Here’s my column from this 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) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
Wrexham’s board took the right choice last week when they decided that Andy Davies should take the club through until the end of the season.
His appointment ensures a level of continuity which should be our priority at the moment. Dean Keates set us on the right path, in conjunction with Davies and Carl Darlington, and finishing what was started over the Summer is what is required.
Davies has come through the FAW system, earning his coaching badges, and therefore is more qualified to take on the task than any number of candidates for the manager’s job suggested by the media, the bookies and fans. We need to avoid the tiresome gravy train of ex-players who, regardless of their lack of coaching credentials, success as a manager or football philosophy, are constantly trotted out as ideal candidates because they’ve achieved fame as a player or fulfil that most disheartening of criteria: knowledge of non-league football.
I know the circumstances were different but Andy Morrell, the man who came closest to leading us to promotion to the Football League, was also an internal appointment after an unexpectedly abrupt change of manager. He was intelligent enough to see that Dean Saunders had laid sound foundations, and opted for continuity rather than looking to disrupt a successful side.
For the same reasons, Davies is unlikely to make major alterations, and what we’ve so far has been more of the same. We ground out a characteristic battling win last Saturday, and the weekend before we put in an impressive performance at Woking which ought to have ended in victory.
Plenty of observers felt they detected a shift in emphasis at Woking, as we dominated the game in a manner which was probably only matched by the 4-0 win over Torquay last December. However, this wasn’t a change of approach: we were dominant because Woking were poor and we were able to impose ourselves.
Since January, Keates had been looking to inject an element of creativity into a side which has been built from the back. Scott Quigley, Simon Ainge, Jonathan Franks and Nicky Deverdics were all brought in to add something to the side going forwards, and there has been an increase in attacking productivity. We’ve failed to score in two of thirteen games since the opening of the transfer window, compared to 2017 when we couldn’t hit the opposing side’s net in 10 games out of 28.
At the end of December Keates also started using Chris Holroyd on the left, allowing him to field an extra striker in an attempt to boost our goal threat. So the idea of injecting more attacking threat into the side is nothing new. Davies and Darlington are merely continuing the evolution of the side.
This is hardly surprising. Remember that, even when Keates was manager, Darlington was taking the lead when it came to coaching and tactics. We were hardly likely to see any strategic trees being uprooted by the man who planted them.
So Davies has the task of finishing what the management team started in the Summer. Wouldn’t it be terrific if, having scrolled through all sorts of managerial options, the guy who finally takes us out of the National League was a caretaker manager who was here all along?
Our matches against Bromley so far have been determined by home advantage. We’ve beaten them in all three home games, but were defeated both times we travelled to Hayes Lane.
It’s a shame we won’t be able to call on Ntumba Massanka’s services tomorrow as Bromley were certainly his favourite opponents. He’s our top scorer in this fixture, with four goals to his credit despite only spending 108 minutes on the pitch against The Ravens.
His strike rate of a goal every 27 minutes against Bromley stands in contrast to the rest of his Wrexham career, as he scored two goals in 2165 minutes in all other matches for us, at a rate of over a thousand minutes per goal! That’s the equivalent of a goal every 12 games.
Last season he played his part in a dramatic late season match. We trailed 2-0 at half time, and Bromley added another just after the restart, but Jordan White pulled a goal back seven minutes after the break, and Dean Keates immediately made a double substitution, bringing on Massanka and Izale McLeod as he threw caution to the wind.
Massanka scored four minutes after his introduction, but Keates was dealt a further blow when Olly Marx had to go off as he was affected by the unseasonal heat, forcing Mark Carrington to fill in at centre back. Bromley grabbed a fourth, but Massanka hit his second with four minutes left to set up a grandstand finish.
We’re unbeaten in 15 league matches, the 6th longest unbeaten league run in our history. If we avoid defeat at Bromley it will be our 4th longest unbeaten league run.
Shaun Pearson plays his 375th career match today, while James Jennings plays his 50th game for Wrexham.