So, how are we feeling?
It’s difficult to imagine a greater sense of excitement at the start of the season. Perhaps it’s more of a sense of expectation, and any long-suffering Wrexham fan would agree that expectation is not a word we’d normally use.
Sure, I’ve felt hopeful on the eve of a new campaign. As recently as last Summer I looked at the likes of Paul Mullin, Ben Tozer, Aaron Hayden and James Jones and was excited by the thought of such players propelling us to promotion.
However, there was also a nagging awareness that the squad wasn’t complete yet. The slamming down of the transfer window had curtailed our progress.
Now the optimism has been replaced by something closer to certainty. After one transfer window, Phil Parkinson constructed a side with a great deal of talent. After two, he had put together an eleven which was plainly the best in the division. Now, having had three bursts of transfer activity, he has delivered the strength in depth we lacked last season.
We finished the last campaign like a train, but were derailed by a couple of key injuries just short of our destination. Now, we have a squad which ought to be able to ride out any leaves in the track.
Let’s imagine we field last Saturday’s line-up against Eastleigh. That would mean, injuries permitting, that we’d have to pick four outfield players from a remarkable range of talent. Jordan Tunnicliffe and Harry Lennon are ready to step in at the back; Jacob Mendy, Reece Hall-Johnson, Bryce Hosannah and Liam McAlinden can cover our wing-backs; Eliot Lee, Jordan Davies offer creative options; Sam Dalby and Dior Angus are in reserve up front.
That’s why I have that unusual sense of expectation. I assume it’s how Bayern Munich fans feel in early August.
Of course, it’s not going to be straightforward. Teams won’t just look at the team sheet and roll over. I particularly like the transfer business Solihull Moors did in the last couple of months, and they finished the season superbly only to miss out in the play-off final.
They deserve our respect, but there’s no need to fear them, or anyone else. If their transfer business has been good, how would you describe ours?
Our passing and movement has been crisp throughout pre-season, and ironically something which didn’t quite work gave me a genuine reason to be pleased with our preparatory work on the training ground.
Anthony Forde is a terrific signing: a high quality, versatile player who will be of great use in higher divisions. He made his first appearance in a Wrexham shirt just one day after signing for us, and immediately showed his quality.
I couldn’t help noticing that there were a couple of times early in the game when he passed the ball inside from his right wing back position and took up a supporting position. His team mates immediately gestured to him that he needed to get higher up the pitch instead.
The reason this pleased me was it showed how well grooved the squad is to what Parkinson is asking of them. He has developed a clear pattern of play, which the squad have been able to become fully accustomed to. It has become second nature to carry out these automatic movements in certain parts of the pitch, and when a player isn’t familiar with them, tuition arrives swiftly.
I found that terrifically heartening. The team knows what is expected of it, absorbs the methodology of the manager, and is a well-oiled unit. We’re organised, we’re ready, and we’re expecting a lot.
Hang onto your hats: this should be fun!