Hughes appointed new Wrexham boss
Bryan Hughes has become Wrexham’s fifth manager inside 12 months after a dramatic shake-up at the Racecourse Ground.
The former Reds midfield wizard is the latest left-field appointment tasked with putting Wrexham’s promotion bid firmly back on track after a difficult start to 2019 which has yielded just one win and one goal from six games in all competitions.
The arrival of the 42-year-old Scouser brings about an abrupt end to Graham Barrow’s short-lived reign as Reds boss — 49 days to be precise.
Barrow stepped down on Tuesday having taken on the main job he’d previously gone on record to say he did not want.
Hughes becomes the fifth man to take the Cae Ras hot-seat inside a year, aiming to succeed where previous permanent incumbents Dean Keates, Andy Davies, Sam Ricketts and Barrow have either failed, defected or done a u-turn.
Most recently Hughes has been working as a pundit for Birmingham City FC’s own BluesTV channel and ITV Sport, whilst his LinkedIn page also shows him as Head of Coaching at i2i International Soccer Academy.
His last managerial job ended in December 2015 after just over a year in joint-charge of Scarborough Athletic FC.
But he appears to fit the bill with what the club’s bosses have gone for since Gary Mills rejoined his prehistoric pals on Isla Nublar — young, ambitious and coaching badged up to the eyeballs.
The only seemingly noticeable difference between Hughes and Sam and Dean is he seems like a thoroughly nice guy. Keates was a tenacious bastard on and off the pitch who we loved. Ricketts was a total shitbastard who we hated within moments of his inglorious defection.
In an interview with a national newspaper in 2013, just as his playing career came to an end Hughes said: ‘If I became a manager I’d want my teams to play the right way, football which would make the fans happy. It’s ok to play the long ball when you need to but I’d like my sides to play good, attacking football.”
His arrival has been met with an initial lukewarm response but if Hughes still holds true to this playing mantra then it’ll be music to the ears of Wrexham fans who have been left wondering what sort of team was going to turn up after Sam slithered off to Salop — the brilliant or the bereft.
At least Hughes a huge slice of goodwill already afforded to him, especially by those of us who continue to namecheck him as one of the best midfielders to have graced our club.
Hughes, affectionately referred to by fans as ‘Yozzer’ became an instant crowd favourite at Wrexham with his lung-busting bursts of speed, dazzling footwork and graceful balance.
He rose to prominence in our 1996/97 FA Cup run, netting against Colwyn Bay, Scunthorpe, West Ham United and Birmingham.
His last game for the club was in that heartbreaking 1-0 quarter final defeat at Chesterfield on March 9, 1997.
Birmingham boss Trevor Francis was impressed with the midfielder’s creativity and vivacity, so much so he convinced the St Andrews top brass to open their chequebook to the tune of £800,000 — a figure which almost certainly doubled during his seven years with the Blues due to appearance and promotion add ons, thus resulting in Wrexham’s record transfer fee received for a player. He is a regarded as a Blues cult hero having netted 43 times in 293 appearances.
He won promotion to the Premier League with them under Steve Bruce, a feat he repeated in 2008 with Hull City after three years with Charlton Athletic.
Only time will tell whether Hughes has the credentials and mindset to succeed where others have fallen flat. It seems like another big gamble by an under-fire board, especially at such a crucial stage of the campaign.
Bryan Hughes: massive fact hunt
- He was the first person to score a goal at the Millenium Stadium, netting for Birmigham against Huddersfield after just 12 seconds.
- He inflicted a first defeat at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, scoring the deciding penalty in a League Cup win for Charlton Athletic in October 2005.
- He played in the same promotion-winning Hull City side as Ricketts and the same Blues side as Mike Newell.
- He signed for Hull over breakfast at Frankie & Bennys in Gatwick Airport after David Moyer dithered over taking him to boyhood club Everton.