Is The Gudjon Factor Waning?
Gudjon Thordarson arrived at Crewe with a bang; he took a team bottom of the league and a squad nearing their lowest ebb and turned them round, showing form that even some of the League One promotion contenders couldn`t compete with. He`s dragged Crewe from the position of propping the league up, to a position of better prosperity than others that have now consequently brought back into the relegation mire.
After fours win in five in February, Thordarson picked up the manager of the month award and things looked rosy…even unfounded rumours about Gudjon wanting to quit after a spat with the Crewe board didn`t look like it would de-rail the Crewe train and survival looked a near certainty.
Recently though the Alex have hit a bit of a slump and with three games remaining there has been no win in seven and some sections of the Crewe support are starting to get twitchy, not only about the clubs still precarious league position but about Thordarson`s overall ability. Despite the almost god-like miracle he has already performed by turning Steve Holland`s holiday camp of no hopers into a team that at least remotely resembles a football outfit worthy of the League One status, fans are starting to question whether his honeymoon period is over.
Before the 24th of March the Alex only failed to score in two games since Gudjon`s tenure began in January. Since then four vital games have been played and Crewe`s supposedly revitalised troops have only managed to net one goal. With seven games to go and our league status hanging in the balance, Gudjon will be the first to admit one goal in the first four is unacceptable, but what is it down to and can the 'Iceman` turn it around?
Is Thordarson losing his bottle, or are the players? Are the team tired from his early boot camp like training and pushing them to hard? Are the defects so obvious in Steve Holland`s reign starting to show again, after all eleven footballers, most who still turn out for Gudjon, went out there week after week and regularly trudged off with nil poi under Holland?
I have to say whatever happens in the next three games, and whether Crewe stay up or go down, what Gudjon has done in his short time in Crewe is a minor miracle. He no nonsense style of management and revamping of training methods has brought a breath of fresh air through the club and although most would be distraught at the thought of relegation after his earlier heroics, Thordarson must be commended.
He declared his interest in the job from the start, moved back to England from Iceland and was only ever publically linked with the Crewe job, despite many other managerial openings he could have applied for across the country in the last 12 months. The man had a contingency plan for the Alex`s plight and it`s so close to coming off.
His long ball tactics may draw criticism sometimes but this is League One, we could no longer keep up the more fluent passing game in the Championship and were deservedly relegated in the end. I would call it more playing to our strengths and it has clawed us back this far, personally I would be happy to see us lump it for the last 270 minutes of the season if we survive relegation.
I`m sure Gudjon has big plans for the summer in terms of downsizing, bringing in his own players and integrating his methods that don`t involve scrapping for every point because your bottom of the league. That will all a byproduct of still being in League One though, relegation could change all that.
He has built a solid platform so far, one he is confident he can continue to build on, but not in League Two, as he doubtlessly knows that would be a complete disaster from the position we are in.
Gudjon`s nearly dragged us out of a right mess whereby in December Dario Gradi was fielding teams in his interim period that more than suggested he had given up any hope of survival. Nearly isn`t good enough though, it`s time to embrace the heroics up to now and take that mixture of passion and skill on into the last three games, because if we don`t, it will all be for nothing…for me it`s that simple and if Gudjon sees it like that, he could be off too.
The team has proved in the last three months they can more than compete in this league; when playing to their strengths under Gudjon and with his experienced guidance they have troubled the best teams the league has thrown at them. Now is time for the players, staff and supporters to unite to make sure that we can show this again next season in League One, without starting half way through the season from the bottom of the league.
If Gudjon is confident we can stay up and that is the general consensus amongst the players then I`m happy with that going into Saturday`s game. If the nerves which have been evident recently reappear, despite only losing 3 in the last 15 games, another drought in front of goal on Saturday and beyond though and it may not be enough to see us through.
Thordarson is too proud to let his good work go to waste and I`m sure although he won`t be on the pitch on Saturday, he will be kicking the players out through the dressing room door and hopefully onto three points. If the players don`t perform it will be down to them and not Gudjon who has hasn`t changed much since his winning run and won`t suddenly start taking a back seat.
If the players aren`t chomping at the bit and we fall short then they will only have themselves to blame. Cheltenham is as must win as they come, relying on a result against Leicester in the last game, promoted or not, will rattle all concerned, especially with last season`s disgraceful final day against Oldham still very fresh in the memory. If the players want it as much as Thordarson I believe we will be fine…
To quote many Crewe fans, 'In Gudjon we trust` - Just about!