Legends of the fall: pundits bring cold comfort to World Cup viewers | World Cup 2022

There’s a perception that working in the media is glamorous, especially when it comes to covering massive cultural and sporting events. Well, my first involvement with Glastonbury as a journalist was live-blogging it from an office, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be bringing you coverage of the World Cup from my kitchen. As someone who is, according to Qatari World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman, “damaged in the mind”, this is probably for the best.

Usually, watching the home nations from the home nations during big tournaments means bagsying pub‑garden tables alongside fans with England flag face-paint sweated off into strawberry swirls. The Tartan Army teaming tracksuit tops with kilts. Wales supporters quoting Michael Sheen’s rousing speech from The Last Leg. And, though we’ve collectively tried to forget, observing men with flares up their arses.

Not this time. This time, despite being indoors, I am watching the football wearing a beanie hat. It is dark outside. In Doha it is 28C; here it’s 7C. But, though much about this tournament is unfamiliar, one thing will never change: the great BBC versus ITV debate. Which has the better title credits? Who are the best pundits? Will a co-commentator butcher a player’s name to levels not seen since John Travolta called Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeem”? It’s a competition in itself. The ad-free Beeb often routs its commercial rival, but Euros 2020 (aka Euros 2021) saw a standout ITV performance – though was thumped in the viewing figures when the broadcasters went head-to-head in the final.

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond the football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Thank you for your feedback.

On Monday afternoon the BBC brought us England’s debut against Iran, although the channel’s coverage had kicked off on Sunday with the tournament’s opening ceremony. Or rather, not with the tournament’s opening ceremony – which was relegated to iPlayer.

Instead Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams focused on criticism of the host nation. The rife corruption surrounding its bid; the abhorrent treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums; LGBTQ and women’s rights, or lack thereof. Lineker’s will probably be the most shared opening monologue since Emily Maitlis’s Newsnight evisceration of the government’s handling of the pandemic. Naturally, many on Twitter bemoaned that Lineker and co, employed by the British Broadcasting Corporation, were hypocrites for “taking the Qataris’ money”. Which once again makes me consider that universal franchise should be replaced with some kind of basic aptitude test.

For the England game it was Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards who joined Lineker and Shearer on the tournament’s muted set, decorated white and what I would describe as burgundy but people will email in to say is maroon. A complete contrast, then, to the title credits produced by Edinburgh-based Studio Something who presumably were all off their face on drugs at the time. I quite like them. They’re raucous and boldly coloured, and a grinding chant of HERE WE GO means that every single grandparent in the country will mute them instantly. Speaking of noise, thankfully the squeaky chair issue of the previous evening had been fixed.

We’ve only gone and made the BBC World Cup titles!

As massive fans of football, design and funky music we are incredibly privileged to have been handed the opportunity to make a sequence that will be watched by millions this winter.

Here it is in all its glory. pic.twitter.com/aq0yo2SeHZ

— Studio Something (@s0methingsays) November 20, 2022

The big talking point of the day was how Fifa had threatened teams who had planned to wear the OneLove armband with a booking – clearly Gianni Infantino no longer felt gay. The teams backed down. Scott displayed class when she wore the armband pitchside at half‑time, talking to Kelly Somers. (Never mind that the OneLove armband is quite crap – just wear an actual full-rainbow armband if you want to show solidarity; but to then not wear it because it might be punitive, which is literally how sticking to principles work, is quite something)

Guy Mowbray and, in my opinion, the unfairly maligned Jermaine Jenas were in the commentary booth, and did well given the game was stopped for approximately 94 hours when the Iran keeper Alireza Beiranvand was left prone on the turf after a horrific clash of heads with his defender. Mowbray winced and declared: “I don’t think we need to see that again”, as the director replayed it from four angles. The rest of their job – and that of the in-studio gang – was a doddle, given that England scored an excellent six goals and put in a good performance all round.

ITV made its bow with the day’s second fixture: Senegal against Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands. I watched on ITVHub which – along with people who write “thank you” as one word – has served as the bane of my existence. I don’t really know about the sort of torture metered out to dissenters in various autocratic countries around the world, but forcing them to watch ITVHub would be a good shout. This time, however, it worked fine for me, and a source tells me (ie, my friend Josh) that the newer, sleeker ITV X also behaved.

Ian Wright, Gary Neville, Nigel de Jong and Laura Woods in ITV’s World Cup studio
Ian Wright, Gary Neville, Nigel de Jong and Laura Woods (left to right) in ITV’s World Cup studio. Photograph: ITV

ITV’s titles were kind of sweet, if a bit random. An animated sequence of teams making their way to the desert, variously via rowing boat (England), super‑yacht (Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously), horses, hot air balloons etc. In reality, it has been private jets flying to an event which has a carbon footprint of 3.6 million tons. The studio set design had continuity from the titles, bringing over the hot air balloons to its backdrop. But the balloons over undulating sand dunes was giving Windows screensaver vibes, or the pre-set photos on a Canon.

Laura Woods, hosting, was joined by Nigel de Jong, Rio Ferdinand, and Gary Neville (who has had criticism for taking actual Qatari money for his work with BeIn Sports). All were proficient analysers before kick‑off and at half‑time, but the real treat was the commentary. On duty were champion duo Jon Champion (sorry) and Ally McCoist. Champion and McCoist team up for the odd Premier League game on Amazon Prime, and they are an indefatigable joy. McCoist is so enthusiastic about everything, has such golden retriever energy, that, during what was objectively a game drier than the Khor Al Adaid, Champion ventured so tentatively: “I know you’re enjoying the nuances, but am I allowed to say it’s been slightly pedestrian?” McCoist conceded that it had been.

To wrap up, and sticking with ITV, Gareth Bale led the charge for Wales against USA. Two teams who had also broken their pledge to wear the OneLove armbands. Bravo for Eni Aluko’s pro-take on the armband, and for Roy Keane who, when asked by the host Mark Pougatch about the situation, said: “I think the players could have worn it for the first game, that would have been a great statement.” Also in the studio was the former Welsh international Hal Robson-Kanu, with Clive Tyldesley and John Hartson on comms. Perfectly serviceable on an evening which brought a 1-1 draw for Rob Page’s men, but a bit of a comedown after the exuberance of McCoist.

If this World Cup feels weird and uncomfortable enough as it is – and here it should be made clear that Qatar isn’t the only nation that treats migrants appallingly, hello to Southampton fan Rishi Sunak – the experience of watching on the sofa with a hot water bottle and an Earl Grey tea, instead of a deck chair and a cool glass of something clinking with ice, just isn’t the same. McCoist would still be happy, though.

Commentators have taken over but it’s time to let game do the talking | Football

Somewhere in a reinforced concrete bunker in the northern hemisphere, Paul Dempsey is still talking. He was talking long before you turned the television on and you can be sure he’ll be talking long after you turn it off. He’s got a list of names in front of him, stats and facts, reserves of time and patience that will outlast any human, living or dead.

Here’s Lautaro Martínez, who has never scored a volley in October. Lays it off to Francesco Caputo, who owns four hats. That’s Jackson Borck on the Sampdoria bench, who joined in the summer from Fighting Spiders in the Maltese Premier Division, whose next game you can catch on BT Sport 8 on Thursday at 11am. Now here’s Denzel Dumfries, who has never tasted jam.

Yes: the commentators have taken over. And a very understated invasion it has been, too: a faceless army of interchangeable middle-aged men quietly sequestering our screens, demanding only the right to talk about the football, any football, for ever. I’m talking Adam Summerton, Daniel Mann, Mark Scott, Joe Speight. I’m talking Dan Parsons, Gary Taphouse, Tom Barraclough, Steve Bower. You wouldn’t recognise them in the street. You probably didn’t even notice I made two of them up. But they’ve spent longer talking to you than many of your close family.

At the same time, something strange seems to have happened to a noble profession that was once drenched in an irresistible sun-dappled glamour.

Motson, Davies, Moore (and there were never more than three): these were the gods of the gantry, braving the midday Mexican heat and the bone-rattling Boxing Day chill. We were their rapt congregation, hanging on every word.

BBC broadcaster Barry Davies (centre) commentates on the 1990 World Cup match between West Germany and Columbia at the San Siro stadium in June 1990.
Barry Davies (centre) commentates for the BBC at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Photograph: David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images

It’s hard to recreate that wonder these days. Largely this is down to the sheer crushing volume of live football: not so much an event of national communion as an endless scroll of dead content, much of it delivered from a dark metal box somewhere in southern England in front of two blinking screens and a Pumpkin Café cappuccino slowly going cold in its non-compostable cup. No wonder the narrators of this simulacrum sound increasingly drawn and forlorn, like prisoners in a dystopian police state trying to earn enough credits for their freedom.

This is in no way to devalue the job of live broadcasting: a difficult and often thankless task that requires not just natural talent but – in the social media age – a depressingly thick skin. But it strikes me there is a whole unexplored aspect to this debate. The original football commentators emerged in an era when television was still a close cousin of radio, when the pictures were fuzzy and everyone needed a little help recognising which player was which. Does this still hold true in an age of 4K Ultra HD, names on shirts, augmented reality and overlay graphics?

The technology exists to identify players with far greater accuracy and speed than a human commentator ever could. In which case, what purpose does the human serve? If you were starting football from scratch, would you still have these guys chattering away in the background? If not, what’s the point of them now?

There is a sincere and a cynical answer to this question. Any decent commentator will argue that their job is not simply to narrate but to contextualise: to tell the story and explain why it matters. The problem is that this is not really how we interact with football any more. Most people these days watch the game while doing something else: travelling, cooking, entertaining friends, scrolling through social media. In the second-screen age the commentator serves a subtly different function.

Sky TV commentators Rob Hawthorne and Alan Smith at the Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield in December 2017.
Different types of commentary have sprung up furiously jostling for a niche in the attention economy. Photograph: Visionhaus/Corbis/Getty Images

There is a bit in The Tempest where Prospero is making a long, rambling speech to Miranda when he suddenly blurts out: “Dost thou attend me?” It’s addressed to Miranda, but really it’s addressed to the audience: “Hey, are you listening?” This is the commentator’s real job these days: to remind us when we need to run back from the kitchen.

Over time different styles of commentary have sprung up, all furiously jostling for a niche in the attention economy. Commentary as an extension of pub banter. Catchphrase commentary. Overwrought, emotion-soaked commentary specifically geared towards the viral clip market. “MILANESE! MAYHEM!” Peter Drury will shout after a dramatic late winner. “A SAN SIRO DRAMA TO END ALL DRAMAS!” And you think: all right Peter, it’s a 1-0 win in Europa League Group K. Let’s not go overboard.

There is a high degree of subjectivity here. Some of you clearly can’t get enough of the football men talking (and for all the progress made, this remains an unforgivably white and male profession). Some of you will take comfort in a familiar voice. Some of you prefer shouting, some wit and whimsy. Some of you will be devotees of the YouTube watchalong, where you log in to watch a man with two million followers swearing at a screen.

But for decades televised football has gone one way: more talking, more curation, more voices, more product. Somewhere in a splintered market, there may just be an audience out there for the very opposite: football without any commentary. Just a viewer, a screen and the seductive ambient noise of the game. A sparser broadcast, but one that feels all the more immersive as a result, as close to the live experience as it is possible to get.

Football sounds amazing. Perhaps it’s time we let it talk.

Jonathan Liew was named sports journalist of the year at the prestigious London Press Club awards.

Ray Hudson: ‘I was in love with America before I even came to the United States’ | Football

Ray Hudson will always be a Geordie, but America claimed his heart long ago.

As a kid growing up in Tyneside, Hudson, was drawn to the pop culture of the United States, its movies and television. He loved Motown, but he also loved listening to his father, who worked for Ford Motor Company, share stories about Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

“I was in love with America before I even came to the United States,” Hudson said. “It was otherworldly. It wasn’t just a skip across the ocean like it is now. It was a different world. It was the Emerald City, where you wanted to be.”

Hudson’s maiden voyage came in 1977, when a scout approached him with an offer to join the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League on loan from his hometown Newcastle United.

“I had never heard of Fort Lauderdale,” Hudson said. “The scout says, ‘It’s just outside of Miami.’ I says, ‘OK, that’s good. I like that.’”

Arriving in the country for the first time at the age of 22, Hudson was immediately smitten by the Florida sunshine. He was also swept up in the excitement surrounding a league that had hit its apex in the late 1970s. Hudson joined a squad anchored by Gordon Banks in goal. In Hudson’s first season in Fort Lauderdale, the Strikers lost in the playoffs to a Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer-led New York Cosmos side in front of more than 77,000 fans at Giants Stadium.

The loan spell turned permanent. Hudson played another six seasons for the Strikers in the NASL, and spent the better portion of his playing career in the United States. Fort Lauderdale has been his home ever since.

“I had no desire to go back to Newcastle,” Hudson said. “It was just completely seductive here in every way – the lifestyle, the wonderful competition on the field. It was the most incredible time in my life.”

It was the start of a life steeped in soccer, with Hudson playing first-hand witness to a number of inflection points in the sport’s evolution in the US. After playing in the NASL during the peak of its popularity, Hudson later held a pair of coaching positions in what was a still-fledgling MLS, first with the now-defunct Miami Fusion and then with DC United.

“This is a different landscape than anywhere else in the world because America has its own wonderful, massively popular games,” he said. “But every rung of the ladder in soccer is only going one way. It’s not going down.”

It was the job he took after his managerial stints that turned him into a seminal figure in the American soccer scene.

After parting ways with DC in late 2003, Hudson was approached about taking a job as a commentator for GolTV, a Florida-based broadcaster that had just acquired the U.S. broadcasting rights to La Liga. Hudson was known for his gift of gab. He dabbled in commentary for ESPN’s coverage of the 2002 World Cup, and earned a reputation for his colorful post-match interviews as a coach in Miami and DC, but few were prepared for what the self-described “verbal gymnast” brought to the broadcast booth.

A match called by Hudson is a cascade of metaphors, analogies and pop culture references, punctuated by frequent audible gasps and 10-dollar words. In Hudson’s telling, a goal is never merely “beautiful”; it is “sweeter than a mother’s kiss at bed time,” “cool as Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock,” or – the ultimate Hudson-ism – ”magisterial”.

“Where does that come from?” said Roger Bennett, the co-host of the Men in Blazers podcast. “Is it Ray, speaking in tongues, or the footballing gods speaking through him as some kind of commentating prophet?”

Hudson credits his verbal prowess not to divine intervention, but to an English teacher he had as a kid back in England. “She would always tell the class, ‘Don’t be afraid of the English language, children. It won’t break. You have to stretch it,’” he recalled.

He took that lesson to heart. As a commentator, Hudson said he is constantly expanding his “mental rolodex”, collecting phrases and descriptions to brandish on future broadcasts.

“I’ve always done this, where I think of a descriptive that would be wonderful to use in a situation that is deserving of it,” Hudson told me. “I’m always aware of anything that comes along in my day-to-day life. You can get something from the guy who cuts the lawn. You can get something from watching a cartoon, the old ‘Tom and Jerry’ or something like that.”

Hudson’s on-air rhapsodies have inspired YouTube compilations and various online tribute pages. That style has brought him a side gig on Cameo, where he has fielded nearly 800 requests for personalized greetings to fans.

“They all want to hear me wish them a ‘magisterial birthday,’” he said.

Even Hudson himself has his own favorite Ray Hudson Moments.

There was Lionel Messi’s 92nd-minute winner against Real Madrid in 2017, which prompted a piercing shriek out of Hudson before he offered up this instant-classic: “Messi, you could drop a tarantula into his shorts and he’ll still be cool.”

Or there was Ronaldinho’s sensational overhead kick against Villarreal in 2006, which Hudson described as “electrifying as a hair dryer thrown into a hot tub”.

Hudson was with GolTV until 2012, when the upstart Qatari-funded beIN Sports obtained the rights to La Liga and hired Hudson to lead its coverage. In his more than 15 years with the two networks, Hudson emerged as the defining voice for a generation of American soccer fans, providing the soundtrack to a halcyon era in Spain’s top division headlined by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

More than just a cult hero, Hudson’s broadcasting career has made him a sort of footballing ambassador to a country where the NFL reigns supreme.

“Few have done more to grow global football in this nation,” said Bennett.

Hudson, 67, left beIN last year after the network lost the rights to La Liga to ESPN. In September, CBS announced that it hired Hudson as lead color commentator for its broadcasts of Champions League in the US, marking the first time he’s provided match commentary for Europe’s signature club competition. Two months in, Hudson has already produced some vintage calls. After Bayern Munich’s Leroy Sané sliced through the middle of Barcelona’s defense for a dazzling run and goal in a match last month, Hudson exclaimed that the German winger was “attached to the ball like a teenager to a cell phone”.

As for the competition itself, Hudson sees three early favorites with the group stage nearly complete: Real Madrid (“Can they produce the miracle string of results that they got last year?”), Manchester City (“I’ve picked them the last two seasons and been severely disappointed, but I would put them again near the top.”) and Napoli (“They’re anybody’s box of toys, and a wonderful one at that.”)

Hudson has called all of this season’s Champions League matches from a studio in Florida, just as he did during his time with GolTV and beIN. When he was approached by CBS Sports about the job, Hudson was flattered, but also wary of the travel commitment. The network had initially suggested that he call the matches, which are carried on Paramount+ and CBS, from its studio in New York City.

CBS eventually agreed to accommodate Hudson with its studio space in Fort Lauderdale, where he has worked alongside play-by-play announcer Andrés Cordero.

“I’ve just had enough of the traveling,” Hudson said.

Hudson doesn’t make it back to Newcastle much these days either. He said the city “doesn’t have the same pull” since his father, Wilfred, passed away five years ago. But Hudson remains loyal to his boyhood club, which signed him to a contract when he was 17. He has been delighted by Newcastle United’s start to the Premier League season – even while acknowledging the “problematic” nature of the new Saudi Arabian ownership.

“It’s my football club. These are still our black-and-white colors. You can criticize the human rights record of Saudi Arabia. That is one aspect that unfortunately cannot be separated from our love of the club. It just cannot,” Hudson said. “But what are we supposed to do? Just say, ‘Well, there goes our team’? It takes a brave man, and a morally high man, to do that. But this is our game. This is our team, our sport. We were there before we had even heard of Saudi Arabia, and we’ll be there forever after.”

Hudson shares a similar kinship with Inter Miami, which just completed its third season in MLS. He has been the club’s lead color commentator since it began play in 2020, a job that he said represents a “completion of the circle”. Since he moved there in 1977, Hudson has never lived farther than seven miles away from where he used to play for the Strikers, now the location of Inter Miami’s home ground, DRV PNK Stadium.

“This is my town,” Hudson said.

‘Utterly addictive’: how Wrexham took over Reynolds and McElhenney | Wrexham

In an early episode of Welcome to Wrexham, there is a scene recorded on a movie lot shortly after Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney meet in person for the first time. Recently approved as the new owners of a fifth-tier football club located in a working-class town in north Wales, the actors are filmed admiring what appears to be a brass plaque on a studio wall commemorating the first film in which the Deadpool star Reynolds appeared. A closer inspection and impromptu act of minor vandalism reveals the plate to be made of cheap plastic and rubber, prompting McElhenney to observe gleefully: “This is just Hollywood to a tee; beautiful on the outside but just … shit.”

Previously acquainted with Reynolds only through a series of mid-pandemic video calls on which they had discussed and negotiated the purchase of Wrexham Football Club from its supporters trust, McElhenney was the driving force behind the takeover. He couldn’t do it alone and needed the “movie-star money” provided by Reynolds, who has supplemented his already obscene acting income with lucrative stakes in Aviation American Gin and Mint Mobile. Neither man had ever set foot in Wales, let alone Wrexham, and the prevailing concern among fans regarding the Hollywood duo’s peculiar interest was that their stardust-sprinkled stewardship and the documentary series that would chronicle it might turn out to be as tacky as the studio sign.

When news of Reynolds’s and McElhenney’s pursuit started percolating in 2020, the understandable question on everyone’s lips was: why Wrexham? More specifically, what possible motivation could a couple of TV and movie heavyweights from across the pond have for investing in a club that have been treading National League waters for well over a decade and what would their involvement mean for the future of the club and town?

They are queries addressed in the opening episode of their Disney+ series, which is halfway through an opening run of 18 episodes. In the first one, McElhenney lays out his blue-collar credentials as the son of a working-class man who grew up in Philadelphia and says he feels an affinity between his home city and the Welsh town.

During his and Reynolds’ online pitch to the supporters trust, he tells his bemused audience that seeing his beloved Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2018 was one of the top five moments in his life, up there with marrying his wife and having children. He also stresses his fascination with the idea of promotion and relegation and on more than one occasion in the series makes no secret of his ambition to move Wrexham up to the Premier League.

To begin this ambitious odyssey, Wrexham first have to escape a purgatory in the National League now in its 15th year, with the club trying to achieve promotion back to the Football League at the third time of asking under Reynolds and McElhenney. With that pair taking a backseat during the early episodes, we are invited behind the scenes at the club and, in film that calls to mind Sunderland Til I Die, introduced to the town of Wrexham and many of members of a population to whom the club means everything.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney celebrate a goal for Wrexham
Reynolds and McElhenney have given every indication they are in it for the long haul at Wrexham. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters

There’s Shaun Winter, a painter and decorator who “hates” his job, is the father of two young boys and is struggling to cope with the fact that their mother has just left him. Wayne Jones is the amiable and opinionated landlord and chief confessor of the Turf hotel, located just beside the Racecourse Ground and a shrine to the club where worshippers congregate on match days.

Receiving treatment for bowel cancer, Michael “Scoot” Hett is the lead singer of a local band whose members could scarcely be more chuffed to hear their catchy composition about Wrexham’s new owners being sung from the terraces. Like many other fans who quickly threaten Reynolds’ and McElhenney’s role as the main characters of this docu-series, Annette Gardner, a local librarian and club volunteer, isn’t short of a strident opinion. When the owners finally get round to visiting their club and meet her, she bluntly takes them to task over their decision to appoint Shaun Harvey, the controversial former chief executive of the English Football League and CEO at Leeds United and Bradford City, as their strategic adviser.

Having watched Wrexham’s progress, or lack of it, from afar for almost a year, McElhenney and Reynolds get their first live experience of National League football on a cold October night in Maidenhead. Their low-key arrival is booed by home fans, who go on to serenade the duo with chants of “You bought the wrong club!” as Wrexham valiantly rally from two goals and a man down only to lose by the odd goal in five.

“I don’t know how people do this, it’s heartbreaking,” says Reynolds of the 450 away fans making the late-night journey home from Berkshire. The following weekend the two men visit Wrexham for the first time and are mobbed by exuberant locals in the town centre. After meet-and-greets with the club’s staff, the players and the manager, Phil Parkinson, they end up on an epic booze-up in the Turf, where they are bombarded with increasingly strident and slurred opinions by landlord Wayne and his band of regulars.

During their first home game, a draw with Torquay, they sit alongside their expensive but suspended star striker, Paul Mullin. The scorer of 30 goals in what would turn out to be another failed promotion push last season, this particular character in what the makers are billing as an “underdog story” is reported to be on £4,000 a week plus bonuses as a non-league player.

Wrexham's Christian Dibble collects a high ball during the National League semi-final against Grimsby
Wrexham’s Christian Dibble collects a high ball during the National League playoff semi-final against Grimsby but his side lost 5-4. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA

McElhenney and Reynolds have at least given every indication they are in for the long haul after finalising a purchase of the Racecourse Ground freehold that includes a covenant to ensure it will remain the home of Wrexham until at least 2115, unless the club outgrow it.

“I’ve only been the owner of a football club for a very short time,” says Reynolds, after Wrexham’s failure to make the playoffs under the glamorous new regime in May 2021, before he had seen them play in the flesh. “So far I’ve found it to be very time-consuming, emotionally exhausting, financially idiotic and utterly addictive.” After coming up just short again last season, Wrexham are a point from the top after 10 games and showing every sign they’re going to put their feted owners through the wringer once again.