Crewe from Beijing - Part One
Where to start. First off, I hope you are all enjoying the Olympics from wherever you may be watching it as much as I am over here, that`s if you are watching it. GB seems to be surprising everyone with our medal count so far so let`s hope we can keep it up and don`t run out of steam just yet as the games draws to a close.
I`ve been in Beijing now for nearly six weeks and I`ve been trying to keep in touch with all the Alex news from the new season as thoroughly as I would like, despite been half way round the world, but it hasn`t made too pleasant reading so far.
John Bowler put his faith in Steve Holland this summer by giving him the cash to go and buy the sort of quality the Crewe squad has been crying out for. He didn`t have to, he could of put the record on repeat again and give us the same excuses we have heard time after time but clearly last seasons demise was to much for the usually prudent Crewe board to cope with.
The thing is, from what I have read and seen so far, little has changed in terms of league performances and the defence is as fragile as mistake prone as ever. You can have the best strikers in the world and a quality goalkeeper but if the defence isn`t cutting it then you will make no strides at all.
Although Holland claims to be addressing the issue, bringing in no marks on trial week after week doesn`t seem like it`s going solve the immediate problem and then they will have to be 'moulded` into the Crewe way of playing even if the are deemed good enough to be offered a contract. We may be only two games in but we have seen the errors made so far this term on numerous occasions last season and surely even Holland`s seemingly composed nature won`t put up with it much longer.
In pre season I gather we were playing with two out and out wingers, keeping three men up from corners and playing attractive, attacking football, something we were once revered for. Then the league season rolled round and it seems like we have gone back to 'lump it` football and defensive tactics that our players don`t have the ability to carry out. Baudet and McCready are steady centre halves at times but their capability of making crucial mistakes means surely that their reign as our first choice central defensive partnership can`t last?
I can only admit to having seen the goals via the Internet over here, and I`m sure they only tell a small part of the story, but from them it was easy to see the poor defensive positioning and general lack of aptitude from the back four, something that should have been addressed time after time over the summer and pre season, but it seems we still haven`t learnt.
Against Barnsley in the League cup it seems it was a different story, we played attacking football by all accounts with the wingers reinstated and the Championship side failed to cope with what we threw at them but then back to the league at Carlisle and back to the same old Crewe defensive mentality and costly errors.
In his defence Holland has made some astute signings in my opinion, Collis seems like the competent, reliable stopper we have been crying out for and no doubt in time Zola, Elding and Donaldson will all chip in with a decent amount of goals. Joel Grant seems to have the potential to be a good player and although he may have made an indifferent start to the season he is only young and inexperienced and in time should provide the pacy outlet out wide we have been searching for for a while.
Despite his managerial inexperience at league level, Holland isn`t an idiot and realises the defence is an issue that needs addressing. Maybe I`m being greedy but the board have backed him to pay substantial fees for forwards, now its time to get in a proven centre half and strengthen the teams ailing defence which clearly hasn`t learned from the lessons dished out by numerous teams last season.
It seems ridiculous to say after two games but Saturdays encounter with unbeaten Walsall is almost a must win game, or at least a mustn`t lose. Other teams will already be looking at our two results and see us as no threat this season and will play us with great confidence. We might fear Walsall because they are unbeaten with two good results but no doubt they won`t have any qualms about coming to Crewe with nothing less than three points on their agenda, two more points than I imagine we went to Carlisle for last weekend.
I believe it`s necessary, in fact it seems quite obvious, that you have to stamp your authority from the first game on the season and show your intentions early on. From our characteristic limp of a start it looks like despite our renewed firepower up front it could be another frustrating season for the Crewe faithful.
Three points and a convincing performance on Saturday and the tide will turn again and we can all look forward with renewed optimism. Under the current regime and the trait we have for a complete lack of consistency, we all know as Alex fans that things are seldom that straightforward though.