As Steve Davis approaches the anniversary of his first year in charge of Crewe Alexandra, the 47 year old manager will sit down in front of an audience of fans this coming Friday to answer questions in a rather refreshing interaction between supporters and management. Likely to be the agenda will be the future of the club, potential transfer targets, the use of the money garnered from sales of Nick Powell and Ashley Westwood in the summer and Davis’ longevity in the face of reported interest in his services from Burnley.
Burnley have seemingly avoided Davis, opting for ex-Watford man Sean Dyche, but as loyalty becomes an increasingly deteriorating commodity in football, the future of the young manager remains a pertinent question following a hugely impressive first year dabble in league management; 10 defeats in 44 games is the record and one that will post his name on the shortlists of clubs with a vacancy to fill, just as long as it takes him to put pen to paper on his proposed new deal.
An offer of a fresh 18 month contract for the talented manager is yet to be signed despite Davis’ vocal claims that he wishes to remain in South Cheshire and speculation will remain until it is all cleared up. Supporters are likely to bring that up on Friday evening as Davis, who hopes to, in his words, “take Crewe as far as he can take them” begins to face queries on that particular plan as the Alex begin to stall on the pitch.
Friday’s grilling will occur on the eve of an FA Cup tie with Wycombe Wanderers at Gresty Road which, if nothing else, offers a chance for Crewe to gain confidence from a welcome distraction from league duty. Consistency however, has been a huge issue so one would expect a result to be another false dawn following yet another disappointing defeat, this time at home to Yeovil, in the aftermath of a promising home win over Swindon Town. Crewe have failed to register back-to-back league victories this season that has yielded 6 defeats, 5 draws and 4 wins, an erratic run of results that appears echelons away from last season’s 20 match unbeaten run that ensured promotion. Such stuttering form provides a macrocosm for Davis away from Friday’s Q and A as he faces questions on the field and has yet to find answers.
Any optimism built from Tuesday’s unexpected victory over Swindon was quickly and effectively extinguished by a clever Yeovil outfit that embodied Gary Johnson’s wealth of experience of lower league football. A frustrated Steve Davis accused the Glovers of reverting to physical, long ball play, but such assessment would have been harsh to a team that utilised two clever, quick wingers, Keanu Marsh-Brown outstanding on the right hand side, and proved a strong counter-attacking outfit.
Yeovil passed the ball well in-fact, around a midfield that struggled to get to grips with possession. In the absence of the injured Abdul Osman, Ollie Turton toiled in a performance reflective of his inexperience while Luke Murphy also struggled to make his mark on the game, unfortunately failing to build on his excellent performance on Tuesday night.
The warning signs were there before Byron Webster swept home from a corner for the game’s only goal, Paddy Madden headed a cross from Sam Foley into the net only to see it ruled out for offside as Yeovil prevented the Alex from getting the ball down to play their natural passing game. Byron Moore and Chuks Aneke were denied by Marek Stech but they were both weak efforts as Crewe’s attack too often petered out with minimal effect.
Mathias Pogba endeavoured up front alone but appeared isolated in his struggles to hold the ball up. Davis rightly bemoaned the absences of Ajay Leitch-Smith and Max Clayton in attack but would have expected a more telling contribution from the likes of Aneke, a casual player becoming far too much of a luxury and Michael West, who in the manager’s post-match words, was completely off the pace. The winger was withdrawn in the latter stages for Brendan Daniels as Crewe improved, but it was all to late as Yeovil’s rearguard action forced the home side to run out of ideas and deservedly returned back to Somerset with a relatively comfortable three points.
Crewe will argue misfortune at times where the ball just didn’t fall kindly, but the harsh reality was that the tally of chances, two Aneke shots and a half-volley from Pogba that cleared the bar the most notable, were counted on one hand. Davis, by reports, cut an angry figure after the whistle sounded, locking his players up for an elongated period before verbally dressing down the referee’s assessor. A more calculated, calmer view was offered later in which he vowed to look at changing personnel and bringing players in which is clearly needed in a week that will bring a lot of Qs the manager’s way. It is up to him, as he tries to prove his loyalty in the run up to the one-year mark of a mightily successful reign so far, to find the As.
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