IT’S part of the natural scheme of things for fans to start complaining about one of their own players, making them the scapegoat when things go wrong, writes MARK GRIFFITHS.
However, it bemuses me that some of Wrexham’s supporters have decided that Mark Carrington should be their target this season.
We need to keep a sense of perspective about these things. I’m sure the vast majority of fans are perfectly happy with Carrington’s performances.
However, social media means that minority views spread swiftly and can be mistaken for the opinion of the majority, so it makes sense to address the issue.
Carrington, the Reds' longest-serving player, is a crucial part of our plans, both now and going forward. Think back to last season, when Dean Keates inherited a lop-sided squad, short of quality and leadership.
Fortunately he was able to lean on the experience of Carrington, Paul Rutherford and Chris Dunn until the cavalry arrived in the shape of experienced signings like James Jennings, Russell Penn and Izale McLeod, who were able to add further character and experience.
Carrington spent seven seasons playing in League One and had a spell in the Scottish Premier League, so he knows what he’s about, which no doubt is a factor in him being the most adaptable player in the squad.
He’s started in three different positions already this season, and Keates used him in a further two during the last campaign, including as a makeshift centre back.
If anything I’m downplaying the amount of different roles he’s been asked to play by reducing them down into mere positions: he’s played as a central midfielder in a 4-4-2 this season, and fulfilled nominally the same position in a diamond last year, but those two jobs make very different demands of a player.
Fortunately, a good pro like Carrington is able to swiftly assimilate instructions swiftly and execute them.
Carrington’s flexibility also makes him crucial in a crisis.
He’s been pressed into duty at left back quite a few times this season – twice from the start and twice from the bench. He’s not a natural left back, but his ability to do a job in that position has been extremely valuable this season.
In total he’s spent 335 minutes there, and in all that time we haven’t conceded in open play, only letting a goal in from a corner against Leyton Orient.
Carrington’s ability, when pressed into emergency action, to do a reliable job has meant that when injuries strike we’re aren’t immediately thrown into turmoil.
This was illustrated perfectly at Chester. In the midst of frantic derby battle, James Jennings succumbed to injury less than ten minutes into the second half and Carrington had to replace him.
We then endured intense pressure but managed to emerge with a terrific derby win because the defensive unit had stood firm, despite Carrington having to fill an alien position.
I suppose some of the criticism this season has come from when Carrington has played in the centre of midfield.
There’s been a perception that, when he utilised alongside Sam Wedgbury, they tend to be forced too deep when we don’t have possession. I understand that argument, but I can’t see how that’s Carrington’s fault.
All tactics have strengths and weaknesses, and while it’s possible to outnumber the central players in a 4-4-2, it’s also true that in dropping back that duo will offer greater defensive solidity.
If you don’t value our strength at the back this season, I invite you to have a look at the league table to understand where it can get you.
I’m bemused by the negative view some fans seem to have of Carrington.
As a former winner of the player of the season award, and the scorer of that iconic goal at Stoke, you’d think he’d be afforded rather more respect.
The fact that, in an unprecedented period of upheaval within the squad, he’s the last man standing, surviving four end of season culls under three different managers, suggests that those who work with him certainly appreciate his qualities.
We’ve suffered some disappointing defeats away to Aldershot since they dropped into the National League in 2013. We played them early that season and were comfortably beaten 2-0.
That scoreline which was repeated last season as a rudderless side conceded in the third minute and already looked to be fighting a hopeless cause. The only real surprise was that Aldershot only added one more goal, through Scott Rendell.
Rendell is an opponent to fear as he has scored past us in five games: only two players have scored more against Wrexham since we dropped into the National League.
However, we’ve also enjoyed recent success when we visit The Shots.
Wes York scored the winning goal at Aldershot two seasons ago as we enjoyed a 1-0 win, our first at The Recreation Ground since 1976, and as the previous season came to its conclusion we earned a 1-1 draw there under Carl Darlington, with Louis Moult scoring his last goal for Wrexham.
Tomorrow, Kevin Roberts makes his 300th league career appearance while James Hurst plays his 200th game.