Two megastars from the glitzy world of acting take over a down-on-its-luck football team and end up revitalising the club, the town and the people who live there.

I am reasonably sure if you presented a script like that to a Hollywood producer, they would turn it down on the basis that it would be thrashing an overused cliché to within an inch of its life.

Yet that is precisely what is happening at Wrexham with their second successive promotion this season, taking the whole remarkable story to yet another, barely believable, level.

But you know what? While I cannot help but admire what Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhanney have done for Wrexham, I am getting a little bit fed up with having this ‘fairy tale’ thrust down my throat.

Considering where Wrexham were when they Rob and Ryan rode into town, a happy ending of some sort was almost guaranteed

It’s like a constant blitz of how brilliant Ryan and Rob are, how magical their story has been, and how their love for a small Welsh town (and it’s love for them) has grown and blossomed. They even got two Wrexham trains named after them last week.

Excuse me while I retch a little.

I am not saying what is happening is a bad thing but, at the end of the day, this is really just a tale about rich guys pumping money into a football club and trying to their use disproportionately vast resources to blow away their poorer league rivals.

Unlike most wealthy owners, however, these guys happen to have faces you have seen in blockbuster movies and chart-topping TV series. And they also happen to have some of the greatest marketing minds on the planet on speed dial.

I don’t begrudge Wrexham their success in the slightest. It’s always nice to see smaller clubs fighting their way up the pyramid. But please stop trying to make it seem like this entire exercise was some altruistic act of charity.

I am not saying these two stars got into this purely for possibly future financial gain. I don’t think that is the case. But equally don’t tell me the sellability of the whole project never crossed their minds either.

This was their way of turning a rejected Hollywood script into a living movie with them in the starring roles. And, considering where Wrexham were when they Rob and Ryan rode into town, a happy ending of some sort was almost guaranteed.

The entire thing has been cleverly played, slickly executed and perfectly branded from the word go – a real masterclass in modern marketing.

But for me, genuine football fairy tales need to be a bit grittier and against the odds. Like Wimbledon’s rise from the depths of football to the elite back in the 1980s which they achieved on a budget that wouldn’t even pay Deadpool’s dry-cleaning bill.

Now that’s a story that would make a good movie...


Red Devil yard sale

According to reports last week, pretty much the entire Manchester United squad will be up for sale this summer.

When Sir Jim Ratcliffe took over the club’s football operations a few months ago, he promised a root-and-branch rebuild. And while an ‘everything must go’ jumble sale of an underperforming squad may sound extreme, it might be exactly what the club needs after years of overspending on players who mostly don’t live up to expectation.

Only three youngsters – Kobbie Mainoo, Rasmus Højlund and Alejandro Garnacho – are not going to be dressed up in their Sunday best and placed in the shop window. Offers for everyone else, even the likes of Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, will be listened to, if not necessarily accepted.

You would have to think this mass clear-out also spells the end for Erik Ten Hag, no matter what happens over the last few weeks of the season. If you are going for a clean sweep and a fresh start, you would expect a manager who has been part of the underachieving past to be asked to leave.

Sir Jim is aiming to build a squad full of young, hungry players who aren’t burdened by past failures and have them led by a fresh, equally untainted manager.

It really is going to be all change at Old Trafford this summer but their fans should be wary of getting too excited – I can’t see a dramatic purge and reset like this bearing much fruit for at least a year or two.


United we fall

Well, it’s official. After a season that was like watching a televised, slow-motion, 35-episode car crash, Sheffield United secured their relegation with three games to spare.

It’s not often I get a prediction spot on, but I don’t think I was far off the mark with what I said back in August:

20th: Sheffield United

It’s like the club’s owner misread the memo and is under the impression that promotion to the Premiership costs you £170 million. United have sold their best players, brought in cut-price replacements and are heading into the new season considerably weaker than when they won promotion. In fact, I’m thinking of campaigning to have the Blades put back in the Championship with immediate effect and their Premiership place handed to a team that will appreciate it. Embarrassing, humiliating and destined to be relegated by the end of September.

Well, the September part may have been slightly exaggerated, but otherwise there isn’t much to argue with there.

Normally at this point, as the supporter of a freshly relegated team, you would at least start to look towards next season with a degree of hope. Players that didn’t quite hack it in the top-flight should be good enough to have a go in the Championship.

But vast chunks of United’s current squad are out of contract this summer, with very few of them likely to be around come August. And I can’t see our owner finding much cash for replacements, which means we will be relying on our kids for a while.

That might work – one or two of them look pretty handy – and if it does, the future could well be bright. But the lack of experience also means it could also go horribly wrong, and this time next year I could easily be writing about back-to-back relegations.

Let me be clear, football gods, that’s not a prediction, just an observation. But with a failed Saudi prince at the helm, let’s not bet against it becoming a reality.



Twitter: @Maltablade

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