more “knowhow” and a ruthless streak perhaps?
With so many players leaving, it’s probably fair to say that a fairly restrictive transfer budget suddenly looked a lot healthier for the new boss with a pretty clean slate to work with. So far we have seen Sean Newton, Adriano Moke, Javan Vidal, Dominic Vose, Lee Fowler and Cameron Belford added to the squad. With the promise of new strikers (perhaps another central defender will be required after the departure of Waterfall) and the new “smaller”, increasingly younger squad seems to be taking shape.
A Familiar Formation?
If the new season started tomorrow (and injuries were miraculously healed) could the starting 11 look something like this?
Defenders: Newton, Hudson, Smith, Vidal
Midfield: Moke, Vose, Fowler
Forwards: York, Moult, Jennings (Provided the latter puts pen to paper)
Subs: Evans, Carrington, Tomassen, White, Coughlin
From the look of the above, those promised new forward players and another defender will certainly be needed to guarantee any sort of depth to the squad – especially as Gary Mills is committed to the 4-3-3 formation.
I doubt any of the new signings have been brought in specifically to be substitutes so it looks like Rob Evans, Mark Carrington and the like will have to force their way into the reckoning by being right at it come pre-season training – which is no bad thing.
As we approach the new 2015-2016 season in the newly named National League does the Good Ship Wrexham FC have its rudder in place? It would appear that we have a captain who knows where he wants to steer it at least! The club website also reports that Season tickets are selling well for the new season at the Racecourse Ground.
Come On You Reds!