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Crewe Preview

By: Richard Hubbert
Date: 12/08/2001

THE NEW SEASON kicks off on Saturday when the Mariners entertain Crewe at a Blundell Park devoid of any alcohol. Hopefully spirits will still be high and the optimistic mood of a new dawn having arrived where May's dusk left off will envelop the home crowd.

Home > 2001-2002 Season > Previews > Crewe (h)

The Manager

Dario Gradi

Entering his 18th season as the Railwaymen's boss, Dario Gradi has still got that master touch as a first rate manager. Known for nurturing young talent into top class performers, Gradi is also a magnificent motivator who always gets the best out of his players, making him the arguably the top manager in the division.

This of course, without mentioning the tight resources he has to survive and the endless critics who year after year condemn Crewe to being certainties for the drop. Crewe will once again start this season as one of the favourites for relegation, but once again will defy the odds, and stay up. This is typical of Gradi's style of management.

The players in his team are not superstars, far from it, but as far as Gradi is concerned, they are there to do a job and do it well. Typical example would be Efbjore Sodje. A centre half who couldn't hack it at either Colchester, Luton or Macclesfield. Now, he is regarded as one of Crewe's best defenders and was an integral part of the team that went 11 home games unbeaten from last Christmas.

They have a team full of people like this, and it's virtually all down to Dario Gradi knowing how to get the best out of his players, making him Crewe's undisputed best ever manager.

Star Player

Dean Ashton

This guy has already been widely tipped for a big money Premier League move after bursting onto the scenes last season. He started just 13 games for Alex, but scored 8 goals! Not bad for a 17 year old! In fact, he was 16 when he made his debut and only signed professional terms this January!

Not only is Ashton lightening quick, but he can use either foot, and has a strong presence in the air, standing at 6ft 1. Ashton also scored Crewe's goal of the season last year, beating three men to send a screaming 25 yard shot into the top corner, at home to Gillingham. All this has apparently alerted interest from Liverpool, but Dario Gradi remains adamant that he will keep his man for a good few years yet. So, do you want the good news? He's injured for tomorrow's game. What a shame.

Past Positions

2000/2001 Season14thDivision 1
1999/2000 Season19thDivision 1
1998/1999 Season18thDivision 1
1997/1998 Season11thDivision 1
1996/1997 Season6thDivision 2

Past Meetings

I can't say that any recent meeting with Crewe has been that enthralling to be perfectly honest. After last year's shambolic showing at home, when we lost 3-1, this game has to be better! In previous years, Town have clinched 1-1 draws at Blundell Park with goals courtesy of Lee Nogan (in 1998/99) and Bradley Allen (1999/00). Away from home, Town have generally done the same. Last year, in Lennie Lawrence's first game in charge we went down with a spirited performance, loosing 2-0. The year before that, we drew 1-1, when really, we should have won and the year previous to that, the game ended in a dull 0-0 draw. Now it's about time for a win against these Railway people.

Crewe Head-to-Head

Last Season

Last season was a typical Crewe season. After languishing at the bottom of the table at the turn of the year and looking doomed for the drop, they suddenly sprang into life and rose up the table to finish comfortably in 14th place.

This was aided of course, by their star striker Dean Ashton, who netted 8 goals in the last 13 games. This great run of results was timed perfectly, meaning they were never involved in the last day dog fight at the foot of the table.

Hopes For This Season

Crewe's hopes for the forthcoming season will be similar to the Mariners. Their first priority is safety. But I get the feeling that they might be hoping for more. With six new signings and the emergence of players like Ashton, they could well forget about the "R Word". Indeed, this could well happen, but the Railway men will be happy just to stay up.


This summer has seen a spree of ins and outs over near the Railway. Six new players have signed and five players have departed. Three of the new signings (Richardson, Navarro and Brammer) only signed in the last few days.

Geoff ThomasFree from Notts Co
Steve Jones£150,000 from Leigh Rmi
Mark RichardsonLoan from Blackburn
Alan NavarroLoan from Liverpool
Dave BrammerFree from Port Vale
Wayne CollinsFree from Fulham
Colin CrambFree to Fortuna Sittard
Chris LighfootReleased
James CollinsReleased
Peter Smith Free to Telford
Mark Rivers£650,000 to Norwich

Visitors Injury List

Dean Ashton, as we have said is out with knee ligament damage, and his strike partner, Canadian born Rob Hulse, is also sidelined. Captain Steve Macauley is another on the treatment table, as is full back David Wright who will be replaced by on loan Alan Navarro.

What Lennie Says

Town boss Lennie Lawrence has today spoken of his excitement for the seasons start, hoping to beat the team that did the double on us last year. "They beat us twice last year, so we will look to reverse that".

The Grimsby manager also said that "one thing that will be certain, it will be a passing game". He went on to add that: "I don't want to do what we did last year, when after five or so games we had to win at all costs". This certainly shows that Lennie will expect no less than three points come 4.45 on Saturday night."

Prediction For Game

Well, after weighing up all the stuff, I think Town should be happy with a point. Especially with a rookie centre half and no Livvo up front. So, I'll go for a 1-1 draw I'm afraid! Town quickly go behind, only to be inspired super sub Johnny Rowan, who comes on to grab the equaliser!

Fishy prediction: 1-1 Honours Even


Click on the link for directions to Blundell Park.

Crewe's Preview

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