MARK CREIGHTON says Wrexham supporters deserve better than the "absolute garbage" they were served last season - and he is backing Dean Keates to revive the Reds' fortunes.

The Reds endured the worst campaign in the club's history in 2019-20, eventually finishing one point above the National League drop zone in 20th season when the season ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Keates returned for a second spell as manager in October and he is now preparing for a 13th season in non-league.

But although Wrexham narrowly avoided relegation to the sixth tier, Creighton believes former team-mate Keates can turn things around and feels a play-off place should be the minimum target despite the failings last term.

"Let's be honest, there was only one positive about last season and that is that the club stayed up," said Creighton.

"The rest of it was absolute garbage, it was a shambles. I am sure everyone can hold their hand up and say it was not good enough.

"Whether that is down to the players, staff, coaching or board level, whatever it is, it needs fixing.

"I know Dean very well and he will not be happy with what happened last year.

"He will want to improve on last year, that's a given, and I know he will work really hard to put that right.

"I think it has got to be play-offs minimum."

Wrexham have a proud history but Creighton, who first arrived at The Racecourse in November 2010 and was forced to retire whilst a Reds' player due to injury three years later, says there is no getting away from the fact they are now an established non-league club.

And the 38-year-old says those very fans that adored him during his successful stint with the club deserve better.

"A club the size of Wrexham needs to be in the Football League; that's a fact. They have got to figure out how they are going to do it," said Creighton.

"They have got to get there at some point because otherwise it is just a stalemate.

"I know the club will always be sustainable because of the backing from the fans, and that is unbelievable.

"But ultimately, the fans deserve better and deserve to be in the Football League.

"Wrexham don't deserve to be in the Conference on a stature basis, but they 100 per cent deserve to be there on performance, so they need to pull together now and put things right.

"It is about restructuring the club now and getting the right players in with the right mentality, and trying to stick together and sing off one hymn sheet."

Creighton is confident that Keates can turn Wrexham into promotion contenders following an impressive summer on the recruitment front.

The Reds' boss has revamped his squad, allowing a number of players to leave The Racecourse to make room for 11 new signings.

And it is the quality of those arrivals that leaves Creighton buoyant about Wrexham's chances.

"Dean has had a massive overhaul of his squad which I think we are all being honest in saying that was required," said Creighton.

"There were some bits of deadwood there that needed moving on.

"From what I have seen so far, Dean seems to have recruited very well to be fair to him. On paper he has done a great job this summer.

"He has brought in some strong players, some players who know the level and have been successful at the level which is always key.

"He seems to be building quite a powerful squad as well."

Striker Adi Yussuf is among the new arrivals, coming in on a season-loan loan from League One side Blackpool.

A prolific spell with Solihull Moors in 2018-19, when he helped the Damson Park outfit finish runners-up, helped earn Yussuf his move to The Seasiders.

But Creighton was an admirer long before that.

"I really like Adi," said Creighton.

"I tried to sign him from Gloucester with Gary Whild when we were at Kidderminster but we couldn't get him.

"But I have kept an eye on him ever since and he is a big, powerful centre-forward which is exactly what you need at this level."

Creighton is equally as impressed with Keates' business at the other end of the pitch.

"I have seen a lot of left-back Jamie Reckord and like him," said Creighton.

"I often went to watch Solihull because Tim Flowers is a good mate and Jamie is decent; he is a proper athlete and a winner, which is exactly what Dean needs in that dressing room.

"He needs a bunch of winners who will be prepared to do whatever it takes to win games of football."

Wrexham have enjoyed their fair share of clean sheets in recent years and it is finding a 20-goal striker that Creighton says is key to the Reds' chances of returning to the Football League.

Only two players - Jake Speight and Louis Moult - have reached that feat since Wrexham were relegated to the Conference in 2008.

Speight is the only one of the deadly duo who reached the 20-goal mark in the league alone while Wrexham haven't had anyone reach double figures for the last two seasons.

Prolific scorers don't come cheap but Creighton knows they are worth every penny.

"Unfortunately they cost a lot of money," said Creighton. "I got in trouble years ago for saying you have got to speculate to accumulate but ultimately I was right.

"Unless you spend the money to buy a striker that will put the ball in the net, you aren't going to put the ball in the net.

"It still stands strong my opinion on that.

"You can be lucky and get a decent loan in from a club higher up but ultimately if the lads are decent enough, they are not going to loan them to you.

"You have got to spend money on a decent striker at this level. As long as it is affordable, you have to pay them what they want because that is what gets you promoted.

"Clean sheets have not been an issue in a long time at Wrexham. The club has been blessed with some decent defenders and goalkeepers that have done what they are there to do.

"But it is putting the ball in the net at the other end which has cost them."

Speight's 21 goals during the 2011-12 campaign helped Wrexham challenge for automatic promotion.

The Reds finished the season with a club record 98 points but were pipped to the title by big-spending Fleetwood Town and Andy Morrell’s men lost to Luton in the play-off semi-finals.

Although Lee Fowler and Curtis Obeng were snapped-up by other clubs and were a loss, Creighton, a mainstay of Morrell's defence, felt more fire-power to ease the burden on Speight was needed to help Wrexham finish the job off when it came to the business end of the season.

"One of the things that stands out in my mind that season is that come the January transfer window, I would loved us to have bought another striker," said Creighton.

"At that moment in time, Danny Wright and Speighty did go through a bit of a barren spell of hitting the net.

"It was at that period where I thought that's where we could have maybe strengthened.

"Spend some money on another striker, give another edge to us and take some pressure off Danny and Speighty to score the goals because they had been amazing all season but they had that spell where they couldn't hit the net.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing but another option up top and it might have got us over the line, even though I would loved us to have kept Fowls and Curtis, because I think we would have had a much stronger chance of going up in those circumstances.

"They did leave big holes."