Gradi still wants passing football

WITH more than 1,000 games as a manager under his belt, Dario Gradi has seen it all before, writes Derek Davis.The set-up at Crewe Alexandra virtually ensures they are a yo-yo club and the disappointment of relegation is soon replaced with the elation of promotion.

WITH more than 1,000 games as a manager under his belt, Dario Gradi has seen it all before, writes Derek Davis.

The set-up at Crewe Alexandra virtually ensures they are a yo-yo club and the disappointment of relegation is soon replaced with the elation of promotion.

But if Gradi hopes to keep the Railwaymen in the Championship for a third season, after going up with Wigan a couple of years ago, he needs to pick up points at Portman Road today and at home to Coventry next week.

With Brighton taking on already- relegated Rotherham and then Ipswich next week, things could not be tighter.


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Then, that is how Gradi likes it, and going to Ipswich holds no fear for him.

He said: “It will be an interesting game because it is a lovely pitch and Ipswich play nice football. It will be a proper football game. I was watching Arsenal on Monday night and I was thinking we could be facing something similar, as Ipswich pass the ball around in the same way. But we did too against Stoke last Saturday, so it should be a good match.

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“It is a game we can win but you wouldn't want to put too much money on that. We will obviously start as second favourites. But we could have won at Gillingham and, if we'd taken our chances on Saturday against Stoke, we could have won that one too.”

Gradi has been hit with injuries, especially at the back. Chris McCready and Colin Murdock are major doubts with injury, while Anthony Tonkin has been struggling with illness this week.

Billy Jones and Richard Walker are likely to be used as cover for the centre-halves, with Adie Moses stepping in for left-back Tonkin.

Crewe's hopes that striker Steve Jones would pass a fitness test on a hamstring, which has kept him out for the past few weeks, have been dashed, so Luke Varney will join former Norwich City winger Mark Rivers up front.

Former Mansfield Town striker Andy White is likely to be on the bench. The 6ft 4ins White is confident Alex can get at least one point which, with a home game with Coventry next week, may be enough to keep them up.

He said: “Ipswich does look a stern test for us but I know Crewe are infamous for going to places like that and getting a result, so maybe we can scrape something there.”

After being eighth in January, Crewe have slumped alarmingly, going 19 games without a win, which coincided with Dean Ashton going to Norwich City.

Although Gradi tried to sign the impressive David Nugent from Bury, Crewe have struggled to find a goalscorer to replace Ashton.

White admitted: “We shouldn't be in this position now, we should be cruising at the minute and safe from relegation. It's difficult to put your finger on it.

“Of course, you're going to miss a player of the calibre of Dean Ashton but you can't really say it is down to one man.

“There has been a loss of form among a few players and we've not had the luck of the bounce of the ball recently. When you're down, there's not a lot of luck going for you.

“Dario is always trying to get us to pass our way out of trouble and that is what we are trying to do. I don't think Dario will change now, he likes to watch entertaining football and he believes that is the way to get out of the relegation zone.”

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