Managing Exectations

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c)


Every now and then following a football club week in and week out throws up one of those wonderful moments that makes all the tough times worthwhile. Last Saturday certainly provided one of those. It was enough to even make you forget the craziness at the other end of the pitch, for a few minutes at least!

Bradley Reid’s first goal for Wrexham was one of those marvellous explosive moments of elation that compensates you for the hours you’ve spent sitting in traffic jams on the M62. It was a great finish, digging the ball out when it didn’t quite up for him to plant it first time in the top corner. It was also crucial in the context of the match, giving us a late lead in a game we’d worked hard to get on top of after taking a bit of a beating for the first hour

But most important was to see what it meant to him. He’s a Wrexham fan through and through, and it was great to see him go crazy when he scored for the club he loves, dancing down the goal line, enjoying the delirium on the away terrace, before his team mates buried him in a mass celebration.

My instinct is to resist the desire to get too excited over a young player as I’ve seen so many dazzle us with their early promise but fail to kick on and develop but Reid is exciting. It’s not just his ability, but his enthusiasm is infectious. I suppose it helps that he’s a fan of the club, as he clatters around, pressuring defenders like he’s jumped off the terrace to represent the passion of the fans behind the goal. There was even something to enjoy about the booking he picked up on Saturday, jumping into his man almost to show him that he wasn’t going to back down.

I’m particularly encouraged by his apparent ability to learn. He made a substitute appearance at the end of last season which caught the eye, but I was reluctant to get too carried away then as for all his energy he’d shown a certain naïveté.

You sensed he’d looked to replicate the tactics which had brought him such success at youth team level but found that hard-nosed professional defenders were less obliging than the inexperienced players he’d beaten consistently. In the next game he came on again and looked to have learned from the experience. He made the same runs, but there was an end product this time as he released the ball a little earlier and would continue his run to stay involved in the move.

He’ll have to manage high expectations and maybe curb his enthusiasm a touch. He  hasn’t completed ninety minutes in a match yet, but in one start and six substitute appearances he’s got two yellow cards already. Perhaps he’s going to challenge Jay Harris, who is on course to achieve something remarkable: getting himself suspended for the Chester game by being booked in our first five games! Still, Harris’s isn’t a bad example to follow!

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