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HAPPY New Year? You must be kidding. Macclesfield's 3-1 victory at the Racecourse was a catastrophic blow to the Dragons' promotion hopes.

HAPPY New Year? You must be kidding. Macclesfield's 3-1 victory at the Racecourse was a catastrophic blow to the Dragons' promotion hopes.

It wasn't just the result that was bad, but the performance. Wrexham were disjointed, lackadaisical, careless and mistake-ridden for the full 90 minutes. It was a disastrous display that did not bode well for the rest of 2003.

At the moment, Wrexham are making so many individual errors it is almost comical. At Rochdale, Rogers made a couple of high-profile bloopers and Carey gave away a penalty. Against Macc, Pejic scored an own goal and Dibble messed up in his own box late on to gift the visitors a third, decisive goal. Cut out the mistakes and we could have a chance.

Simultaneously, the Reds are making a habit of conceding lightening quick goals. At Spotland, they went 1-0 down only seconds into the game; then on Wednesday, they slipped 2-1 behind almost as soon as the referee had blown to start play after the interval. Is there a pattern developing here? Why is the back line so slow at getting into gear at the beginning of halves?

The capitulation against the Silkmen just added to Wrexham's abject record at home. In the last nine games at the Racecourse, the Reds have lost five and failed to score in six. Why is this so? And why haven't Smith and Russell worked out how to break teams down when they arrive in North Wales looking for a point?

There are more problems. It now looks likely that the supposedly "indispensable" Ferguson will have missed six league games by late January due to various suspensions. He's a key player and stand-in skipper - is this really acceptable?

Smith is regularly quoted in the press saying that he is "spoilt for choice" at centre-back, but at present the middle of the back line is the major cause for concern. Macclesfield are a fairly pedestrian third division outfit, but on New Year's Day they were piercing the heart of the Reds defence almost effortlessly.

And finally, there is the manager himself. No-one doubts that he is honest, determined and hardworking, and a top bloke to boot. But can he really deliver on promotion? He didn't save the club from relegation last year and by the time he travels with his players to Boston a week on Saturday, his side could have fallen into the bottom half of the table.

Which makes it slightly perverse that he has just been offered a two-year extension to his contract at the Racecourse - a deal he has swiftly accepted.

Mr Guterman should definitely reward success, but at the moment - with Wrexham 11th in the bottom division and looking for all the world like a team in crisis - Smith's reign has brought none to speak of. What is more, some supporters are getting restless.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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