DEAN SAUNDERS believes failing to win every pre-season friendly has its positives.
Wrexham slumped to a 2-0 defeat against League Two outfit Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road on Saturday after conceding two goals in a poor first half performance.
And while disappointed not to have notched up another victory in the build up to the new Conference campaign, Saunders is not overly concerned.
“If you win every game like we did last year it sort of papers over the cracks a little bit,” said Saunders. “There are things that you don’t necessarily notice.
“I would rather notice little things now so I can put them right for the start of the season. Little things like we are a bit short in certain areas I can do something about it now before we start.”
Wrexham struggled to cope with Crewe’s neat build-up play but Saunders knows his side will not encounter that kind of football on a regular basis when the new season begins on August 14.
“There were no injuries which was the main thing and it was a good fitness exercise,” said Saunders. “I thought we played some good football at times but gave the ball away and there were too many mistakes.
“The first goal was a mistake and the second goal was a quick free-kick but a mistake from us. We are not quite sharp enough yet.
“We had enough half chances without making their goalkeeper pull saves off. But second half we did well.
“And we won’t be coming up against that type of football which is just linking through midfield. What we will come up against is teams sitting back like in the second half where we have got a bit more movement to get in behind their back four,”
Saunders refused to blame young right-back Declan Walker after both goals originated from his flank.
“Trigger is only 18 and for all his endeavour, the two goals ended up from down that side,” said Saunders. “He is learning all the time.
“The first one he has let the lad come back inside him and he has bent it in the far corner. He has just got to keep him going away from the goal on his left foot.
“And the second one he just switched off a bit, the free-kick went over his head and got headed back into the middle of the goal.
“But he is 18 and has done great, better than I thought he would. It is difficult to criticise him but I am better off finding these things out now because we have got to go into the season and we need men.”
Saunders was pleased with the contribution of striker Andy Mangan who has shed weight in his bid to hit top form for Wrexham.
“I thought Andy looked lively,” said Saunders. “He lashed a couple over the bar, on another day they might have gone in.
“He looks quick, he has lost weight and he looks a lot sharper than he did at the end of last season so I am pleased with him.
“David Brown came on and put a couple of nice through-balls through. He has got a bit of creative class.
“Dean Keates showed his experience again and he can run the game.”
Saunders once again fielded Dean Keates and Jay Harris in the middle of midfield.
While the duo are both less than six foot, both players gave their all but Saunders knows a lack of height could be a problem against some Conference teams.
“It wasn’t an issue today because Crewe played the ball along the floor and tried to pass through us,” he said.
“But obviously in the football we are going to come up against, it is a concern.
“But sometimes it is what is inside your shirt that counts. If you want to get to the ball, sometimes a little fellow will get there before a big one with no heart.
“The two of them have got hearts and they don’t shirk a challenge. We have got Christian Smith as well and I have got to make a decision on Jamie Tolley which will depend on what I can do money-wise, shuffle things around.”
Working on a reduced budget, Saunders accepts he has got very little money left and as well as looking to bring in a midfielder, he hopes to add another centre-back to his squad.
But Saunders has so far been thwarted in his bid to sign a defender from a higher league on a season long loan deal: “I am just waiting for him not to get picked at the club he is at, then we might have a chance of getting him,” he said. “But at the minute he is playing.”
Saunders also gave midfielder Danny Racchi, without a club after he was released by Bury at the end of last season, a second half run-out.
But whether he decides to recruit 22-year-old, who has also played for Huddersfield Town, depends on whether he can loan players out.
“It was short notice and I gave him a run-out but it depends on how much money I have got,” added Saunders. “That is what all these things decide on.
“I might have to loan a few out to get some money in.”