Wrexham have just completed a ground-breaking US tour, with 110,000 fans watching them across four games which included fixtures against Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United, but are we now seeing the first inkling that not all is rosy following their glamorous trip across the pond?
Manager Phil Parkinson may have just given his first indication that this is the case, following his comments after a 5-3 defeat to MK Dons on their eagerly awaited return to the EFL.
Just three years ago Wrexham were a club like any other, plying their trade in non-league after over a decade outside of the Football League, but Hollywood owners have brought them Hollywood fame and fortune, as they embarked on a pre-season campaign that many League Two sides wouldn’t even dream of.
Things didn’t exactly go swimmingly over in the States either. Star striker Paul Mullin suffered a punctured lung and four broken ribs in their victory over the Red Devils, with last season’s top goal scorer now stranded in America as he recovers from the injury.
The Red Dragons brought the curtain down on their tour on a night of extreme weather at Subaru Park in Philadelphia, with extensive heat and humidity followed by a thunderstorm which delayed the match by over two hours at the half-time interval.
Meanwhile their Buckinghamshire-based opponents geared up to the opening day with a friendly against Northern Premier League side Rushden & Diamonds.
But it was Graham Alexander’s recently relegated Dons which made the bright spark to the 2023/24 season, as an own goal and a Mohamed Eisa strike gave them lift off within 10 minutes at the Racecourse Ground.
Five goals would eventually find their way into the back of Ben Foster’s net, as the Welsh side joined fellow promotion contenders Notts County in a hefty opening day defeat.
We’ve come into the game without 90 minutes of football under our belts,” Parkinson told BBC Radio Wales.
“The thunderstorm in Philadelphia, we can’t really legislate for that. We were hoping that the adrenaline of the day would lift us physically, but we looked like a team that needed a game.
There were a lot of strange decisions made today which when you’re in a good rhythm as a team individually and collectively don’t happen.
I don’t want to get too down about it… the gap between the two teams isn’t what you saw today. We’d love to have won the game, it was an important occasion for the club and it’s been rare on the big occasions we don’t produce, but I think there were some mitigating circumstances that contributed to that.”
The wind has been whipped out of Wrexham’s sails as their first EFL game in 15 years ended with a far from ideal result.
There is no doubt that the squad is slightly undercooked, but this is a very long season and one game in 46 will not define it.
James McClean will link up with the team next week, and there will be some fresh faces through the door in the coming days, so fans shouldn’t be too disheartened by a defeat to a side who will also have their eyes set on promotion.