Seven things Wrexham must do to avoid 'doing a Salford' and secure back-to-back promotions to League One next season

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Wrexham co-chairman Rob McElhenney recently vowed the club was "just getting started" after earning National League promotion

After a nail-biting end to the season, Wrexham confirmed National League promotion last month by beating Boreham Wood. With the Red Dragons finally back in the Football League after a painful spell away, co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are now plotting to make it back-to-back promotions into League One.

They are not the first well-financed club to hold these lofty ambitions. Fellow documentary stars Salford City were also tipped to continue their ascent up the pyramid when the Class of '92's millions propelled them into the EFL for the first time in their history in 2019. However, things have not gone to plan for the Ammies since they made it to the fourth tier, with a revolving door of managers failing to guide Salford into promotion contention over the past three seasons.

Things might finally be changing under Neil Wood this time out - with Salford set to secure a play-off place - but their consistent failures will act as a warning to any Wrexham fans who think they are destined to be challenging at the top of the table this time next year.

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Below, GOAL ponders what Reynolds and McElhenney need to do to ensure they do not have to wait long to clinch that much-desired second promotion:

  1. Keep the faith with Phil Parkinson
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    Keep the faith with Phil Parkinson

    When Wrexham crashed out of the 2021-22 National League play-off semi-finals, it would have been easy for Reynolds and McElhenney to part ways with manager Phil Parkinson. He had been heavily backed in the transfer market after all, and also had a 2022 FA Trophy final defeat to Bromley on his CV.

    Instead, the Hollywood owners kept faith and were rewarded with one of the most joyous seasons in Wrexham's illustrious history.

    Parkinson is now back in familiar territory, having managed close to 700 EFL games during his two-decade long managerial career. Experience like this is vital. It is going to be a brutal 46-game campaign and if Wrexham do encounter some wobbles, they need to keep faith with the man who returned them to the full-professional ranks.

    Salford have taken a very different approach since their promotion, with their famous owners sacking Graham Alexander, Richie Wellens and Gary Bowyer before settling on Wood. These scattergun methods were roundly mocked when Wellens led unfancied Leyton Orient to the League Two title this season.

    Reynolds and McElhenney can avoid similar embarrassment by giving Parkinson the time and resources he needs to shape Wrexham into a formidable Football League outfit.

  2. Use the 12th man
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    Use the 12th man

    Nothing quite hammers home how much of a 'sleeping giant' Wrexham have been in recent years than the fact that they could have the highest average attendance in League Two next season.

    The 2022-23 holders of that record are Bradford City, but if the Bantams manage to earn promotion themselves, Wrexham would most likely become the fourth-tier's best supported club, having attracted an average of just under 10,000 fans this campaign.

    This is particularly impressive when you consider that The Kop is currently undergoing reconstruction work that will eventually increased the Racecourse Ground's capacity to over 15,000 by the start of the 2024-25 season.

    Wrexham fans are loud and proud too, with this vociferous support inspiring the team to several vital comebacks both home and away during the title-winning campaign. Maintaining this priceless connection between owners, fans and players will be invaluable next season as the opposition gets tougher and more motivated, as they seek to derail the media darlings.

  3. Continue to recruit smartly
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    Continue to recruit smartly

    It's no secret that Reynolds and McElhenney have invested heavily into the first-team squad since they took over in north Wales, with the pair's disruptive transfer dealings rattling a few feathers among footballing traditionalists. There has always been a clear plan, though, with very few pound notes being wasted in their quest to rise up the Football League.

    Maintaining this strong recruitment record is going to be harder then ever this season. Wrexham are now known around the world and with the stigma of being a non-league club lifted, agents will be ringing Parkinson and Co.'s phones off the hook all summer.

    Although Reynolds and McElhenney may be seduced by the promise of high-profile signings - as evidenced by their hilarious, public pursuit of Gareth Bale recently - the club's board are vastly experienced and should continue to identify players who still have the desire to give everything in League Two.

    The transfer rumour mill is already swirling, and it is going to be fascinating to watch negotiations play out this summer with more eyes than ever before firmly fixed on dealings at the Racecourse Ground.

  4. Trust in the players that got them promoted
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    Trust in the players that got them promoted

    While some transfer activity is to be expected and healthy, there isn't any real need for Wrexham to rip up the squad and start again in the summer. As their record-breaking season and FA Cup triumph over Coventry City showed, this group of players was far too good for non-league anyway, and they should not find the step-up in quality too intimidating next season.

    Up and down the English league system, there have been countless examples of too many new arrivals disrupting the momentum created the previous campaign. Wrexham, then, should be aiming to reward those who helped end their time in the non-league wilderness.

    Players like Jacob Mendy and Ryan Barnett may not have Football League pedigree on paper, but they have more than earned their shot in the fourth-tier. It would be a real shame to see them replaced.

  5. Keep scoring goals

    Keep scoring goals

    Notts County might have outscored them by one in the end, but Wrexham's tally of 116 National League goals is still mightily impressive.

    A significant portion of those strikes came from the irrepressible Paul Mullin, who finished on 38 for the season. Mullin has previous for making it rain goals in League Two as well, claiming the division's Golden Boot with Cambridge United during the 2020-21 campaign.

    Having Mullin replicate that form will be important if Wrexham are to mount a title bid, but he has not been the only one who has chipped in with double-figure goal hauls during 2022-23. Strike partner Ollie Palmer netted 16 times and has managed similar tallies in the fourth tier previously. Fellow forward Elliot Lee's contributions were important too, and he is another who has EFL goal-scoring pedigree.

    Despite this, another proven goal-getter would be a welcome boost in the summer. You can never have too many goals when you're gunning for promotion!

    Without wanting to overuse the Salford comparisons, the Ammies were killed by their lack of cutting edge in front of goal during their first season in League Two. Adam Rooney was their top scorer during the 2019-20 campaign, only managing a paltry eight goals.

  6. Tighten up at the back

    Tighten up at the back

    Wrexham have toppled a string of National League records this season, registering the most wins, fewest defeats and most points in fifth-tier history.

    In contrast, their defensive stats made for fairly underwhelming reading. Kettering Town and Stevenage Borough are the joint holders of this particular record, giving up just 24 goals in the 1993-94 and 2009-10 seasons respectively. The Red Dragons had already conceded as many after 28 games this campaign...

    It has been said that strikers win games, but defences win titles. Although Wrexham's goals-conceded record was still the third-best in the division, Parkinson will still be keen for his squad to tighten up at the back for their return to the big time.

    Particularly as his side's defensive record compares unfavourably with those in contention for League Two promotion this season. There are still one round of games left to play, but Wrexham are on track to have conceded more than Leyton Orient, Stevenage, Northampton, and Bradford City in the league.

  7. Sort out the goalkeeping situation

    Sort out the goalkeeping situation

    Key to addressing this underpowered defence is making sure they bring in a reliable goalkeeper. Ben Foster's arrival helped Wrexham get over the line this season - with 'The Cycling GK' making a pivotal penalty save in second-half stoppage time against title rivals Notts County - but the 40-year-old is yet to commit to another season, despite the owners' heartfelt pleas.

    If Foster does opt to resume his YouTube career on a full-time basis, the Red Dragons desperately need a goalkeeper capable of operating in League Two.

    In the past, they have had plenty of success convincing players to take a step down the pyramid to join their project, and the financial rewards on offer at the Racecourse Ground means they should have plenty of candidates to take the gloves this summer.

    Identifying the correct target will be difficult, but it could be decisive in their promotion push.