Six games in and Crewe sit on seven points after two wins, one draw and three losses, but what have we really learned about Crewe so far.
1. Gresty Road is a Fortress and it Needs to Stay That Way
So far this season Crewe have played three games at Gresty Road, winning two and drawing one. During these games the Railwaymen have scored nine goals and conceded none, and if they want to be successful this season that sort of home form needs to continue.
Crewe thrashed relegation candidates Morecambe and Macclesfield both 6-0 and 3-0 and looked dominant throughout. Even when the Railwaymen faced promotion favourites Mk Dons the team looked defensively solid and created chances, meaning that even though the game ended 0-0 it certainly wasn’t a boring one.
At Gresty Road Crewe look like a side who can genuinely challenge for the play-offs this season, the defence looks organised and the attacks look creative.
If the Railwaymen can keep up the good home form and begin to gain points on the road then there is genuinely no reason why a playoff push can’t be possible.
2. Away Form Needs to Improve
All of Crewe’s points so far this season have come at Gresty Road. In the league Crewe have played three games away from home and lost all three, conceding eight and failing to score thus far.
The team looks completely different away from home, the defence looks unorganised and the attack looks lethargic. After the 6-0 loss to Colchester the team looked to turn a corner, despite losing 1-0 away at Carlisle four days later the team put in a much improved performance and were unlucky not to leave with a share of the points.
Crewe finally scored their first win on the road in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday, where they came from 3-1 down to eventually win 4-3 against Tranmere. Hopefully that win on the road will spur on the Alex boys to start winning away from home in the league as well.
The Railwaymen’s next game is away at Cheltenham on Saturday and it represents a perfect opportunity for Crewe to turn round their fortunes away from home in the league and pick up all three points.
3. Kirk and Ainley Need to Play in the Same Side
Before the injury of Paul Green, Jonah occupied the right midfield spot with Kirk and Ainley interchanging out on the left.
However, since Greens injury Kirk and Ainley have been able to start in the same XI, with Kirk on the left and Ainley on the right. When both Kirk and Ainley start Crewe look threatening out wide, both players have the ability to beat their man and deliver a killer ball or choose to cut inside and try a shot themselves. Kirk showed his class during the 3-0 victory of Macclesfield registering a goal and an assist, and despite Ainley not registering the same numbers he still played a crucial role in the victory.
Crewe have strikers that are good in the air, so having natural wingers with the ability to cross is crucial to the way that we play. Bowery is at his best when he is in the air, and if he gets the correct service from Kirk and Ainley then he will continue to score goals for the Railwaymen this season. Having Kirk and Ainley out wide also allows Jonah to play through the centre, and on his day Jonah is one of the best central midfielders in the league.
4. George Ray Needs to Stay Fully Fit
George Ray’s performance against Macclesfield exemplified exactly why he needs to stay fit in order for Crewe to have a successful season. The Captain led by example, he was dominant in the air against a direct Macclesfield side and restricted the Silkmen’s chances to the minimum. Not only did Ray put in a stellar performance at the back, but he also played a key role in the transition between defence and attack.
Ray was constantly playing the ball long and finding his target, his long passing was key in Bowery’s first goal, as it was Ray who found Kirk in space before he delivered a pinpoint cross that was nodded home by Bowery.
Ray’s leadership skills will also be crucial in ensuring that the younger defenders around him keep their heads in the challenging games. If Crewe really do want to improve on last season then the fitness of the sometimes injury prone captain will be key to that.
5. We Need a Consistent Goalkeeper
Richards started the season in goal for the Alex and put in good performances against Morecambe, Newport and Mk Dons, however mistakes against Colchester during the 6-0 defeat saw Richards dropped for Ben Garratt. Garratt had little to do really during the 1-0 loss to Carlisle and even less to do during the 3-0 victory over Macclesfield.
During the week though however, Garratt was arguably to blame for at least 2 of Tranmere’s three goals in the Checkatrade trophy clash again showing Crewe’s need for a consistently reliable keeper in between the sticks.
Personally I would like to see Richards given the chance again because he certainly showed promise at the start of this years campaign.
Crewe need to remember though that they have a good keeper out on loan at Nantwich Town in Will Jaaskelainen, the son of Bolton Wanderers legend Jussi Jaaskelainen.
If neither Richards or Garratt can put together a consistent run of games then it would only make sense to give Jaaskelainen a chance in the first team upon his return.
Picture Credit: Crewe Alexandra