No Wrexham player could be surprised to see the departures begin to mount up this week, but the identities of a couple of the players who have gone might give them pause for thought. When Kai Edwards and Jordan Evans left yesterday, any doubt that Dean Keates will make the necessary tough choices to reshape his squad were removed.
There were plenty of players in the squad who were clearly candidates for the chop, and there can be little surprise in most of the departures. Tyler Harvey and Nortei Nortey had been shipped out on loan having simply not looked up to the job, and while I quite liked the work rate of Shaun Harrad and suspected he was hampered by a lack of supply, the fact is that two goals in fourteen league starts simply wasn’t good enough for an out-and-out striker.
It would seem that Jordan Evans and Gerry McDonagh left because the terms of proposed new deals were beyond what we were willing to pay. In both cases I’m inclined to see it how Keates must do. McDonagh was showing encouraging signs of improvement, but he’s still a young lad who would probably be used as back-up if Keates was able to successfully repopulate his front line. If he could stay on the existing terms, I’d be very happy to keep him, but if his parent club don’t think that will help his development and put a higher price on him, I’d look elsewhere. The whole idea of a “favour” to a pal is the sort of culture we’re looking to get away from since Keates took over, after all.
Likewise Evans clearly has something, and I’d have liked to see him continue at the club, not least because he stated he’d like to stay. The sticking point appears to be the wage he was offered – in essence a small wage reduction which would translate as a pay rise in real terms across the course of his contract because he’d be paid over the Summer months.
Once he decided to push for more, Keates was right to look elsewhere. He was worth keeping, but had he done enough to earn an improved contract? Admittedly, he’s played a lot out of position at left back, but still, he’s had a rough ride there, not least at Southport last weekend. With limited wriggle room financially, Keates wisely chose to see if he could redeploy the cash elsewhere.
Edwards’ departure, along with Evans’, shows that Keates will make swift, ruthless decisions to move things on. Edwards has started every match under Keates apart from last Sunday’s when he was unfit, but he’s gone. Admittedly, that was partly because he wanted to play at centre back, a position he was badly exposed in at Tranmere. Keates was right to refuse that request, and was ruthless in his consideration of what to do next. He could have insisted he stayed on until his contract expired, but Edwards has drawbacks at right back despite his enthusiasm. He’s uncomfortable when exposed to direct-running wingers, and bringing the ball forwards is not his natural game, which is an issue when a side plays with a diamond as the full-backs have to push on.
So Keates took the ruthless decision, and that will surely resonate in the squad. Players who have been regulars under him – the only match Evans didn’t start under Keates was the Stamford replay, when he came off the bench and had his best game for us – have been allowed to leave. Perhaps others who might feel secure in their place might look at that and realise that Keates wasn’t kidding when he said only 100% commitment will earn a contract from him.