It was a scary Christmas for Wrexham fans, so let’s hope we’ve got a Happy New Year coming up as compensation. January is already looking like a make-or-break point as we look to correct the issues which leave deep in trouble.
One of the major problems which we face is our awful away form. We have the worst away form in the whole division and it really is difficult to understand why that is the case. After all, our home record over the last few years has been exemplary, and although it has clearly deteriorated this season, it still stands up to scrutiny. However away from home our record is simply appalling.
Our win at Eastleigh Is already beginning to look like an anomaly. Statistically it certainly is. It was our first clean sheet in an away match since we won at Borehamwood in February and our first win away from the Racecourse since we beat Barnet in April. That’s one win in 19, and one clean sheet in 24.
Bus why is this the case? There is no question our defence has become more vulnerable this season, but the fundamental issue Is that they have problems when the defensive line is high. Naturally, in away games it’s not so advanced, because we sit a little deeper to absorb the pressure the home team looks to exert. Therefore, shouldn’t we look more comfortable at the back? We certainly don’t as those clean sheet records suggest.
I’ve kept a record of the man of the match awards which the media team has given the season: I know this is a matter of opinion, and not a concrete statistic, but the list makes interesting reading. Top of the tree is Luke Young, but in equal second place are two goalkeepers, Christian Dibble and Rob Lainton, whom we have made man of the match three times each. That’s nearly one in five of our games where we’ve picked out the goalkeeper for keeping us in the match. That’s not healthy.
We’ve tried three at the back, we’ve tried four at the back. But I guess the real solution is going to be a change of personnel.
So what does Keates need to do to redevelop the squad? After the Sutton game, it felt like he’d have to refresh every area of the team. Certainly, root and branch change is necessary, but we should remember that struggling sides are inconsistent. We have seen dreadful performances like the one against AFC Fylde followed up by back-to-back wins in difficult fixtures.
Also, as I pointed out last week, our record against the top teams is excellent. Clearly there is a team in there, but not enough quality to consistently get results. It’s perfectly feasible that this current squad could get enough good results to hold us out of trouble. However, it’s equally feasible that its erratic nature could lead to relegation. Reinforcements are key and must be substantial.
We’ve been waiting for two months for January, when the squad can be remodelled. Unfortunately we’ll enter that month in a position we didn’t want to be in. We have to get our transfer deals right, and quickly. Keates has done this before and it’s imperative that he pulls this trick off again.