Crewe Alexandra News: Second Wembley Win In A Row Rewards The Alex's Approach To The Game

 
on April 07 2013 2:55 PM

Crewe Alexandra won their second big game at Wembley in two years, after beating Southend United 2-0 in the Football League Trophy final. The two Wembley wins are a reward for how the Alex approach the game.

Despite spending most of their existence in the bottom tiers of English football, Alexandra have stayed faithful to attacking, passing football and building through youth.

They have resisted the negative pragmatism that often defines those scrapping for promotion in the lower leagues. The approach has made the Alex unique in their section of the game and a first major trophy is a just reward for years of going against the grain.

Their model for team-building is the brainchild of long-time former manager Dario Gradi. He cultivated a reliance on young talent and an emphasis on stylish passing.

Under Gradi's tutelage, the Alex became a conveyor belt for many promising young stars. These stars were always inevitably sold for the profits that keep a club like Crewe in business.

Among Gradi's best finds were future England internationals and Premier League regulars David Platt and Danny Murphy. Others future Premier League players to come from the Alex include Rob Jones, Neil Lennon and Dean Ashton.

Financial reality means Crewe's best teams will always be broken up before they have the chance to mature. However, the Alex simply make their profit, bide their time and continue to develop players.

Steve Davis succeeded Gradi as manager in 2011. As one of Gradi's former players, Davis ensures continuity for Crewe's way of doing things. He has overseen the latest batch of Alex academy graduates.

His precocious young team secured promotion from English football's bottom division last season. They won the League Two Playoff final, beating Southend 2-0 at Wembley in May, 2012.

Inevitably after that success, the Alex had to part with two of their brightest young stars. Midfielder Ashley Westwood joined Premier League outfit Aston Villa.

Mercurial forward Nick Powell signed for prospective Premier League champions Manchester United. Such is life for the Alex, who simply turned back to the conveyor belt to replenish their youthful ranks.

Cat-quick striker Max Clayton has helped fill the void left by Powell. Along with Luke Murphy and Arsenal loanee Chuks Aneke, Clayton forms a skillful trio that adds true flair to Crewe's play.

The three combined to set up the Railway Men's clinching goal in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final, once again besting Southend. Murphy found Aneke with a nice pass and he combined with Byron Moore to position Clayton to nudge the ball into an empty net.

It was a typically slick and intelligent goal that emphasized the quality football Crewe have stayed faithful to in the lower leagues.

Aneke's quality and raw potential has boosted the squad in League One. However, the Gunners youngster isn't the catalyst for a team already bred to play passing football with a flourish.

Where many others become defensive after earning promotion, thinking safety first, the Alex continue to pass and rely on technical, forward-thinking players.

In the English game still too often defined by a kick and rush mentality and roughhouse tactics, Crewe's purist approach remains as refreshing today, as it was when Gradi took charge in 1983.

It has brought them a promotion and a cup success at Wembley in two seasons. That's simply a fitting reward for a club that sticks to its principles about how the game should be played and how to acquire and develop those who play it.

Share this article