Carl Darlington: This is a chance to modernise Wrexham AFC


Tom Norris

CARL DARLINGTON is relishing the challenge of modernising Wrexham Football Club – but has called for patience as plans are put in place.

Darlington made a long awaited return to The Racecourse yesterday as first team coach to manager Dean Keates with the task of moulding Wrexham into promotion challengers.

Keates worked hard to improve the club’s off-field structure after he replaced Gary Mills last season, but there is plenty of work still to be done, none more pressing than building a team good enough to win Wrexham promotion.

And Darlington can’t wait to get started on his return to The Racecourse, where he spent time coaching under former boss Kevin Wilkin.

“It’s great news,” said an excited Darlington, who left Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints last week. “I met with Keatesy and the board and what they had to say was very interesting. I needed a new challenge.

“The positive with the club where it is at the moment is that we can bring in the players we want to bring in, while the negative is that it will take time to gel the team together.

“We need people to be patient as we try to modernise the club behind the scenes. We want to get things right and that means putting plans in place.

“We are starting from scratch. When I was here last time we started putting things in place in terms of sports science and now I am back here it doesn’t exist, so we need to build relationships back up.”

The cynics will argue that finding the right players is more important than video analysis and making sure the team are eating the correct food.

But first team coach Darlington insists that all the details, however, big or small, are important to helping a football team succeed.

“We want to be as well-run and efficient as we possibly can be,” continued Darlington who will combine his role at Wrexham with his head of coach education for the Football Association of Wales.

“For me, sports science and video analysis is absolutely critical. It is important to look at the opposition and their strengths and weaknesses.

“The video won’t lie, it will tell us what the opposition are doing and it also allows us to develop how we play.

“Dean has done some fantastic work last season by getting things in place and it is important that the players are prepared properly.

“Fans will look at a player and expect them to perform at their best every single game and by fitness testing and managing them in every way we can, we can give them the best chance to reach those levels.”

There is plenty of work to be done by Keates, Darlington, Andy Davies and Dan Nolan before the first ball of the 2017/18 season is kicked, but the former TNS coach can’t wait.

“I’m delighted to be back and I can’t wait for that first home game of the season,” said Wrexham fan Darlington. “With myself and Andy there are two Wrexham through and through in the dugout and in Dean there is a man who was both a fantastic captain and has the club’s best interests at heart.

“We are preparing a pre-season plan and putting things in place ready for the season, but it is absolutely key that we get patience in the short term.”

And Darlington pointed to the football played by The New Saints, double winners this season having won back-to-back trebles before that, as reasons to be optimistic.

“It was the right time to leave,” said Darlington. “But everything was right there at TNS and it showed what can be achieved.

“We played attacking football on the front foot with plenty of goals scored. Last season we scored over 100 goals in 32 games and we set a world record of consecutive wins.

“Then there was the Champions League campaign. We played Apoel Nicosia, who reached the last 16 of the Europa League. We drew with them at home and lost away, but the first goal was a deflection.

“I want to help create that winning mentality at Wrexham.”

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