Vital Hull asks the Crewe editor his thoughts ahead of tonight’s game
I asked the Crewe editor his thoughts ahead of tonight’s game. Here are his answers.
1. What has Crewe’s pre-season been like?
It was pretty decent, we won 6 out of our 7 friendlies. The one we lost was against a Liverpool side with Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Peter Crouch in it, so not that worrying. We outplayed a strong Derby side in a 2-0 win, although struggled to a 3-1 win over Stockport. The rest were your typical local non-league friendlies. Our defence has looked a lot steadier than the past three years and our midfield has more ‘bite’ to it but it promises to be a struggle up front at the moment!
2. What are the fans expectations for this season?
I think most Crewe fans will be expecting a push for the play-offs. We’ve seen a lot of changes in the summer, including Steve Holland taking control of first team matters, and they’ve all been positive changes. We look stronger as a team and that can only improve with new signings and a more gelled squad.
3. What do you expect from this season?
Again, a play-off push. I think we have a strong enough squad for it, it’s just down to Steve Holland and how he handles his role. At times in the past few years we’ve not been quick enough to replace injured/transferred players and it’s something Holland will have to avoid. At the moment, it looks as if he’s doing just that. With Nicky Maynard breaking his leg, we’re already looking to sign a replacement before the weekend, with Dario we usually had to wait a couple of months to find out if the reserves could make an impact. I’ve said all summer we’ll be in the hunt for the play-offs but could also surprise a few teams; most previews have us as dead certainties for a mid-table spot – I think, given a bit of luck, we could mix it up in the top 6 positions.
4. Is the cup run the best you can hope for or do you think promotion is a realistic prospect.
A cup run is probably not what we’re hoping for. I don’t think too many fans will be upset if we lost on Wednesday night. We’ve had our fair share of big games in the past few years, we’ve played Man Utd at home twice in three years, and whilst they’re great occasions we’d much rather have a clear fixture list for the league. We also don’t have the biggest squad in around, so the less chance of injuries the better.
5. You sold star player Luke Varney to Charlton Athletic. How has that affected the team?
Luke was a big player, but £2.5million we couldn’t refuse. He only had one full season as first choice striker with us and never really proved himself in the Championship, when you see Freddy Eastwood go for £1million less it shows what a good deal we got. I’ve no doubt that Luke will go on to prove himself with Charlton though; he’s got a lot of talent and such a willingness to improve.
When he first went I don’t think we were too worried, we have Ryan Lowe and Nicky Maynard as strikers who scored 33 between them last season so we thought there were still plenty of goals in the team. However, it became clear that Lowe couldn’t be that ‘big man’ up front and without that type of player we look lost up front. Now Nicky Maynard has broken his leg, we are down to bare bones up front.
To the club’s credit they’ve tried to get strikers in all summer, and we’ve been linked to every name under the sun. It wasn’t until Friday that our first, and main, target finally agreed to sign. Lee Barnard from Tottenham should be here before the weekend, but won’t be here for Wednesday’s game. There’s also talk of a second new striker coming in soon too. So hopefully that’ll patch up our strike force sufficiently. We know we no longer have a 30 goal a season man, which is why we have quite an attacking midfield and full backs.
6. Who do we need to look out for – will it be a strong Crewe side that plays on Wednesday night?
It’ll be our strongest 11 I should think. Dario & Steve Holland have always believed in going all out for every competition we enter, even the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. There are a few you should look out for, namely Byron Moore, Shaun Miller and Billy Jones. Moore and Miller have just progressed from our academy and are looking the business. Both are small tricky players, although Miller’s a striker and Moore is a winger, and will give your defenders some trouble with their hyperactivity. Moore won man of the match on Saturday on his debut. Billy Jones meanwhile isn’t the Billy Jones who we had last year, he went to Preston in the summer, this Billy Jones is a £65k signing from Exeter and has slotted straight into the left back slot like he’s been with us for years. He’ll do his damage with his crosses and corners – just depends if we can get on the end of them!
7. Please can we have a score prediction?
I’d like to think we can nick it, maybe 2-1, but it’ll probably be 2-1 to Hull. Our lack of strike force will prove costly.
Thanks to Vital Crewe for helping us with the interview!