Date: 13th September 2016 at 9:32pm
Written by:

I know it`s a little late, apologies for that, I`ve been slightly under the weather. Today I just wanted to talk about a few things I noticed during Saturday`s game. So without further ado, here we go.

Firstly, I thought George Cooper had a terrific game. Although he didn`t score, I`d be tempted to say he had one of his best games for the first team so far. Every time he got the ball he was confident, and knew he could dictate play. To be honest, he wasn`t up against the best defending from Exeter, who although tried to double up on him, having identified him as a threat as the game went on, they did give him an awful lot of space. Give credit to Coops, though, for capitalising on this space, because on numerous occasions he turned inside and found the time to dictate play. He was unstoppable at times, as he galloped around the pitch, his close control hugging the ball.

He`d quite often switch play out wide to Bakayogo, who made some very positive runs throughout the game, and that was pretty effective. However, what really struck me is the way he endeavoured to mix his game up after turning inside. The runs made by the likes of Dagnall and Bakayogo opened up Exeter`s pretty poor defence and gave Cooper options. As Exeter seemed to be getting used to Cooper sending it out to the left hand side, he carried the ball further and popped a delicate, perfectly weighted ball into the path of Alex Kiwomya, who made no mistake with his confident finish. 1-0.

The confidence Cooper played with reminds me of Nick Powell during the latter stages of his all too short Crewe career. Cooper played like he knew he was the best player on the pitch: I certainly knew he was.

When we back Cooper as fans, he can be brilliant as we`ve seen. We`ve also seen him be not so good, even with our support. However, when things get tougher for him, and all the rest of the squad, let`s keep backing them. I know Stephen wrote something to this effect earlier, but the last thing they need is us getting on their backs, however frustrating it may be.

From a huge positive, here`s a negative: our defence. While George Cooper was tearing their defence apart, I feel Exeter were also finding it a bit too easy to get through. There were a few nervy moments from Ben Garratt, and both of our full backs, and we need to stop trying to pass the ball around just in the hope that the person who gets the ball last will manage to actually do what they should do, which is kick the ball as far away as possible. However, the main question I have is our centre backs. We started with Harry Davis and Jon Guthrie, and I really wasn`t convinced. I`m not sure who to blame here: Davis often gets the lion`s share of the blame, and maybe this is justified, but I just think that a lack of communication across the back line as a whole made for very nervous viewing for Alex fans whenever Exeter looked to counter attack. 

Balls over the top were finding their target far too easily as our defenced was very spaced out and there clearly wasn`t sufficient covering. Maybe you could blame central midfielders Jones and Hollands for this too.

Our defence has always been a weak point, and maybe that`s just the Crewe way. I`m all for it, just as long as we score more than we concede!

I`ve got a couple of other tactical points for you: let`s talk central midfielders briefly. I like Jones a lot as you’re probably well aware. I love the sweeping daisy cutters he plays out wide, as well as his ability to get stuck in. However, given his technical ability I`d like to see him get forward more, get on the ball more, and score more goals! I`m not saying he has to be Luke Murphy, and I always think it`s dangerous to say a player should be more like another, as I feel like they should concentrate on adding what their game needs for the team they’re in. Jones has more defensive duties than Murphy, and is probably better defensively than Murphy. That said, Murphy is probably the better striker of a ball. This is because they’re different players. However, with Hollands playing the metronome role that he does, I think, unless we play three down the middle with one more defensive player, Jonah will have to stay put in the role he`s currently in.

My next (and final) question is, why do we play so many long balls when our strikers don`t challenge for them. Granted, they`re not the tallest and I wouldn`t expect them to win everything, but then why do we lump the ball up to them so much when we`ve got time to play through Jones and Hollands in midfield. I`d like to see one of them drop in between the centre backs and carry the ball forward, looking for good options. After all, we are meant to be a passing team – that`s the argument for us not having a big target man.

Anyway, there you have it, a very good result which sees us up in the playoff positions. Things ain`t going so bad at the moment, are they?