>It’s hard not to feel sorry for released players, so this time of year is particularly taxing for a soft-hearted soul like me. I’ve got a particular sympathy for Simon Spender though, whose long time at The Racecourse has been ended.
I can’t help feeling that in this case the baby might have been thrown out with the bathwater.
Dean Saunders had to undertake a swift pruning of the squad he inherited, that much is beyond dispute. However, I can’t help but think that Spender is a player who has plenty to offer at this level.
He has, after all, spent his whole career in the Football League, is still pretty young, and has had a frustrating career pattern: he tends to struggle to get his break under a manager, finally get his opportunity and take it well, only to be jetisoned once a more alluring right back catches The Gaffer’s eye.
As an example, look at his time under Brian Carey. He finally got a run at the end of the 2006-7 season, and performed admirably, scoring at Lincoln and memorably going on that late surge at Shrewsbury which culminated in a perfectly timed pull-back for Michael Procter to hit a crucial winner. Defensively he was sound as the side stopped shipping goals, but Spender’s efforts didn’t protect him from his usual fate of losing his place at the start of the next season once results stopped going our way.
There is a precedent for those who suspect this is a good move: when Neil Salathiel was released by Brian Flynn it struck me as a mistake to remove a player who, though limited, had served us with admirable energy and robustness in our dark days trawling the lower reaches of Division Four. However, in bringing in Barry Jones Flynn affected a successful upgrade, and Jones’ first season ended in promotion.
Ironically,Spender was captain for our first friendly this season, albeit at the behest of Brian Little, who showed trademark decisiveness by sharing the armband around rather than make a decision. Now he’s rejected. I just hope we are able to find someone better than him, because I’m struggling to think of a more effective Wrexham right-back since Jones.