Date:Thursday May 31 2007
Crewe Alex have moved swiftly at the end of the season to bolster the squad with 3 signings within one week! Football/Technical director Dario Gradi has been busy acquiring the services of Stephen Schumacher, Eugen Bopp and Billy Jones.
First through the door was ex-Everton trainee Stephen Schumacher who joins The Railwaymen on a free transfer from Bradford City. The midfielder was a regular with the Bantams and contributed 14 goals in 140 appearances and managed 7 goals in League One last season.
Schumacher joins Crewe on a 3-year deal and Dario couldn`t hide the delight in securing the new mans services: Steven was one of the first players we had in mind. We had discussed the possibility of getting him in before the end of the season, but then we thought he may have gone beyond us…"
'…He has played against us a few times and once we knew he was available, we were interested. I'm sure he wants to come here and resurrect his career with us and hopefully he will be able to help create and score some goals from midfield.'
Just a day later, Crewe followed up the Schumacher signing with Billy Jones MkII. Funnily enough Billy Jones may find himself replacing an outbound Billy Jones in the Crewe squad as the Crewe youngster may look for pastures new during the summer. Jones joins Crewe from Exeter City for an initial £50,000, which may rise to £65,000 and a sell-on clause has been included. The transfer came about as the Exeter left-back`s transfer clause was trigged by the Crewe bid, and Billy was quick to sign, joining Danny Woodards in the process.
The player himself doesn`t appear to be believing his own luck at gaining such a great employer: "It's fantastic to have signed for Crewe. I heard a couple of days ago that Crewe were interested and when they came in with an offer and it got accepted by Exeter, I was really pleased and I couldn't wait to come up and sign.
The people at the club, the club itself and obviously Dario were big influences in making me want to come to Crewe and the ground, the training ground and the facilities here are fantastic, and of course League One football. After the disappointment of missing out on promotion with Exeter I'm delighted to get myself into League football again.
Dario Gradi seems to believe that Jones could become the next "Shaun Smith." Though as someone who watched Shaun Smith during his last two seasons at the club, I would to an extent hope he means Shaun Smith at the time he scored THE winning goal at Wembley in `97.
Dario said (wheres our new first team coach these days?): Billy has a terrific left foot and is good on the deliveries from corners and free kicks. He is very similar to Shaun Smith in that respect. I've watched him a few times and his quality is very good. He has a very good temperament out there and spoke a lot. He is vocal but doesn't rant and rave and wave his arms about."
Good to know he doesn`t wave his arms about I guess? It could get tiresome!
Dario added: 'I am delighted the deal is done and he will go straight into the team. The ones I'm looking to bring in will go straight into the side, with the exception of Colin (Daniel). He is one for the future but he could play if needs be.'
Last but in no means least, Crewe captured the services of former Rotherham and Nottingham Forest midfielder Eugen Bopp. Bopp, who started his career at Bayern Munich of all places scored 5 goals for Rotherham last season in 31 games, including a goal during the 5-1 mauling The Alex were on the end of against the Millers last October.
Dario Gradi (I`m sure he`s not meant to be manager, is he?) believes that Bopp will add the goal machine part of the midfield, following a season that largely relied on the now departed Luke Varney and the talented Nicky Maynard to do the business.
Dario told crewealex.net: 'Eugen had been up to see us a few weeks ago and he is a very intelligent boy, who knows what he wants. I think we only spoke about football and where he could fit in here. We were very impressed by him.
He was once a high flier at Bayern Munich but it was Paul Hart who took him to Forest and put him into his team at a relatively young age."
He is what I call a proper footballer. He is intelligent with his play and he certainly played well against us when they murdered us last season. He is a good player and he wants to resurrect his career a little and go on and play higher. He is still only 23, so he has time on his side."
Next season is going to be a VERY exciting year. These are 3 excellent signings and I hope that the club can continue with any cash made available from the Varney transfer.
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