>So the long-awaited retained list is out, and inevitably there are surprises and outgoing players that some of us will be sorry to see go.
Of course Saunders promised he’s cut the squad back to the bone. Indeed, he said last Saturday that he’d have to release players he didn’t want to let go.
Bearing that in mind, I have to add a qualifying statement before I go on to sympathise with certain released players: the fact is we couldn’t keep the same squad as we were mediocre last year at best. Changes had to be made and you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. As I’ve said all along, the need to break the squad up isn’t disputed; the key is whether Saunders is going to recruit the right replacements. If six first team regulars are recrutied who make up the core of a good side next season, no one will look back to today with regret except those who have left.
Still, there are players I’ll be sorry to see go, (and not just from a selfish point of view-Mike Williams, Spann, McCluskey and Jones are excellent post-match interviewees!)
Mike Williams is perhaps the man I feel particular sorrow for, He has never let us down and is a flexible defender. With two aging centre backs signed up for next season, one of whom has serious fitness and disciplinary problems, and Mani Assoumani unlikely to re-sign, I’d have thought he’d have been offered handy cover.
I don’t suppose we can be totally shocked that Mark Jones is on the list, but that doesn’t make me feel any less sorry about it. Apart from being Wrexham through-and-through, he had shown better form in the latter stages of the season and might have felt he’d done enough to earn another year. Certainly his performance at Hayes last season was as good as I’d seen from him this season. Admittedly there’s perhaps an element of wishful thinking when I consider his departure; there’s no doubt he has terrific talent, but I suppose I have to be hard-nosed and admit he’s not going to recapture his form of four years ago.
Silvio Spann’s lengthy, successful run at right back must surely have made him think a contract offer was inevitable: perhaps his lack of sustained form over the course of the last three years counted against him; probably his wages were the issue. And then there’s the performance of Declan Walker on Saturday, which must surely have encouraged Saunders to believe that, with him and Kai Edwards on the books, he has adequate cover for Curtis Obeng.
I’m sad to see Wes Baynes go too. He suffered from the fact that we never really worked out the best position for him; was he a full back, striker, attacking midfielder or wing back? I hope we don’t regret the loss of his set pieces, especially as we’ve also let Luke Holden go. I suspect it was Holden’s likelihood to make hot-headed errors which could cost us that led to his release; it’s surely no coincidence that the last we saw of him was his daft sending off for diving.
There was an inevitability about the departure of Sam Williamson, Hedi Taboubi, Jamie McCluskey, Nathan Fairhurst and Matty Wolfenden, although I’d have liked to have seen the latter two given more chances to show what they could do.
It’s interesting to see that four of the released ten are either defenders or holding midfielders when our problem is creativity. Also, bearing in mind Saunders’ suspicion that we’re too lightweight, there are a lot of slight players on that list; only Williams could claim physical presence as an attribute. Let’s hope he’s able to shape a squad that justifies his decisions.