Good, Bad or Ugly?
There is no doubt that the signings made in the January transfer window have had a positive impact upon the team. There were 4 signings in all: Gareth Taylor, Jon Otsemobor, Tony Grant and, of course, Madjid Bougherra.
Having reached an unlikely agreement with Nottingham Forest over Gareth Taylor's wage situation, which involves Forest paying around 80% of his wages whilst he is on loan with us, the forward has been subject of mixed opinions amongst the fans. Taylor has played in each of the 9 games since his arrival, but has bagged just 1 goal. In reality, Taylor should have had at least 4 goals considering some of the chances he has had - his double miss against Southampton is perhaps the miss of the season across the entire Football League. So a less than convincing goals return I think you'll agree. However, some would argue that he has made up for this through his contribution to team play. He is probably the best header of the ball at the club, though perhaps disappointingly he has just 1, or arguably 2, assists during his time at the club. His best game was probably the stalemate at Sheffield United, his old stamping ground, with the determination to do well at his former club perhaps the catalyst for a performance offering good movement, excellent link up play and an aerial danger. However, Taylor has gone AWOL in certain games, most notably Watford away. A fair conclusion might be to say that Taylor can be summed up on his debut performance against Plymouth - poor in front of goal, a bit rusty, good team contribution but a tendency to go missing at times.
Record with Taylor in the side:
P9 W1 D3 L5 (6 points from 27)
Glimpses of promise, but largely disappointing. The full back has become slightly more dependable defensively, but still makes poor defensive errors. Furthermore, Semmy hasn't attacked as aggressively as he did during his loan spell - either because he has been instructed not to do so or is occupied with defensive duties at the other end of the field. His performance at Sheffield United was undoubtedly his best, with a good defensive performance and a superb contribution to Crewe's attacks down the right. The majority of his performances have been fairly non-descript, but his showing in front of the Sky cameras will undoubtedly have bought him more time from the Alex faithful. Overall, a good player to have, and hopefully he can progress with us in League One next year.
Record with Otsemobor in the side:
P9 W1 D3 L5 (6 points from 27)
Whilst Grant has not excelled to any obvious degree, he has undoubtedly been a calming influence on the side, ensuring possession is retained more consistently, as well as providing a figure of responsibility within the side. Neil Sorvel was much-maligned by the majority of Crewe supporters. However, this year we have perhaps seen what his value was to our side. He was derided as 'Sideways Sorvel' as he often played short simple passes, as well as the not so often 40-yard through balls - though these are perhaps part of a somewhat romanticised memory of my cult hero - Neil Sorvel. Whilst it was perhaps time for the ageing legend to move on, we have missed his type of player this season, though Tony Grant's sideways passes have been beneficial to us. The desire for each player to be brimming with talent, flair and creativity has perhaps got the better of us - as we also crave for battling midfielders who do the simple things. Tony Grant, along with Neil Sorvel, does the simple things, and enables those who do possess flair and creativity to express themselves. If Grant could tackle and organise as well as Dave 'just off to set up a new business for 5 months' Brammer could, then we would have a seriously good freeby on our hands. However, he can't, and whilst he has done well for us - and probably deserves a 1 year contract, we should not abandon the search for Dave Brammer's replacement.
Record with Grant in the side:
P4 W1 D2 L1 (5 points from 12)
Sorry Sorvs, but there is a new cult hero on the block. Bougherra is one of the Championship's finds of the season, and hopefully one of League One's players of next season. A magnificient debut against Brighton, was followed up by a good first half, and learning curve of a second half at Sheffield United. Madjid then won his third consecutive man of the match award against Southampton, before finally being in a losing Crewe side at Hull. Bougherra - solid yet eccentric - has been the main reason for our mini-up-turn in form. Not only can he defend, not only is he committed and determined, but he can stride forward with the ball in a manner which makes me think we have some sort of Algerian god on our hands, before realising that in all probability, he will soon be performing his magic for some other, probably unappreciative, club. I sincerely hope he does sign a contract with us in the summer, as I truly believe we are the best club for him to further his development with, though the financial allure of the clubs likely to be interested means that this adornful 4 game spell of Madjid magic will be oh so sweet, but in all likelihood, oh so short.
Record with Madjid in the side:
P4 W1 D2 L1 (5 points from 12) + one hell of a lot of smiles, excitement and appreciation