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Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Inside Line: Crewe Alexandra v Bristol City (20/12/2014)

One down, three to go. 

A late show from Luke Ayling gave Bristol City all three points in the first of their four ‘winnable’ games last time out and the final match before Christmas sees the Robins travel to Cheshire to face bottom side Crewe Alexandra.

Stu Radnedge caught up with Alex fan Nathaniel Holland, a journalism student who has kindly written a few words.  My thanks to Stu & Nat

“This season has, for obvious reasons, been one to forget for any Crewe fan. A continuation from the poor results last season has spilled over into this campaign and it is still difficult for anyone to put their finger on the main problems.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect Crewe to be setting the league on fire this year but I did think with the squad we had put together that we would be sitting comfortably around the 14th/15th position.

There is not one factor to the reason behind the run of poor results, a combination of individual errors at the back, mixed in with a seemingly long list of misfiring strikers has put Crewe in real danger of slipping back into League Two after three seasons in the third tier.

I can’t even say it is the fault of manager Steve Davis. He has guided the club from League Two and won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on the way to us being where we are now. A lot of fans in recent months have called for managerial change but it begs the vital question; who would we bring in?

A new manager probably wouldn’t be the answer at this stage of a season, if anyone new were to come in then they would have a difficult task of motivating an under performing squad, not to mention the pressures to play the ‘Crewe way’, something that any manager has to abide by if they are going to last at Gresty Road, a system that clearly isn’t working.

So for now, with Davis in charge, it is definitely up to the players to step up. The impending return of captain Matt Tootle should be a boost for everyone but the likes of Uche Ikpeazu, Nicky Ajose and Marcus Haber need to quickly form a lethal goal-scoring bond if we are to ever climb out of the bottom four.

There was a sense of quiet optimism in pre-season, after our Under 21 side won the league in May, it has seen some more young prospects join the long list of Crewe academy graduates. George Cooper has excelled in a struggling team this season and Crewe fans are yet to see the best of Callum Saunders but the biggest surprise for me this season is James Baillie at right back. The teenager has deputised for the illness-hit Tootle and done as good a job as any.

For me the problems don’t lie in one particular area, we are conceding too many and not scoring enough and this is proven by our minus 23-goal difference. Davis has done well to re-sign Ikpeazu on loan from Watford after a successful spell last season but the youngster needs to boost his tally if he is to help the South Cheshire side perform the great escape again.

It seems to be all about the loan players this year, not a bad plan in the short term and if that keeps us in the division then Davis deserves a pat on the back. Stoke City loanee Jamie Ness has come into his own in recent weeks and his link up play and range of passing could be the missing piece of the puzzle for a late surge out of the relegation zone.

Survival is looking like a distant dream for many connected with the club at the moment but anything can happen in football and who knows, A win against top of the league Bristol City could be all it takes to kick start our campaign.”

You know sometimes you lose games you just don’t expect to? Well I don’t think many expect us to lose this weekend, so let’s hope this isn’t one of those unanticipated banana-skins and we can head into Christmas top of the pile.


The Exiled Robin

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