WREXHAM manager Denis Smith has told his players to ignore the reaction from the media and supporters following the 3-1 home defeat by Third Division Huddersfield Town at the Racecourse on Saturday.
Carlos Edwards cancelled out Tony Carss' opener, but second-half goals from Jon Stead and Andy Booth secured victory for the Terriers against a below-par Wrexham side.
But the Dragons' boss, in a philosophical mood after the final pre-season friendly, said he would not let the loss affect his side's build-up to the new Division Two campaign, which kicks off with a sell-out home clash against Chesterfield on Saturday.
He said: 'I think I could have predicted this result beforehand. We are tired of friendlies and just want to get into the new season, whereas Huddersfield have come out of administration and came here with a great deal to fight for.
'I told the players in the dressing room afterwards, not to read the papers or look at the websites. It was not about winning and I don't want any of them to be upset at any adverse criticism coming from this game.
'I have been having this argument with a few people for a couple of weeks now. These games are purely to prepare us for the Second Division.
'From my point of view, I've got to make sure my lads are ready for Saturday. The real work starts next week and I've been telling everyone that.'
Smith certainly didn't pick a team to win the game, omitting captain Darren Ferguson, wing-back Paul Edwards and strikers Chris Armstrong and Lee Jones from his starting lineup and giving utility player Jim Whit-ley a complete rest.
The Wrexham boss added: 'I wasn't picking a team to win the game, I was picking a team based on those who needed a game.
'We've done well in our pre-season games, but that's precisely what those games were - pre-season. They're all about getting players fit for the new season, and it's a very long season.
'But the team spirit is excellent. I'm really pleased with that. All the lads are playing together and helping one another. At the moment, we look a good side but you can't really measure that against other sides until the season begins.'
However, Smith is playing his selection cards close to his chest ahead of Saturday's big Division Two opener.
'Next week we'll start working on things and it won't be the same starting line-up next Saturday,' he said. 'I know in my own mind what my best team is, but I'm the only person who does, so far. I've already decided on my starting line-up, but I have not told anybody - not Rooster or even my wife!' Reds fans are likely to see Wrexham's new-look strike force of Chris Armstrong and Chris Llewellyn play their first competitive game as a partnership as Smith looks to rebuild his side after the summer departures of Andy Morrell, Lee Trundle, Scott Green, Wayne Phillips, Kristian Rogers and Dan Bennett.
And 19-year-old Matty Crowell, a close season signing from Southampton, has added a fresh dimension to the midfield, while youngsters Craig Morgan and Mark Jones have also been promoted to the senior squad.
And with Whitley, Brian Carey and Paul Edwards all penning new deals, Wrexham have enjoyed an impressive pre-season, beating ex-Premiership side West Bromwich Albion 2-0 and narrowly losing to Rushden and Diamonds in the final of the Isle of Man Trophy.
But despite the club's progress, chairman Mark Guterman has advised caution and has warned fans that the club will not not chase short-term success on the field at the expense of Wrexham's long-term survival.
He said: 'We've got to be sensible about what we are trying to achieve, but we are also optimistic about the future and we genuinely believe we can challenge for honours again this season.
'We have brought in a budget which means we have a smaller squad of players - by one - than last year, but within that budget we have tried to give the manager as much support as we can.'
Nevertheless, despite both the chairman and the manager's caution, there is a definite buzz among Wrexham supporters ahead of the new season.
Nick Edney, a 23-year-old fitness instructor, said: 'I think it's a really exciting time for the fans. Smith has signed two quality strikers in Armstrong and Llewellyn and I think that will encourage people to go and see the games.'
And Caroline Wellock, 42, from Ruabon, added: 'I've been a Wrexham fan all my life, and I'm as excited about this season as any other I can remember. I don't think we'll win the league, but with the players we've brought in, hopefully, we can surprise some people with the standard of football we play, starting with Chesterfield!'
Wrexham AFC's first six Division Two fixtures:
* Saturday, August 9 - Chesterfield (h)
* Saturday, August 16 - Notts County (a)
* Saturday, August, 23 - Brentford (h)
* Monday, August 25 - Sheffield Wednesday (a)
* Saturday, August 30 - Bournemouth (h)
* Saturday, September 6 - Blackpool (a)
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