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Flynn ignores rumours to enjoy testimonial

BRIAN FLYNN was adamant. Come Saturday and the opening day visit of Oldham Athletic he will be sitting comfortably in his favourite grandstand seat preparing for his 13th campaign as Wrexham manager.

BRIAN FLYNN was adamant. Come Saturday and the opening day visit of Oldham Athletic he will be sitting comfortably in his favourite grandstand seat preparing for his 13th campaign as Wrexham manager.

Two late Wrexham goals that denied a star-studded Manchester United team in a testimonial to mark the 12-year Racecourse residence of Flynn and assistant Kevin Reeves should have been an uplifting experience.

But whether this tribute from United manager Sir Alex Ferguson turns out to be a watershed in the life and times of Flynn and Reeves at Wrexham remains to be seen.

For a club that has always done its best to avoid controversy (and usually succeeded), something has gone seriously wrong at Wrexham this summer.

Awkward questions into the granting of work permits for their three Trinidad and Tobago players, with a whiff of political scandal in the air, were merely the tip of a summer iceberg.

Cue a boardroom power-struggle and the unceremonious departure of director Geoff Farrell, who was said to be a good friend of Flynn and Reeves. Players then complained of not receiving their wages on time, and only last week the plug was pulled on a move for Manchester City midfielder Jim Whitley after Flynn had gone public on the transfer - a sure sign he thought the deal was done.

One newspaper report on Saturday morning, ironically penned by a journalist named Ferguson, went as far as to suggest that Flynn was on the verge of walking out of Wrexham.

But with a contract that has 12 months left to run, plus the option of another two years, it is almost unthinkable that Flynn would jump ship. Unless, of course, he succeeds a certain Scotsman who is shelving managerial duties at the end of the season.

"I've just spoken to Sir Alex to see if he would say that he's going to groom me to become the next United manager," joked Flynn, no doubt realising that questions about his future were heading his way.

Quizzed about reports that he was poised to leave, Flynn said, "It dumbfounds me. They don't upset me because I know they're not true.

"Players know what's going on but unfortunately fans do read these things and think they are correct.

"But it doesn't concern me. My job is to get the first team right and win games. Yeah, there are certain things that I prefer not to happen, without a doubt. But we have to get on with it and look forward to the new season."

What should have been an occasion of celebration to mark a diligent and fruitful partnership was also diminished by a feeble attendance of 7,614 and some churlish behaviour towards Ryan Giggs, United captain-for-the-day with Roy Keane otherwise engaged in another Reds' friendly at Hereford.

Ferguson might have helped Flynn and Reeves by announcing a team laced with household names a few days earlier, but it was still a poor response from the North Wales soccer public given the United manager's gesture in sending a team across the border.

Some home fans who were in attendance at a half-empty Race-course Ground then let club and country down further by booing Giggs's every touch during one of his return trips to Wales.

Giggs, who was withdrawn at half-time, admitted he had been disappointed by the reaction, said Ferguson.

On the pitch, both sides hinted at successful seasons ahead with plenty of crisp passing and intelligent movement.

Prompted by Ferguson's son, Darren, Wrexham were not over-awed by their illustrious guests and Lee Trundle - who will be sorely missed when he serves a four-game suspension at the start of the season - and Wayne Phillips forced new United goalkeeper Roy Carroll into goal-line saves.

Giant defender Dennis Lawrence, now officially the tallest player in the Football League at 6ft 7in, also headed over, but United's threat was growing and young goalkeeper Kristian Rogers had to push out Juan Sebastian Veron's well-struck volley.

Goaded by unfamiliar taunts of "Are you Chester in disguise?", United moved through the gears, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer burst on to Veron's 31st-minute pass to advance towards Rogers and finish in style.

Veron, one of the constants in an ever-changing cast, then produced an even more sublime piece of skill with a curling 58th-minute free-kick that would have given the absent David Beckham food for thought.

United had made eight substitutions by the final 10 minutes, but Wrexham's fightback was no less deserving for that.

Stephen Thomas's 30-yard rasper drew an admiring reaction from Ferguson, and Andy Morrell ensured parity with a header two minutes from time before substitute Kevin Russell clattered the United crossbar.

"It was a particularly nice ending on a day that myself and Kevin will never forget," said Flynn.

Sadly, it was a day when the pair deserved more.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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