David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Davis’

Paradise

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

What an unforgettable year 2012 has been! From the lower depths of League Two to the top half of League One, Crewe Alexandra have been on a one way train ride to the top. November 2011 saw Crewe appoint a new manager, Steve Davis, who, at the time was the assistant under Dario Gradi. Struggling for form and with fans grumblings getting louder by the game, Crewe sat in 18th  in League Two, dangerously close to visiting a territory that I myself hadn’t experienced as a fan, non league.  What happened next can only be described as outrageously unbelievable (Kammy’s next catchphrase)!

Crewe started 2012 with a 1-0 loss to Morecambe at home. Not ideal. After a handful of solid wins and a terrible game against Barnet, which saw us have two men sent off and lose 2-0, Crewe made the long trip down to Essex to play Southend, who had already demolished us 3-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. In the sunshine Crewe recorded their 17th and last loss of 11/12 season. Now, this is where the outrageousness begins…

With a little help from a few wonder goals from a youngster named Nick Powell, the Alex started climbing the table. A fitter looking Crewe Alex were taking the field and grinding out results, which earlier in the season seem next to impossible. What a time it was to be following the Railwaymen. Even teams like United couldn’t match our unbeaten form.

Crowds were improving and the away followings had never looked so healthy.  Hundreds descended on the likes of Crawley, Torquay and Hereford, with thousands making the short trip to Macclesfield. The crowd were out in force and it was certainly making an impact on the results.

With the unbeaten running continuing, Crewe broke into the play-off positions just before the season came to an end. “Dare to Dream” was a phrase bounded about. What had started as a, “let’s make sure we have a solid season after the terrible start and build for next season”, had turned into “WEMBLEY, WEMBLEY”…Crewe had the famous end of season form and we planned not just to scrap into the play-offs, but to gain promotion….

Which we did!!!  After dispatching Southend 3-2 on aggregate in the Play-off semis after the two legs, it really felt as though we had turned a corner. Some 3 months and 16 games previous, they had been the last team to defeat us…it seemed fate that we had to avoid defeat in the second leg to progress to Wembley.

On a hotter than the sun sort of day in May, the arches of Wembley glistened in expectation and with us beating Cheltenham just over a month earlier, it’s safe to say Crewe went their as favourites and nothing less than victory would satisfy 13,000 hungry Crewe fans. One of the goals of the new Wembley set us on our merry way, Nick Powell who was a certain to leave in the summer scored a stunning goal and apart from a few close encounters, victory was never in doubt.

What a season, what an unbeaten run, what a team!

But how long would that unbeaten run last? We had been promoted into a league, which, initially looked very strong…. We couldn’t do the unthinkable could we? No, we couldn’t. Our first league game against a strong Notts County saw us lose for the first time in almost half a year. The inevitable sale of Nick Powell happened in the summer. Man Utd snapping him up. We released a number of players who had been so strong in the run which saw us gain promotion. The likes of captain Dave Artell and Lee Bell had literally put their bodies on the line to get us to League One, but they were soon cut from the team to make way for a younger looking side. Steve Davis took risks, bought in some relatively unknown players, and as I write this now…it seems to have paid off.

After a run of 3 wins in 12 in all competitions and the sale of captain Ashley Westwood to Aston Villa, the opening few months hadn’t been as successful as we had hoped. We had been turned over by Brentford and tactically mastered by Oldham, but I wasn’t worried. There were enough positive signs not to be downbeat and I’m sure king Steve had some tricks up his sleeve.

With 11 wins out of the last 19, Crewe sit in 10th place in League One, 3 points off the play-offs and almost certain of safety from relegation. It’s been a truly unbelievable journey. Watching the team who you genuinely think can beat anything that’s in front of them is exciting. Who says our journey on the train can’t continue to the next station?

It’s difficult to sum up last year in one word, but I think “Paradise” just about covers it.

Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger

Hugh tweets at @Hugh_Wilson

A little excitement and optimism never harmed anyone

Friday, August 17th, 2012

What a time to be a Crewe fan! The star of last season gets sold to one of the biggest clubs in the world, once again showing what a fantastic academy we have in place, we win our first competitive game of the season 5-0 and our transfer window actually excites the fans…oh, and we’re also unbeaten since January.

After the mammoth season Crewe fans experienced last year, nobody could blame us if we hoped for some downtime and an opportunity to recover from the sunburn after our epic win at Wembley in May. Realistically, this was never going to happen. At the start of June, we saw one of our most gifted youngsters get a deserved move to Manchester United. 18 year old Nick Powell, scorer of one of the best goals at Wembley last season, moved to the Manchester giants for a fee believed to be around £4 million.

I personally thought this was great news. Crewe were never going to be able to keep hold of him and it was the first transfer of an Alex player to a top flight side since Dean Ashton’s £3 million pound move to Norwich back in 2005. Our youth system, so famous for the likes of David Platt and Danny Murphy, was back on the map.

With the departure of Powell, this left a gap in the side. He had been the top goalscorer last season and had created a number of others. Our manager Steve Davis had easily won over the fans with the results and promotion, but now he faced another hurdle to climb. The transfer window.

I’m pleased to say he delivered! Five new faces came into the squad, and from what we have seen already, quality has been added. Mark Ellis, was the first to arrive. We had seen from our matches against Torquay that he was a solid defender and its fair to say with the departure of David Artell, we needed a strong centre halve to be brought in.  Another stand out signing was Mathias Pogba from Wrexham for a free. Brother of Paul, Mathias is a striker who will battle for the ball and cause problems for the opposition defense.

He was prolific in pre season and followed that up in the Capital One Cup, scoring two against Hartlepool. As well as filling the left back role and bringing in another winger, eventually we signed former Northampton man Abdul Osman. We have two sensational creative centre midfielders in Ashley Westwood and Luke Murphy, but we desperately needed another body in the centre of the park to add some hustle and bustle in the centre, and that’s what we have found.

Looking to what we already have, this season will see Max Clayton take it up a notch. He has already scored two last minute winners last season, as well as scoring a fairly important goal in the playoff semi-finals at Southend! He has just turned 18 years old and there is no doubt he will be the player everyone will be talking about this season. Like Pogba, he has already notched two goals already in the easy Capital Cup 5-0 win over Hartlepool (Jeff wont be amused) and has also had a decent pre season.

I’m excited and optimistic about the coming season. I think we can continue our unbeaten run, but as we haven’t lost in such a long time, it will be important that we react well when we are eventually beaten, as lets be honest, we are not going to go the whole season without losing. I would say I would be happy with staying in the division, but would it be bad to expect a top half finish? I think not…We have the squad, we have the manager and we have the belief.

Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger

Hugh tweets at @Hugh_Wilson

Technical Knockout…

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Before my visit to Valley Parade on Boxing Day, I could have written a novel full of superlatives to describe Crewe Alexandra’s start under new manager Steve Davis. However, after a truly dismal display, I will keep them locked in a chest and possibly throw away the key.

Bradford was not a fun trip. Over the last few seasons, I have seen some terrible games away from home. The Alex had a shocking run last season which saw us lose 10 away games in a row. I was there at the majority and I therefore feel as though I can judge how bad an away day has been.

I left the living room with the blazing fire and warm turkey sandwiches to embark on a 3 hour drive to pick up my companions and head up the M6 to Bradford. The ground itself is spectacular for a League Two side. Once a Premier League venue, Valley Parade is built into a hillside and is quite a view for a Crewe fan. I approached the game feeling optimistic about the 90 minutes ahead; under Steve Davis, the team had started to look like a decent outfit who could finally defend and grind out results. After a solid draw against top of the league a week before, I genuinely thought I was going to see my team take all 3 points from a struggling Bradford side.

90 seconds into the match, Crewe’s defence exploded, as did my expectations.

A “fluke” goal had not been the start I was hoping for and the game had a feeling of… “What’s changed?” Crewe competed, but the same weaknesses (Defence) were being exposed by the opposition who deservedly lead at the break. The team came out of the dressing rooms with extra belief, we attacked their goal with flare, but then a penalty turned into a nightmare for us. I say this, as it completely changed the game. Great work by Nick Powell on the right and after a slight touch (Debatable) he flung himself onto the grass and the referee pointed to the spot. Cue celebrations by the Crewe fans. Not all though, including myself, who knew full well of Crewe’s record of converting penalties.

What followed could be described as one of the most painful 30 minutes I have ever watched. After a long delay, Lee Bell struck the penalty onto the underside of the bar and down onto the line. The ball was cleared and the chances of Crewe coming away with anything disappeared. After this, the Bradford fans were in full voice and to cut a long story short, they scored two goals and inflicted a first league defeat under Steve Davis.

What was positive to come out of the trip was the players reaction at the end of the match. Bell and Tootle both raised their hands to apologise, the team seemed devastated. This is a side of the team that has not been shown before. Steve Davis walked right over to the fans to applaud them and it genuinely seemed like their performance was a total one off.

The problem Crewe have is goals. Last season they were the top scorers in the division and would just outscore teams. However, after big names left in the summer only 5 teams have scored less. The January transfer window will be interesting. Crewe won’t spend money, but I expect them to be busy in the loan market. A centre forward and centre back need to be brought into the team. We have the potential to be up there at the end of the season competing for the play-offs. Davis has brought fresh ideas to the team which have been welcomed. Just an extra 25% needed to be that team who will be making a late surge come the second half of the season.

Ever optimistic….

Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger

Hugh tweets at @Hugh_Wilson

1404 out!

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

What an innings by an exceptional man and ambassador to football.

Dario Gradi has announced he will be stepping down as Crewe Alexandra manager, handing over the reins to former Nantwich Town and Northwich manager Steve Davis. Having spent 26 years in charge of the first team from 1983 to 2007 and then from 2009 to 2011, Gradi will continue in his role as Director of Football at the club and focus the majority of his attention to the club’s Academy.

Legend is a word which is banded about far too often in today’s game, but it is a word which will appear numerous times in this blog. In 2007, Dario decided to give his assistant at the time, Steve Holland, a crack at managerial duties. It’s fair to say the two years that followed were not Crewe’s most successful. Holland, who had made a name for himself at Alex’s academy, wasn’t the right man for the job, lasting 16 months before leaving the club at the bottom of League One in December 2008.

Following Holland’s departure, Dario stepped in for a short period whilst the search for a new manager went ahead. Former Stoke City boss Gudjon Thordarson was appointed – his approach to the game was not favoured by fans and Crewe were relegated to League Two at the end of the 2008/09 season. After a poor start to the following campaign, which saw Crewe win four out of fifteen games, Thordason was sacked.

Once again, Dario was back at the helm. At the time, he made it clear that he would be taking over responsibilities of the first team until a suitable manager was found. After two years, it seems he is satisfied to leave the responsibility in Steve Davis’ hands.

During the last couple of games, the fans’ frustration has been very clear. Chants at the Torquay game at the weekend from the supporters calling for Gradi to go were getting louder and in his post-match interview he commented on what he heard. Gradi said that he would go when he felt it was time to go.

The performance on Saturday was woeful and Torquay got their tactics spot on, crusing to a 3-0 win. It was one of the worst games I had seen for quite a while. Despite this, I decided to make the trip to Oldham on Tuesday night and that didn’t do Dario many favours. After a battling performance for 65 minutes, Crewe just lost the spirit and went down 3-1 to a poor, but lucky Oldham side in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

I have always been 100% behind Dario as he has done so much for the club, but maybe this is the time for a change, to see if Crewe can try and pull something together, to emerge with a successful season and bright future.

There is no doubting that Dario Gradi is a legend (how many other managers can boast that there is a music group named after them?) But after 26 years at the helm, it does seem like the right time to step down and concentrate fully on the Academy. Gradi will hopefully help nurture more players like Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy, Robbie Savage, Rob Jones, Neil Lennon, Geoff Thomas and David Platt, all of whom have Dario to thank for making them the players they are and were.

Although the 70-year-old Gradi may be taking a step back, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in charge again if things don’t improve, Crewe is in his heart and as we have seen in the past, it may be hard for him to let go completely. It’s safe to say you should watch this space with interest!

1404 not out?

Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger

Hugh tweets at @Hugh_Wilson