It’s felt on the cards since Dean Keates returned and Macclesfield’s sad collapse worsened. The reunion of Jay Harris and Dean Keates, the fierce heart of Wrexham’s best side since we were demoted from League One, has finally happened.
As morale-boosting transfers go, this is about as good as it gets without crossing over into the crazy transfer speculation certain corners of the internet specialise in. Okay, he’ll be 33 in two and a half months, but since leaving us he’s been playing at a much higher level than we’ve managed this season. He might not be as nippy as he was, but he’ll add some valuable bite in the middle of the pitch. Fire has no age limit.
Two key points I’ve been hammering home annoyingly since Keates has returned: he does his research before signing a player; and he values character in his squad.
Keates will know the level Harris is currently achieving; he wouldn’t have used a chunk of our budget on him otherwise. In our last two games it seems the team has rediscovered its heart, and Keates knows Harris is the closest he can get to a version of himself on the pitch, demanding nothing but high standards and total effort from those around him. With Shaun Pearson’s mojo appearing to be back, there’ll be a few players leaving the pitch with earache when those two are playing together!
It’ll be interesting to see just how Harris’ arrival will affect Keates’ strategy. The consistency of the side which was in the play-offs when Keates left has coloured our tactical recollection of his tactics. In his first season with us he experimented with different formations, and in a similar situation this time round, he has switched strategy quite frequently as he has sought a formula which makes the most of what he’s got.
However, Harris arrives just as Keates has seemed to fashion his side into a working unit. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to bring him in – far from it! However, it means he might not be thrown straight into the side. If his international clearance comes through for tomorrow, will Keates disrupt a winning team to accommodate him? Luke Summerfield would be highly unfortunate to lose his place to him after two fine back-to-back performances, and Luke Young is surely undroppable.
There may come a point when Keates changes shape again. If he does, a midfield trio of Harris, Summerfield and Young looks like a solid base for the likes of Jarvis and Hooper. They’d certainly be a hard unit to boss around, and possibly the foundations for something more ambitious next season.