Dean Keates: New manager has Wrexham at heart, says ex-boss Andy Morrell

By Aled WilliamsBBC Wales Sport
Dean Keates and Andy Morrell
Dean Keates (left) was Wrexham captain during Andy Morrel's two and a half years in charge

Wrexham's appointment of Dean Keates as manager is not the first time the Welsh club have turned to a familiar face to lead them.

Keates, who made over 150 league appearances and captained the club to an FA Trophy win in 2013, has been handed his first managerial role as Gary Mills' successor.

Arfon Griffiths, Brian Flynn and more recently Andy Morrell were all former players given their first chance of management by the north Wales club.

All three left their own mark on a club which is now in its eighth season outside the Football League.

Wrexham have not mounted a serious play-off challenge since the reign of Morrell, who had Keates as club captain.

Morrell, now manager of National League North side Tamworth, was one of the first to message Keates with congratulations on his appointment.

"He's perfect for it," Morrell told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

Andy Morrell
Andy Morrell had two spells at Wrexham having been signed by Brian Flyn n in 1998

"He's somebody who is ambitious, enthusiastic and has got Wrexham at heart.

"He fought tooth and nail when he was a player for them and put his body on the line and he'll do exactly the same thing in the manager's job as well.

"It's a great opportunity for him because these don't come along very often."

Morrell, like Keates, initially took over on an interim basis in September 2011 when Dean Saunders left for Doncaster Rovers and was later made permanent.

However, Morrell took over a side that was second in the Conference while Keates' Wrexham are currently 14th and eight points off the play-off places.

"I was in a better position because we had won seven out of the 10 games," Morrell recalls.

"All I had to do was carry on doing what we were doing and the lads were great.

"Dean has got to somehow change the mind-set of the players.

"They've got to change that mentality into one that's a winning one and he can do it.

"He'll lead from the front and he'll tell them exactly what he wants."

Brian Flynn
Brian Flynn was Wrexham manager between 1989 and 2001

The appointment has also drawn comparisons with another diminutive midfielder turned Wrexham manager Flynn. Although 5ft 5ins, Keates joked at his press conference: "I'm a bit taller than Flynnie though."

Flynn, the former Wales international, made the switch from player to manager at Wrexham as Dixie McNeil's successor in November 1989.

He transformed a side which finished bottom of the Football League to FA Cup giant killers, with notable wins over Arsenal and West Ham United during his 12-year tenure.

"It's a very similar situation to when Brian Flynn came in and look at the success he had at the football club," said Peter Jones, chair of Wrexham Supporters' Trust.

"We felt the opportunity for Dean was the right time. He knows the club, he knows everyone here."

Flynn was renowned for giving young players their chance at Wrexham and Morrell says home grown talent is key to the club's development and sustainability.

"I hope they can get a plan in place not just to try and make the play-offs this season or next season," Morrell told BBC Wales.

Keates looking to take Wrexham forward

"It's got to be a longer term plan. What are they going to do with the academy? Are they going to use that properly and get players from that and bring them into the first team?

"You've got assets there that you can sell whereas at the moment they seem to be ignoring that. If they can get those players through then that gets the fans on board.

"If there's a plan in place there's no reason why in a few years' time you can't be pushing again.

"There's so many big teams that are struggling to get back to where they should be and Wrexham are a Football League club in mine and a lot of people's eyes.

"Keatsy will be positive and he'll push them on and make them play well."

Top Stories