Post Pirates Thoughts
Another home game gone, another home draw secured. Steve Holland`s playing for a draw tactics are finally working but this isn`t going to be enough to stave off relegation fears with the upcoming fixtures.
Of course I don`t believe Holland sends the team out with the intention of playing for a draw at home, but it`s clearly evident at times we would rather take that than risk going for a win. Against Swindon that risk was shortened when they were reduced to ten men, but we didn`t have the quality or organisation to take advantage.
The difference against Bristol Rovers was we were one down at half time, and the first half performance was abysmal. In the first half five or six players looked as though they didn`t want to be on the pitch, and the same old inept defensive errors were apparent, luckily Rovers only scored once.
Such is it a rare occurrence or publicised fact at Crewe, much of the post match press was dominated by the fact that the team were admittedly given a much needed kick up the back side at half-time by the management, to put it lightly. This seemed to have a big affect on the players who equalised just after the restart and showed a lot more endeavour and commitment in the second half. Their effort was in vain though as we couldn`t find the winner, Tom Pope coming closest with a close range effort at the keeper and a curler from outside the area clipping the far post which agonisingly went wide.
Fair play to Popey, he`s an honest hard working lad, he knows he`s not the most technically gifted forward but he works hard for the team and gives the opposition defenders something to think about. I personally didn`t think he had the ability to produce the quality he did for the effort in the final minute, I think he surprised us all and showed he`s not just a big target man, encouraging signs indeed.
Pope admitted after the game he was poor first half and struggled to get in the game, but that the half time rocket from Holland and Baker really hit home. He even suggested that if our improved second half performance was a response to their shouting at then it should be common occurrence, especially before kick off from the start of a game. This sort of motivational technique is unheard of in Crewe but it clearly had a noticeable effect on the players, take note Mr Holland.
Admittedly the first half was one of the worst of the season, and there have been many already, but Holland and Baker showed some guile and astuteness at half time by getting the players to react to what they were saying in a positive manner, even if that was through a shouting at.
Finally it looks like some of their messages are hitting home and although we could have conceded in the second half, the players genuinely looked like they wanted to win. The mess we are in seems to be at long last being realised and the players are starting to take responsibly on the pitch, slowly but surely.
A player such as Michael O Connor who has been talked up for years as a young player is slowly showing signs of promise, with a couple of decent efforts on goal last night and some committed tackling. His passing may go awry more often than not but when he pushes up and out of a defensive position, he really can be threat on the opposition goal and does have that killer pass ability. The management have started to extract the best bits out of the players recently and long may it continue.
With tough fixtures looming the signs aren`t good as we now occupy the fourth relegation spot, but Holland and co seem to be finally turning the corner in terms of realising the position we are in and motivating the players into getting them to do what they want them to.
If it takes another rocketing before the game on Saturday away at Brighton to get the players believing then I`m all for it, hopefully with a couple of new signings in the ranks to boot, not only to bring some much needed quality to the side, but to create some competition for places as well.
Last night wasn`t by any means an acceptable performance at this level but it seems Messrs Holland and Baker have had enough of playing the nice guys and the pressure is beginning to tell. The realisation of our position is now seems to be clear, but whether we have the quality and stomach for the fight is yet to be seen, let`s just hope it not to little to late.
The signings need to come in, permanent or on loan, of that there is no doubt; but we needs players who are ready for a scrap and not just as first team experience or as a stepping stone to greater things. If this is the case we could waving goodbye to League One.
Steve Holland clearly has coaching ability though, Neil Baker can motivate and Dario has over 25 years experience of fighting against our current position and the obstacles it brings. Now is the time more than ever for the three men to come together for the good of the club, and it`s future, by using their individual skills as a unit, to see the club through this sticky period.