Gresty Road is home to Crewe Alexandra, but supporters of the club haven’t enjoyed many comforts over the last few years. Following Steve Davis tasting success in 2013 as his side triumphed in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley, the club’s League One status has come under severe threat. Despite finishing in a respectable 13th position at the end of the 2012/13 season, any chance of The Railwaymen challenging at the top end of the table was marred by losing their proverbial gems from the renowned academy setup.
The Alex are notorious for producing hot prospects and the likes of Nick Powell, Luke Murphy and Ashley Westwood all progressed through their youth system. However, the amount of youngsters catching the eye of bigger clubs has dried up of late, and as a result, Crewe are paying a heavy price. As most lower league clubs will know, your academy can be what funds your club. Raising players before selling them on is something that frustrates supporters, but in the lower leagues it is often a necessity as a reasonable fee can help keep a club afloat. Without the success of player development, you can be left ruing the ratifications.
Although Crewe have never been in serious financial difficulty, they aren’t a footballing powerhouse when it comes to money. Without income from player sales, Steve Davis has been forced to dip into the loan market and the calibre of personnel joining the squad has been disappointing. Of course, as with any borrowed player, fans immediately question whether or not they are committed to the cause. With The Railwaymen languishing at the bottom of the third tier, supporters want to see fight and determination. They aren’t getting it.
Where has it gone wrong on the pitch this season?
Crewe’s fans have witnessed their side narrowly avoid the drop to League Two for the past two seasons, staying up on the final day. However, they will succumb to relegation if they lose to fierce rivals Port Vale in their next fixture. With only 30 points to their name, The Alex are 15 points behind Blackpool who occupy the position immediately above the bottom four. It has been a long, painful campaign for everyone associated with the club.
A combination of being incredibly suspect defensively and devoid of quality in forward areas never stands you in good stead, and The Railwaymen’s goal difference of -32 illustrates how poor they have been. Only Colchester United – a team who are also coincidently destined for relegation – have a higher margin between goals scored and goals conceded.
It is well known that having the correct blend of youth and experience can bolster any side’s chances, but remarkably, the only player Crewe have in their ranks over 30-years old is David Fox. Perhaps that is why they have a meagre return when it comes to points. Up and coming footballers can be excellent technically, but sometimes that counts for nothing if you don’t have the correct mentality. It’s not easy for any player to battle against relegation and I can only suggest that Crewe’s young lads have fracked under pressure.
After sitting through countless clueless performances, I’m sure that most Crewe fans will be hoping that the inevitable happens sooner rather than later. Once they are confirmed as a fourth tier side for next season, maybe the shackles will come off and the players will play without fear. I’m sure the supporters who travel to Vale Park on Saturday will hoping for something to cheer about, but they’ll be very pessimistic towards their chances. It has certainly been a tough season for the club, but Steve Davis’ men have bitten off more they can chew this time around.