Such is the cold reality of soccer, of course, a sport that has no appetite for sentiment and — at the level Wrexham occupies — no money for it, either. Countless players suffer the same fate as Rutherford every season, victims of the game’s unapologetic mercilessness. His story, apart perhaps from the circumstances of his farewell, is not especially remarkable.
Reynolds and McElhenney are clear that, while they are ultimately responsible for it, they did not make that call. Personnel decisions are left to those on the ground at Wrexham, those who know the sport far better than they do. Nobody is hired or fired because it makes good drama; their commitment, Reynolds said, is simply to do the best by Wrexham as an entity.
Sometimes, sadly, that means individuals have to be cast as collateral. They take no pleasure in that. “It is a terrible feeling,” Reynolds said. “You don’t want to mess with people’s livelihoods. It’s genuinely awful. It feels mercenary, but it’s also part of our responsibility to the club.”
It is impossible not to feel, though, that their very presence placed a thumb on the scale. Of course, Rutherford — and the other players who were cut — might have been released by a different ownership group. Reynolds and McElhenney’s vision and ambition, though, made it certain. They are not simply telling the story. They are writing it, too.
McElhenney, certainly, is aware of the irony. Sports are compelling, he said, because they are “uncontrived,” authentic. “Any piece of scripted content has been contrived and created and manipulated to make you feel a certain way,” he said. “The masters can do that to great effect; they can make you feel like you’re not being manipulated, but that is the intent. There is no manipulation in sports. What is happening is what is happening.”