FORMER Premier League players have cautioned Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, owners of Wrexham Football Club, against signing aging and high-profile players, warning them to avoid turning the club into a “circus.” Reynolds and McElhenney purchased Wrexham in February 2021 and have since revitalized the club, leading them to win the National League title and secure promotion after a 15-year absence from the English Football League.
Amidst their promotion, Wrexham has been linked with several notable names, including Gareth Bale, the former Real Madrid and Wales star whom Reynolds and McElhenney attempted to entice out of retirement. In addition, former Wales forward Hal Robson-Kanu and ex-Blackburn and Norway midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen, who is now 41 years old, have expressed their interest in joining Wrexham following their promotion to the fourth tier.
However, former Wrexham defender Neil Taylor, who began his senior career at the club and went on to play for Swansea, Aston Villa, and Wales, has advised the owners to exercise caution in their player recruitment strategy. Taylor emphasized the importance of maintaining the focus on success and not turning the club into a spectacle. He suggested avoiding signing players who are past their prime and instead opting for individuals who are familiar with the league and have a proven track record of success.
Taylor highlighted the challenges of lower league football, asserting that the intensity, number of games, travel, and the nature of the grounds can make it even tougher than playing at higher levels. He believes that Wrexham should focus on players who understand these challenges and possess the hunger to move up the ranks.
Looking ahead to the next season in League Two, Taylor predicts that Wrexham will mount another strong promotion challenge. He commended the current squad, which includes top scorer Paul Mullin, Ollie Palmer, Elliot Lee, and captain Ben Tozer, for their extensive experience playing in the English Football League. Taylor expressed optimism about Wrexham’s future, stating that the team is already well-equipped to perform well in League Two and expects them to strengthen their squad further during the summer.
Furthermore, Taylor emphasized the allure of Wrexham for players in League One and League Two, highlighting the club’s brand and commercial value. He cited the example of Paul Mullin, who transitioned from Tranmere to Wrexham and achieved success, even releasing a book. Taylor believes that the club’s reputation will attract agents who will strive to bring their players to Wrexham. However, he urged caution in player selection, reminding the owners that Wrexham’s appeal is second to none below the Championship.
Reflecting on his own experience, Taylor recalled Wrexham’s decline after being relegated from the English Football League in 2008 when he was just 19. He expressed his admiration for McElhenney and Reynolds, recognizing their impact on the football club and the wider community. The promotion brought forth emotions for Taylor, who holds a deep connection to the club and its long-standing supporters.
As Wrexham prepares for life in League Two, the advice from former Premier League players serves as a reminder for the club’s owners to carefully navigate player recruitment and balance the aspirations of success with the need for stability. With a ready-made squad and the potential to attract talented players, Wrexham aims to continue its upward trajectory, making a mark in the English Football League.