SUPPORTING a team that is rock bottom of the table is a slightly humiliating experience. It is probably akin to being a child, being bottom of the class, and being given a hat with the letter 'D' marked on it.
As such, I think it is amazingly poignant that the first round FA Cup draw paired us with Hereford United - a club that knows everything there is to know, and more, about the rather grim phenomenon of relegation.
I have two friends who are both home-and-away Bulls fans. I remember asking them what they did when the final whistle blew in their tragic, last-ditch fixture against Brighton in 1997. They said they sat down on the Edgar Street terraces and just cried, and cried, and cried.
For Wrexham, relegation to the third division is now a realistic danger. The portents are not fantastic: five straight defeats; the worst disciplinary record in the Football League; a defence that leaks 2.47 goals per game; and a first-team squad that is a mish-mash of temporary signings, loanees, out-of-form first-team regulars, and terribly over-hyped
When Denis Smith arrived at the club, he was quick to say that he relished tough challenges and that his filofax was positively bulging with useful contacts in the football world. Now is the time for him to deliver.
If I was in the new manager's shoes, I would certainly be devising a constructive battleplan to save the Red Dragons from the mire of third division football. And if he'd like some advice, my 10-point "crisis agenda" would read as follows:
1. Exchange Denis Lawrence for a pacey twenty-something centre-half with decent experience at second division level. A Mark McGregor clone would be ideal.
2. Raise some much-needed cash by selling either Darren Ferguson, Lee Trundle or Craig Faulconbridge. Of the three, I feel the ex-Wolves playmaker is now the most expendable - due to his lethargic demeanour and the strange bout of "yellow card fever" he seems to be suffering from at present.
3. Encourage WFC to follow the example of Brentford and other more progressive clubs by slashing admission prices, thus whipping up a high-octane Racecourse atmosphere.
4. Two young keepers is one too many. Dispense with David Walsh - and sign a
Dearden-esque keeper, aged 32, not 22.
5. Do not play Keith Hill and Brian Carey together - they do not have enough pace.
6. Devise some original, or even vaguely effective, set-piece routines.
7. Jettison either Hector Sam or Carlos Edwards. I think it's a luxury for a small, struggling squad to have two extravagant right-sided players who lack genuine consistency.
8. Make Robin Gibson integral to the side.
9. Reconstruct the midfield around Steve Thomas, Jim Whitley and a Vinnie Jones-style hardman-cum-motivator. Ideally, he should be in his mid-20s. He would be bought with the Fergie money.
10. Appoint Whitley club skipper. We need new on-field leadership - and fast.
Smith must be pro-active. He has got to re-model his squad, and by February we have got to be in a decent position to escape.