Alexander knows all too well the pressures of Wrexham’s entertainment spotlight

MK Dons’ head coach knows what sort of pressures Wrexham will come up against being the scalp everyone in League Two wants
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The bright spotlights and attention firmly fixed on Wrexham on this season are something quite familiar to MK Dons boss Graham Alexander.

While Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds have brought an air of Hollywood royalty to the Welsh side, helping them secure promotion to the EFL after 15 years, it was football royalty in the form of the ‘Class of 92’ which thrust Salford City into League Two just a few years ago.

With backing from Manchester United greats such as Phil and Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and David Beckham, Salford’s rise through non-league and into League Two was also documented, and put the club on the footballing map for the casual fan, not just those in the game.

Graham Alexander with one of Salford City’s backers, former England captain David Beckham. Pic: GettyGraham Alexander with one of Salford City’s backers, former England captain David Beckham. Pic: Getty
Graham Alexander with one of Salford City’s backers, former England captain David Beckham. Pic: Getty

Alexander was manager of Salford from 2018-20 through their National League campaign, and led the side to promotion via the play-offs, and then the final of the EFL Trophy in their first term in League Two.

With plenty predicting Wrexham to go back-to-back with their big-budget approach to League Two this term, Alexander reflected on his time as Salford boss and the pressures the Red Dragons will be facing heading into the new campaign.

“I've done it at a club with a high profile and when the spotlight is on you,” he said. “You have to try and thrive under it, because the expectations can be high. Wrexham have managed that over the last couple of years, they have created an excitement about them.

“The first game we lost, it was like the other team had won the league. It opened my eyes a lot to what we were facing, and then it was the same the next time too. A lot of the players we had there though were used to that from the season before - they were seen as the big, bad wolf. You have to overcome that.

“Wrexham did that last season and it will stay with them. That’s what they’ve created there - an expectancy, a mentality and a mindset. And we have to do that and learn from it.

“Now they're coming into League Two, and I think that spotlight is good.”

And with the attention firmly focused on Wrexham, and the lack of Premier League games, Alexander believes Dons’ trip to Wales makes it one of the most anticipated games in the world.

“It's not just Wrexham vs MK Dons, but there will be a worldwide audience,” he continued. “It's up to us and our supporters to go there and show we're a competitor as well.

“The finance and money is a part of it, but it's only a part. There are clubs all over the world who have spent money and can't get it to work. It's about the people you put in there. We have to bring that to this club.”