'You can’t help but be enthused by Wrexham story'

The dust has barely settled on another successful season, but Phil Parkinson is already planning for the next instalment in the Wrexham story.

The 56-year-old has guided the north Wales club to back-to-back promotions.

Within the space of 18 months they will have gone from games against Altrincham and Dorking Wanderers in the National League to facing Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town in League One next season.

Even for the Hollywood-owned club, the last three years have been a whirlwind for a man who started his managerial career at Colchester United 21 years ago.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp enters the final days of his tenure at Anfield, stepping down from the role having said he was "running out of energy” while Parkinson, in contrast, is “enthused” about the challenges that lay ahead for himself and his League One-bound club.

“He’s [Klopp] probably thinking he’s taken Liverpool as far as he can in terms of winning the title and there’s a bit of a transition going on there,” Parkinson said.

“Maybe it’s the right time for him to bow out.

“Talking about energy levels and tiredness, I personally feel great and I’m really looking forward to the new season.

“When you are at a club like Wrexham and the story we’re in the middle of, you can’t help but be enthused by it.”

Wrexham’s players marked another successful season with a high profile trip to Las Vegas, laid on by the club’s Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Parkinson and his management team had a more low key trip abroad to mark the end of the season and a second promotion in succession.

“All the staff went to Spain for three days, which was great to get everybody together,” Parkinson told BBC Sport Wales.

“We had a couple of games of golf out there and time to reflect on the season.

“I’m enjoying a break but work is ongoing because we’ve got a busy summer ahead.

“A break for me is the summer. Even though it’s work, it’s a different type of work and I don’t need a great deal to rejuvenate myself ready to go again.”

Phil Parkinson (centre) with young Wrexham supporters
Phil Parkinson was appointed Wrexham manager in July 2021, succeeding Dean Keates [Getty Images]

Parkinson has often been asked during his three years at the Stok Racecourse how he deals with the pressure and expectations of managing the club.

Wrexham, after all, now have a profile as high as some of the biggest clubs in the game thanks to the backing of Reynolds and McElhenney and the Disney+ documentary ‘Welcome to Wrexham.’

“The best way to cope with pressure is to build a good squad and win games of football – that’s the key,” Parkinson says with a smile.

“I remember many years ago when I was at Bradford and me and Steve [Parkin] took over a really poor team in Division Two.

“The first season was about scrambling to keep Bradford in the division.

“The two owners, Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes, were Bradford fans and feeling immense pressure.

“I remember saying to Mark Lawn in the summer ‘Look, to alleviate this pressure we’ve all had, let’s work hard this summer to get a good team on the pitch because winning games of football is what it’s all about.’

“That’s what we did – we spent the summer working tirelessly to build the squad.

“Pressure is when you’re struggling down the bottom of tables and when you can build squads that can compete then that alleviates the pressure.

“Expectation? Since I’ve been at Wrexham I just think you deal with that by having good people with you, a great relationship with the people that own the club.

“Rob and Ryan, Shaun Harvey and people like that who are great and people who work with me as well.

“We’re a team – we work as a team. The strength of that helps you through difficult periods.”

Parkinson’s main focus over the summer will be strengthening a squad ready for the challenge of League One, the club’s first time in English football’s third tier since 2005.

But the manager is meticulous when bringing in new recruits, not only judging them on their playing ability but also how they would cope with the club’s high profile.

“There are a couple of situations in play at Wrexham,” Parkinson added.

“One is learning to deal with all the extra exposure in terms of the documentary and profile of the club.

“Two is not getting carried away with that and affecting the performance level and the professionalism during the week and on a Saturday.

“I think that’s key to identifying the players who are going to embrace that and say ‘Yes, I want to be a part of that’ but equally understand Wrexham is a working class town and that’s what we represent.

“I’m very pleased over the last few years you can really count the performances on one hand where you could say we didn’t turn up.

“Normally when the lads pull on the Wrexham shirts there’s a full out, committed performance from us.

“That’s the balance we’ve got to strike in the new players.

“You’ve got to have a certain courage to play in front of a full house every week and going away from home everywhere is a full house, shoulders back ‘Yeah I’m a good player, I want to be part of this’ but equally remaining humble at the same time.”