Post Swansea Thoughts
An untypical smash and grab by Crewe snatched a point against the league leaders on Saturday. It wasn`t a great performance by any means but a point against Swansea is a gratefully accepted point in the current plight of the team.
The Alex came back to draw 2-2 after clawing back from what looked like an unassailable 2 goal deficit at half time by scoring two goals in the last eight minutes of the game.
I want to start by talking about a controversial figure at Crewe Alexandra. No not Dario, or Steve Holland, John Bowler or even Norman Hassall, but the mercurial Eugen Bopp. He may not be a controversial figure in the eyes of the supporters but he must be to the Alex management and coaching team.
Bopp played his first game since early November at Brighton last week and although we lost 3-0 he gave one of the outstanding performances of the season according to the reports and those who travelled.
We then came to Swansea yesterday, the league leaders rolled into town and Bopp is dropped from the starting line up. Fair enough in the little we have seen of him this season, ten appearances to be precise, he doesn`t seem the most defensively minded player, so for him not to start against the league leaders in a squad with an ultra defensive mentality anyway wasn`t wholly surprising. That and the fact that him and the management have clearly never got on.
Crewe are two down at half down through two blunders, a penalty and an own goal and have created virtually nothing. Until the 77th minute the Alex had done very little to threaten the Swansea goal until Bopp was introduced just in the hope he would inspire any spark within the team.
Within minutes he had hit a 25 yard effort out of nothing which the keeper did well to claw out of the top corner. He then effortlessly floated the resulting corner onto Baudet`s head for 2-1 and in the final minute expertly pulled then ball back for Pope to smash home for 2-2.
Alright so Bopp also hit a 35 yard effort on to the roof of the Gresty Road End and fluffed a free kick into the box so you can see why the management get frustrated with him. He doesn`t need to run around like a headless chicken though, he has natural footballing ability and quite clearly has enough in the locker to improve this ailing Alex side, he just needs a chance, a run of games and a chance to feel wanted instead of ostracised from the team.
Personally I`m not bothered if he was on the pitch and does nothing for eighty minutes, if he can come up with two assists a game then that`s more than the rest of the midfield seem to be able to muster on a regular basis. Why Eugen is on the transfer list is a mystery, a much as why he can`t get a game with the inconsistent performances of Rix, O Connor and Roberts he must be understandably frustrated.
Yet Bopp can still come on the pitch and effortlessly create two goals, without much hard work and without looking two bothered, he acknowledged both the goals but didn`t seem overly interested in celebrating. Despite his flaws this is one man that could save our season from disaster; we don`t need to convince him to sign for the club because he is already here, but maybe the club maybe needs to apologise for the way they have treated him before we really see the best of him. That`s if he gets a chance with a run of games in his favoured position, he deserves at least that.
Talk of Bopp aside, the Crewe performance was better but the players are still making costly errors and not creating anywhere near enough clear cut chances within the game. Nicky Maynard may as well not have played since his come back from injury, such has been his impact in the team.
That`s not so much a slur on Maynard but on the management for not realising that for Maynard to be anywhere near effective you need to put the ball on his boot inside the box, that is a winning formula with Nicky. Maynard with his back to goal with a six foot four defender challenging him from behind is not, and this has been the case for most of the games he has played this season.
Talk of loan returns for Steve Jones and Kenny Lunt should be good news for Maynard as he thrived alongside a similar player to Jonah in Luke Varney last season, and Lunt definitely has the creativity and quality to appease the needs of any centre forward.
Talk of any signings on loan is good considering our lack of permanent signings in January but it`s clear it`s getting them signed on the dotted line that`s the problem. With players such as Gary Roberts tiring and Byron Moore becoming more ineffective on a regular basis, loans are needed not only to bring more quality to the team but to freshen things up.
A draw on Saturday gave us a much needed point though, giving the management team a lot to ponder over the in the next couple of days before the game away at Leyton Orient on Tuesday night. Let`s hope the players can take confidence from Saturday and surprise us with only our second away win of the season mid week. I suppose hope is very much an operative word at the moment though, still very tough times ahead.