New Wrexham AFC manager Phil Parkinson says chairman Rob McElhenney’s vision for the Football Club was the biggest selling point in him coming to the Racecourse Ground.
Parkinson has 18 years’ experience as a manager but this will be his first job in the National League.
However, the former Colchester, Hull, Charlton, Bradford, Bolton and Sunderland boss says Wrexham’s ambition means he has no qualms about making the step into non-league football.
Parkinson spoke to the press for the first time, having been introduced by CEO Fleur Robinson in a virtual press conference from the Racecourse Ground.
And on what appealed about the job, he revealed: “I initially spoke to Les Reed, and he spoke to me about the plans for the Club – of course, I know all about Wrexham anyway because of its history and stature in the game.
“Then I spoke to Rob McElhenney and he just sold the vision and plans of the Club going forward and I just thought, ‘what an exciting project to be a part of’ and I was really keen to play my part in the journey the Club is about to embark on.
“It’s a great challenge, and one I’m really looking forward to.
“It’s certainly different having Hollywood owners, but taking their status in Hollywood away, it is their genuine determination to make a mark in this Football Club and the area that really appeals to me. They are so committed to putting into practice what they have promised. I’m determined to give everything I’ve got to play my part in that.
“There were no worries about stepping down. Every job you go into there’s an element of a gamble but sometimes you’ve got to back yourself and that’s what I do.
“Along with Steve [Parkin, assistant manager], we looked at everything, we looked at the Club, spoke with the chairmen, looked at every part of the Club, looked at the existing players, looked at the other Clubs in the league and thought ‘come on, let’s have a real good go at this’ because we’ve got a good chance of building something.”
Parkinson explained it was the processes being put in place to improve every aspect of the Football Club that convinced him to take the job at the Racecourse Ground.
Likening it to the challenge he faced at former club Bradford City, with whom he reached the EFL Cup final as a League Two team and earned promotion, Parkinson wants to play his part in boosting the whole town.
“I’ve no concerns about stepping down to non-league, because it’s the challenge and vision of the owners that appealed to me,” he reiterated.
“I’ve worked at some good clubs but I look at Wrexham and it reminds a little of when I went to Bradford – they were struggling at the time, and we put things in place and played our part in lifting that Club and this reminds me of that. I want to do everything I can to do the same here.
“It’s great for myself, for my family – everyone is really looking forward to it. We’re going to embrace the challenge and, for the area as well, the amount of exposure Wrexham has had in recent months, we hope that will gather more momentum as we get a winning team on the pitch.
“The aim is to get out of the division, I think that’s clear. The process to achieve that has got to be understood and that’s about improving all areas of the football side of the club: the professionalism, everything about the training ground, the way the players train, preparation, recovery after games, embracing the sports science side because as clubs progress through the league, that becomes even more important. So it’s making sure all areas are improved and there is a strong platform for the Club to keep flourishing.
“Immediately though, the aim is to get a team on the pitch and build a squad that we are confident can be top of the league.”
Parkinson also revealed the style of football he wants to implement at the Racecourse Ground, as he looks forward to reigniting the passion of the supporters.
He added: “Ideally, we want to play with high energy and press high up the pitch, and I want to utilise the passionate supporters that we have at Wrexham, to really get them out of their seats and get behind the team, and they will do that if they can really identify with the football they are seeing on the pitch.
“I know Wrexham is a real football town in terms of the great passion for the Club.
“I know how I’d like to play and now the challenge is to recruit the players and work with the existing ones to be able to implement that.
“It’s definitely not a rip up and start again job. There are some good players, and I’m pleased with the ones who have remained at the Club because there’s some good players, good ages, good athleticism in certain areas.
“There’s gaps in the squad, we know that, I think any supporter will be looking at that and know where we need to fill those. But we’re aware of that and we’re already working towards that.
“The core of the players already here will play their part in that and I’m looking forward to meeting them all next week.
“I’ve got to do my part to attract players to the Club, and the ones I want to get are the ones that may be tough to get – that we may have to compete with other clubs for – but it’s my job to sit them down and explain the plans of the Club, the structures in place and where I feel the Club’s going to go and try and convince those players to come on board. I want players to come on the journey.”
Parkinson will meet the players for the first time next week, when they report back for pre-season training.
Full details of the club’s pre-season friendly schedule will be confirmed in due course.