New Wrexham manager Bryan Hughes says fixing the Dragons lack of goals is his top priority after taking charge at the Racecourse.
Hughes returns to the Racecourse having started his playing career at the club, winning the Young Player of the Season award in 1995 and scoring key goals in the Dragons’ run to the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1997.
And he wants his Wrexham team to reflect the attacking philosophy and passion he believed in as a player, as he targets promotion back to the Football League.
“As a player I was quite attack minded, scored plenty of goals, something we have been lacking this season as a squad, so I want to try and get the team playing some attractive football, and get into areas of the pitch where they can be effective and can excite the fans.
“I want them to play with a work ethic as well, and a passion, that is one of the biggest things I learnt from my playing days; the fans are passionate, they care about the club and I want to show them the players do as well, and want them to show an identity they can relate to with the fans.
“I’m excited, it is a club that is a special place for me personally, I started my career here all them years ago and really building my own foundations and my own career going forward. It gave me my start but going forward now as a manager it is exciting times.
“The team are sitting healthy in the league, it is quite a privileged opportunity because when there is change as a manager it is usually when teams aren’t doing too well. I am very fortunate to come in, in a healthy position, and now it is all about building momentum and getting consistency in the group to keep building on that.”
Hughes admits he needs to be careful not to make too many changes, however, especially with his first game at Dagenham on Saturday.
The former Birmingham City, Charlton Athletic and Hull City midfielder admitted it had been a whirlwind period since first meeting with the Wrexham board.
But Hughes says he was pleased with his first training session and revealed he was looking to instil some high intensity both on and off the pitch.
“I think it’s important to really reflect on how well we are doing. I don’t want to make too many changes,” he said.
“There’s a long-term vision with regards to how I want to play but the critical part of this season is the next 15 games, so I want to make sure all the work that has gone on beforehand, from Sam and from Graham.
“The last thing I want to do is give them a whole new philosophy or game model with 15 games to play. I’m not stupid enough to do that.
“From my point of view, it’s about finding the right formation to get the best out of them. Defensively we’ve got a fantastic record – one of the best in the league. Where we know we’re struggling is in the goals department.
“First and foremost it’s trying to get that front four or five, however you look at it, into the right areas of the pitch where they can actually deliver. And play with freedom – I want my players to play with freedom, I want them to express themselves.
“I don’t want them to feel any pressure, especially when they get into that final third. I’m sure the fans will enjoy that.
“Training went really well this morning, we were short and sharp, thinking about Saturday now and making sure the load is right. I want that high intensity off the team going into Saturday.
“I want to make the Racecourse a fortress and come out the blocks firing at every opportunity, so a lot of my training schedule will be high intensity, so the payers know exactly the style of play I want to play come Saturday.”
He added: “It has all been a bit of a whirlwind, it all started over the weekend. I think Graham had made his thoughts known to the board that he wanted to step down and then they put things in motion to try and find a replacement.
“I was fortunate to have an interview and the rest is history and that is why I am sat here today.”
Hughes – who says he has an assistant manager in mind and will look to appoint one quickly – also hopes to thrive under the pressure of expectation as the club target promotion.
“There’s pressure in any role,” he said. “I’m manager of the football club now but I’ll deal with the pressure. I want to try and take that off the players because I want them to be fully focussed on these next 15 games.
“That’s what it’s all about – bringing them together as a group, and making sure they know their roles and responsibilities every time we take to the field and it’s about delivering. It’s about making an impact.
“We’re doing it defensively. Can we do it more in the attacking third? That’s the biggest challenge for me. We’ve got plenty of players in those areas and it’s now about finding the right formula to do that.
“For me, it’s all about the here and now and getting out of this league. It’s about us trying to get out of the league – if we can win the league, brilliant; if we have to do it through the play-offs, just as good.
“It’s massive to get back into the Football League. They’ve been out of the Football League way too long for my liking.
“It’s not an easy job as other managers have found, it is a competitive league, especially this season, but we’ll be doing out utmost as a coaching team and a playing team and I’m sure the fans will back us all the way. That’s going to be the key.
“Does it phase me? No, it’s one of those things that I’m really excited about delivering. I want us to take each game as it comes.
“There will be targets put in place for the players. We’ll have a structure in place and we’ll review it over the next eight to ten games and, in my head, I’ve got a target I want to reach going into the last six games.”