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Don't be a Swine Don, you were Beta that that, although you need to rebuild from a flaky defence to a so solid Crewe


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July and August 2022

Life in the Championship has started, and it will not be easy.

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The transfer window slammed shut as August ended, and Crewe avoided any unwanted sales, with the interest in most players not even making it to a formal bid, and those bids that did come in being a long way from accepted for players who are more valuable in the short term

The big expense was extending contracts for those who were expiring, with everyone signed when in League 1 being on a max 2 year deal meaning they were all recently signed, or became expiring.  Now Crewe are in the Championship the board are happier for longer deals, but the players also want more money

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Still under budget, but only by around £5k pw, and a huge step up in the financial strength of the league.  The top five highest bills are all over 10 times larger than Crewe are paying, and only one team is within double the wages.

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And the tough start to the season shows the gulf in class.

Not really bothered about the Carabao as more money will come from staying in the league, and it was a fully rotated side that went to Nottingham.  The board are a little upset, but the plan is that by surviving relegation they will forget about the cup.  That just requires avoiding the drop...

Quite a few draws show some promise, but there needs to be a better performance up front.  Against Swansea after going down, and then against Preston there were two minor tactical tweaks, moving the passing from Shorter to More Direct, and removing the instruction to Play out of Defence.

There was also a bit of a change in personnel against Preston with 22a Noreiga given his league debut after starting in the cup game, and Cronin making a start at MC to try and give a bit of a boost.  The test will be whether this carries on into September

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September and October 2022

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Middlesbrough were bottom going into September, and with the win making it two on the bounce, there was some hope in Crewe that there would be a move up the table.  A couple of good draws meant there were positives during the rest of September, but in reality it was a poor month

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October didn't get worse, but neither did it get better with a range of draws.

After the Stoke loss, and a really poor performance, making it two in a row after the Norwich game to end September, there was a formation change to the 2nd trained formation a 4-3-3.  The problem with it is a lack of AMLs in the squad, with Zanzala being the main option, and having to pull in a youth player to provide backup.

Mandron started as the lone striker, but Salisbury was given a chance against Portsmouth, and netted a hattrick before getting injured for a month.

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Crewe are just hovering above the relegation zone, but it is tight, and they keep dropping in, then crawling out.

After being up against Bournmouth, and Portsmouth there havebeen some important points thrown away, and sitting in 15th or 16th would look a lot better

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As a team there is not a huge amount to praise, with the team passing well, and winning tackles, but generally being poor elsewhere

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In terms of efficiency, the positive is that Crewe fall into one of the two impenetrable areas, but they are giving opponents a high number of opportunities, and so even if they only convert 1 in 10, there is still an average of 1.5 goals a game.

At the other end, there has been a drop off in the number of shots, and Crewe started in the Clinical area, but are slowly drifting to be Wasteful, which is not good.

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The board are still positive, and much of that has to do with the low expectations for the season, but they are starting to get a little nervous.  Especially as teams around Crewe are beginning to fire their managers

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Despite the poor season Crewe are having, QPR are jealous, as they are currently sat in the lower half of League 1, and wanted Swine to change their fortunes.

He rejected them, as he wants to either help Crewe survive or he will retire from the game

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November and December 2022

It is fair to say Crewe didn't have the best of runs to close out 2022

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Six straight league losses, and then a loss in the FA Cup to Scunthorpe who are struggling in 17th in League 2.  And Scunthorpe deserved to win.

Goals were scored, but the side couldn't defend with them going up against Cardiff in the 65th minute, and then conceding three later goals, taking the lead against Bristol City before conceding two late goals, and going 3-0 down early against West Brom, managing to pull it back then capitulating.

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Shockingly Crewe are not bottom which shows how poor Luton have been, but they are clawing things back so Crewe could end up rock bottom during January.
Fortunately Huddersfield and Swansea are trying to make things interesing, with only five points separating Crewe from the lofty heights of 20th.

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In another shock the board are not yet fed up of Swine, with him still listed as stable.  It will be interesting to see how long their patience lasts

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January and February 2023

2023 couldn't start any worse that how 2022 ended, but for Crewe to have any chance of staying up there needed to be a dramatic improvement

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And one win a month is not dramatic enough.  Especially as things have become worse defensively, and worse offensively

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Not quite the worst defence in the league, but doing badly.  It says something when only one player in the squad has an average rating of 7.00 or more.

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And that is the GK, with Marsden and Kennington being bit part players, the top two performers so far have been the two GKs.

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The board are still relatively happy, as the couple of reasonable performance are making things look better.  But the poor play is a worry.  Will Swine be given a chance in League 1 next season?

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As with 10 games left, and 10 points from safety there is a very small chance of staying up, and a poor run for Preston has kept them close, but the gap has still widened.

And even if the 10 points are closed up, there is the small matter of the -41 GD to sort out.

So in reality, it is 10 games left in the Championship, before readjusting for League 1, if Swine is given the chance

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Youth Intake 2023

 At this point, with the poor league run, and a lack of funds from the board to boost the quality of the intake, part of me wants Swine to be fired at the end of the season.

But until then, the intake arrives

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Some potential, but the highest PPA player Robb is unambitious, so may not have the desire to get to the top.

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March and April 2023

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The rare sight of multiple wins in a month, and it brought a close to the league season, with only the playoffs in the calendar for May.

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And Luton somehow managed to be worse than Crewe in the run in, with a tight battle to finish bottom of the table.  Crewe had tried hard managing to concede an amazing 96 goals, especially when their GKs gained the highest average ratings in the team, so it could have been much worse.

 

So how do the board feel going into the off season with relegation back to League 1 confirmed

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Not a surprise they are happy with the input of youth as that is the only source of new players.

The plan was to be attacking, but it turns out when the opposition have more of the ball, it is hard to attack.  But the high number of chances conceded make things entertaining...

No players signed, means no players over 30, but the board don't see it that way, instead seeing it as no signings...

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The wage budget is interesting, as Crewe were around £10k under during the season, but once relegation was confirmed the budget dropped to £48k, with £57k being spent.  This is all because there was a max length of 2 year contracts (from the board) when in League 2, so half the squad started the Championship season on expiring deals, and when negotiating wanted Championship wages (or at least an increase on their League 1 wages), and with no way of replacing them there was a need to sign them or risk losing them for free.

The one saving grace of this is some of the agents locked in a relegation release clause, which although generally rubbish because it means players will move on and it will be hard to get a sell on fee added, does mean that it is likely that some of the higher earners will be moved on, meaning the wage issue will be resolved.

The required status of signing players to sell for a profit is one that is intriguing, as it will be interesting to see if players being moved on count, or whether Swine needs to try and game the system.  There are a number of free agent players who crop up on scouting reports, and he could sign them, tag them as a signing, then either offer them for loan with the idea of boosting their value, or just offer them out straight away despite the possibility that will cause morale issues.

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In terms of the goals for the season, finishing 9 points from safely was good enough, as was going out of the FA Cup to League 2 opposition which is odd.

And Swine is set to become a free agent himself

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But despite all the evidence to the contrary, the board are happy and want to offer him a new deal, so he agreed to sit down to discuss terms.

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Intake Flashback

While it is now the end of the 3rd season, due to the aborted time at Swindon, and arriving at Crewe after the first intake (and not bothering to search through the squad to find the intake players who were signed) there have been two intakes during the reign of Swine

On 12/12/2020 at 19:35, scousevasey said:

Youth Intake 2022

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This was the judgement of Bluhm the HoYD for both intakes when the arrived.

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And this for comparison is the intake after a full season at the club.

Only two players managed to break into the starting lineup for the first team during the season, 22a and 22b which may look bad, but there are 82 players at the club, and it was at a higher level of competition than previous seasons.  As a few of the first team players underperformed, and others have transfer interest there may be a couple more getting the chance to play.

22j Pomeroy stands out along with 22n Mansell as their PPA has risen, with those two and 22f Kwelling all reaching the lofty heights of 1.5 PCA stars.

A slight worry for 22g, 22h, and 22i who are showing as having silver star ability, so there will need to be some work with them to boost their ability this coming season.  They are still only 17 so can't be written off, but it is something that stands out in the review.

The aim will be to sort out a plan for 22a Noreiga as he played well but so did Jääskeläinen.  Both have garnered interest during the season, so it may be resolved, but a loan deal may help them out, and avoid a controversy longer term.

22b Bailey,  22j Pomeroy, 22n Mansell, and  22f Kwelling will get a chance to play on occasion to help them improve, and some of the other members of the squad will move to the U23s or go out on loan if a deal can be made.

On 26/12/2020 at 18:36, scousevasey said:

Youth Intake 2023

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Same HoYD, so the same level of judgement, but these players have only been at the club a couple of months

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Instantly two things stand out.

1) Those who were 0.5 stars PCA on arrival have dropped to silver stars now.  Not the end of the world, but shows some consistency

2) 23b and 23c have seen an increase in their PPA, with 23b Ward looking particularly interesting as he makes it to 5* PPA.

As this is still early there is not a huge amount to draw from it, but it shows some of the variability around the stars, and the importance of not making a snap decision, particularly around the 2022 intake.

 

 

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2023-2024 Planning

Not quite a squad review, as there is a bit of transfer interest and I am waiting to see which rumours are realistic and which are nonsense before committing players out on loan as this had an adverse effect last year with Zac Williams going out on loan to QPR, but he would have ended up playing if he was at the club

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This is the players who appeared for the first team in some way during the last campaign, sorted by their average rating.

The top two are the two GKs, then after a couple of players who are skewed due to the low number of games played it is two STs, and then Zac Williams who was out on loan.

Not a brilliant sign as that is every player who averaged a 6.74 or higher, so there were no real stand out performances of high quality.

Looking at the PCA and PPA of these players there is a lot of 1.5-2* PCA, and so working out which of these players deserves to play will be important, as will considering which players have probably reached their ceiling due to age, but not the PPA, and whether there is another option that may be slightly worse in the short term, but will be better in the long term.

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I am not sure if this is accurate, as it is still June, so the team are still listed as in the Championship, but if the board only expect the team to fight against relegation there will be a lot more room to blood youngsters without worrying about failure.  The previous L1 season expectation was to be mid-table, so I expect it to revert to this, but that will become clear as June turns towards July

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22a Noreiga hadn't signed a professional contract before turning 17, but as June became July he only had a year left on his contract.  So he was offered a new deal, having turned 17 on the 22nd of June, but Brentford also offered him one, and he took the £2.9k p/w they offered over the £500 p/w Swine had put on the table.

So the deal is automatic with them poaching a youth player under contract, and while it could reach £850k, he is unlikely to make an international appearance for England.  He is also eligible for Trinidad and Tobago too so there is a slight hope he earns that.  Currently he is worth £475k, so there wouldn't be any profit at this stage.

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It turns out the board expectation wasn't wrong, but that the team are expected to be fighting against relegation again.  Not entirely sure how this was worked out, as two seasons ago Crewe were predicted 13th going into the L1 season, and they haven't really lost any key players since then, with players getting better through playing at a higher level.

Oh well, challenge accepted

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Preseason went as well as expected.

Swine booked the games against the Dutch Youth teeams, and last run of games apart from the Man City game.  While his assistant thought that there was a chance to cause some injuries, so booked in games against Telstar, Ajaz, and City's youth, while Market Drayton needed to be fitted in due to their affiliation.

Wins against those who should be beaten, with Everton being the stand out surprise.

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And while the bookies still expect Crewe to go down, Luke Offord is expected to be a stand out performer.

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August 2023

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Two transfer dealings as the transfer window closes.

22a Noreiga will be missed as he was pushing Jääskeläinen for the starting spot, but as he wasn't professional he was lost.  Ng had a relegation release clause of £475k, so when Rotherham showed interest, Swine was able to negotiate them up from £250k, past his value of £375k to £400k +50% of next sale, sacrificing £75k up front for the windfall at his next transfer.

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Having asked the DoF to try and sort out some loan deals he wasn't able to get any interest in the players, meaning the U23s and U18s are fairly full

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It is fair to say the season has started poorly, but with low expectations there is the possibility that Swine could oversee relegation for a second consecutive season and not get fired.

But he is struggling for ideas about how to improve the squad's performance.

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August and September 2023

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The performances have not been great, with the defence managing to do relatively well, but the attack are creating chances and doing nothing with them

Zanzala and Mandron have both been in the news for their goalscoring droughts.  Salisbury and Onyeka have both picked up long injuries.  So things are not going well.

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The board are still relatively happy, and it is telling that they see last season as a success.  Maybe a relegation is on the cards

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By the time the season kicked off, Forest and Coventry were predicted to be the top two in the league.

Shrewsbury started the season with five straight wins.

That was the first three league games, so Swine was relatively happy to come out of the month with a point.

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Cambridge are among the bottom teams, so that was a relegation 6-pointer early, with decent points picked up against Lincoln and Blackpool meaning that the team are managing to scrap a few points.

What is noticeable, Forest result aside is that the defence have only conceded 2 goals against Burnley's U23s and Grimsby.  That coincides with a switch to the 5-2-1-2 formation, dropping the DM-HB back to be a DC-Lib as when playing as a HB he was continually defensive when on the attack, then when the ball was lost would start to move up to the DM position and have a long ball played over his head.  As a Libero he is dropping with the attackers and meaning there are far fewer opportunities where the attackers outnumber the defenders.

The next stage is to get some goals, and then Crewe will shoot up the league

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October and November 2023

This run of time saw Swine garnering some interest from other clubs.  Both Blackpool and Charlton, both of League 1, decided to change managers, and offered Swine the chance to interview.  He rejected them, but did enquire elsewhere

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Mainly because the season is shorter, and there has been a solid run of games that has drained the squad, with some niggly injuries, and a need for rotation including some of the weaker players

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22 hours ago, scousevasey said:

Zanzala and Mandron have both been in the news for their goalscoring droughts.  Salisbury and Onyeka have both picked up long injuries.  So things are not going well.

After the poor striking run in September, and with the injuries, Lewis Preen was called up for a game or two to try and allow Zanzala, Mandron and Ainley a breather and a chance to recover with the regular run of games.

After scoring four goals in his first three games he has been a regular in the team, managing to get to five goals for the season in one month.

This run of games saw Crewe start to move away from the relegation zone, with only a poor result against MK Dons to blot the copy book.

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November started badly, with Sunderland gaining revenge after losing in the Papa John's Trophy, and Wigan squeaking a close one.  Preen had been dropped here due to a slight knock and it turns out the lowly rated 19 year old is a bit of a talisman.

A poor game against Charlton in the FA Cup, before squeaking past Grimsby in the PJT, with the extra point for winning on penalties helping with qualification for the second round.  Preen then managed to secure passage to the 2nd round of the FA Cup against now managerless Charlton, before securing three more points in the league

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He has been playing up front alongside Ainley with either Griffiths or Mandron behind, or alongside Zanzala with Ainley dropping to AMC, and it has worked well, especially on the counter attack.

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Squeaking through in the PJT, with the win on penalties needed otherwise Sunderland had the GD advantage, although Crewe had the head-to-head advantage.

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With the wins in the FA Cup and the PJT, expectations have been met in all of the cup competitions, meaning the board are happy, and currently happy with the league position.  With League 2 Fleetwood and Conference Dagenham and Redbridge up next there is the potential to progress too, with a juicy money spinner a possibility in the third round of the FA Cup.

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In the league, there is a 7 point gap to the relegation zone, and only 8 points to the playoffs, so Crewe are well placed.  After the poor performance in the Championship there is no aim to be promoted, but moving towards the playoffs would be nice.

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The extra benefit of a clause coming in, with Celtic losing out on £56k of their clause from Hull.  It would be nice to benefit more from this sale, but the club currently have £5m in the bank so there is no rush.  That sum is dropping slowly, by around £150k each month, and there is some Youth Facilities work ongoing that will cost around £2m when it is completed in September 2024.  But there is more money due in from clauses regardless

There will be £40k from selling Beckles, £100k from Lowery (despite him no longer being at Celtic), and £333k from Pickering before the Youth Facilities are finished which will help.  And there are two clauses currently available to be bought out.

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Noreiga only has a 15% of profit clause, so to earn the £34k available, he would need to be sold for roughly

£34k @15% of profit is ~£22k as 10%, so a profit of £220k, over the original £650k, taking the sale to a total of £900k.  (I am not sure of the clauses that are unlikely count to this, but they could boost it to a required sale of 900+210=1.1m+800= £1.9m to reach the same value).

As his value is only £375k, there is the question of whether he will be sold for anywhere near to £1m let alone 2, but there is also no rush to sell the clause

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Brentford only have three GKs across their three squads, with Balcombe being a bit of an oddity.  He has played 19 of 20 games this season, yet is transfer listed for £95k.  Which means if he is sold would put Noreiga in line to play, even if it is just in cup games.  As Noreiga is the highest valued of the three, but the only one in the U23 squad it will be interesting to track, so I have sent a scout to keep an eye on him.

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We can also get #£600k from Rotherham for Ng's clause, which is easier to work out as it would mean him being sold for £1.2m while valued at less that half of that.  He has played 13 times in the league this season, but Rotherham are 23rd in the Championship and if they are relegated then there is a chance his value drops or he is sold on the cheap.

Again a scout has been dispatched to find out more about the situation, as it may be worth cashing in on this before it drops, especially as Ng is slightly older than Noreiga.

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The board are happy with the way things are going, which is nice.

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Stats wise the performance has improved massively, with the team being pretty much average.

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And while not perfect the efficiency stats are improving too.  Ideally the defence would be a bit quieter, but they are now impenetrable instead of leaky, and further forward it would be nice to have more chances, but when they arrive they are generally being taken.

 

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Intake preview

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At the start of the season a striker would have been high on the list of requirements, but with Preen stepping up it is less urgent.  Although it would mean there was a future quality partnership of Preen and the player from the other Newcastle.

Shame about the rest of the players coming through

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December and January 2023-2024

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On paper December was tough, as we reached the return fixtures point of the schedule, and from Forest on the 19th faced four teams in and around the promotion-playoff picture in a row.  With it being the Christmas run of games made things harder too.

A rotated side lost out to Fleetwood in the PJT, and there was a bit of a drop in performance, coinciding with a couple of injuries, highlighting the lack of quality depth in the team,  But the Forest and Coventry results were real positives and meant the turn of the year was looking positive

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Another big loss, this time to West Ham in the FA Cup caused a wobble, before a recovery as the month went on.  The Oxford game was theoretically even, with the xG for both teams between 1.5 and 2.0.  But it was a horrific defensive performance.  Annoyingly we were down to our 2nd string GK, Booth, due to injuries, but he performed well against Charlton, then didn't seem to be able to catch a ball against Oxford.  The one saving grace is Oxford are another of the teams fighting it out at the top of the league, so not a team Crewe are really battling with.

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A true sign the game went badly...

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All told the performances are changing slightly, with the defence moving towards leaky due to the big losses against Oxford and Walsall.  But the attacking side is looking better.  Still clinical, but starting to be less passive.

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All told, 15th is a good position considering the aim is to avoid relegation.  9 points clear of the drop with 13 to go, although it could look more precarious if Blackpool and Colchester take advantage of their games in hand, the maths won't change.

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The board are still happy.  The loss against Oxford was disappointing to everyone, so there is no shock there.  The interesting one is about Adebisi, who was left without a top backup during this month, with Booty picking up an injury, so it was difficult to give Adebisi a break, and his performances suffered accordingly.  When using this formation at Lugano on FM20, I needed 3 WBs on each side (roughly a starter, a rotational option who could come off the bench/start 1 in 4 games, and a youth project who was going to step up in a season or two), and the depth is not quite there

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Aside from the poor results, this is why the board are happy.  Three competition expectations passed.  The other close to being passed.  Culture passed too.

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Youth Intake 2024

This comes through just before the end of March, as opposed to the usual early April.  No idea if that makes a difference

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The preview highlights as striker from Newcastle(-under-Lyme) who should be key

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On arrival the DoF (went back and realised that the HoYD wasn't responsible for the update, so that has been changed), and there are a couple of notes to consider

- Dougie Downes is the highlight

- Chris Coles and Philip Buckley have been influenced by the DoF, so it will be interesting to see what can be picked up about that

- Iwan Merry has been influenced in terms of mentality by the DoF

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So Downes is out ST from NuL, and comes through looking reasonable

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He won't start yet, but has the potential to be great.  With a Fairly Determined personality and 17 Det attribute there is a good chance he makes a reasonable improvement towards his PPA

Buckley and Coles are both media friendly, but there doesn't seem to be a stand out attribute for them

Merry is one of two GKs in the top three of the intake by PPA.  This is a positive as we lost 23a Noreiga so need a GK to come in, but both are more PPA than CA, which is the case across the board.  What will be interesting is that Merry is Fairly Ambitious, and his rival for the gloves Barnard is Unambitious, so following their development may be interesting from a personality standpoint

 

Nobody looks like they will break into the team straight away, but there is a chance for them to develop, especially as the main squad is very young, and this summer is likely to be a season for a cull of some of the lower PPA youngsters to ensure a suitable amount of time for the incoming players to make a difference

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February and March 2024

After some poor results around the turn of the year against some of the top teams, this was the lull in the schedule that brought some of the weaker teams, and it was going to be important to take advantage of the 'easier' games

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Plymouth were another playoff chasing team at the time, and the poor result, tied with the poor result to end January meant that picking up the two points in the rest of the month was important to avoid too big a slide.

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That paid dividends as March began, with two strong wins against Doncaster and Sunderland.  The game against Luton was a poor performance, going 2-0 down early on, and struggling to make an impact during the first half, there was a glimmer of a chance to snatch a draw, but a 2nd goal was offside, and Luton were able to hold out.

The game against Wigan was poor from both sides, and then the win against Bradford was a double boost.  Firstly there were 10 players, although only 5 from the first team squad, away on international duty, including Jääskeläinen in goal, meaning Booth gets another chance.  Secondly Bradford were on the verge of relegation, so the expectation was that they would come out fighting.  Instead the 1-0 win saw them relegated.

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With only five games left for Crewe, although there are a handful of teams with 6 games left, they are comfortable mid-table, and sit 14 points outside of the relegation zone.  So they need two more points, or for MK Dons to fail to collect the maximum number of points in any game to confirm safety.

Of those five games the highest team currently is Walsall, and it does involve a trip to basement team Crawley, so it would be a real shock to get relegated at this stage.  Which means attention can turn to the next season, and once survival is mathematically guaranteed (hopefully in match 1 of the run in on April 1st) then there will be a few promotions from the U23s to be given a chance due to positive performances in training and impressive development.

There may also be an opportunity for 24a Downes to set records as the youngest player for Crewe, as well as any standouts in the upcoming (April 2nd) intake game.

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April and May 2024

The final run in was fairly relaxed due to the events of March

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A loss to Barnsley was poor, and as MK Dons won it meant the quest to avoid relegation went on, but the point against QPR was enough to confirm safety.

That meant a heavily rotated and very young side took on bottom side Crawley and then Wimbledon, with their lack of experience showing and not performing well.  But the Wimbledon result looks worse that it was, with the xG totals being fairly close, and Wimbledon managing to score all four goals in a short space of time in the first half due to some poor defending and keeping from the untested backline.  A decent second half also included a new record, breaking one held by Crewe already

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The best bit about this is that 23b Ward is a DC, and scored earlier this season from a corner, so that is twice in a season the record has been claimed

In an attempt to ensure morale didn't drop too far, a stronger team played against Walsall, who were poor but did enough late on to snatch a winner in a game that was important for them

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It means Crewe finish in the bottom half, but well clear of relegation which was the aim for the season, and gives a good platform for the next campaign

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2023-2024 Season Review

After the expected relegation of 2022-2023, this was a season all about consolidation and avoiding a slide too far.  With a few players having relegation release clauses there was the possibility that some key players might leave, and while that would have lowered the wage bill, their age and experience was required to support what is a very young squad.

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Only three players left this season, and two of those make a decent impact on their new squads.

Ng will drop back to League 1 again as Rotherham finished bottom of the Championship.  He is currently valued at £1.3m, with a 50% sell on clause that can be sold for $462k.  The club don't need the cash urgently, but as he is being relegated it may be worth it.  The hope in holding off will be that Rotherham make a good start to life in League 1, or that his performances in a relegation fight mean someone in the Championship moves in for him.

Daniels will be sticking around in League 1 too, as Grimsby just missed out on the playoffs.  Not the worst player, but behind younger players in the pecking order, it was no real loss in seeing him go.

22a Noreiga made his only Brentford appearance in the cup, so the hope is he can kick on and claim his place, and boost his value for the 15% of profit clause we hold for him.

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In terms of clauses this is all of them at the club.

22a Noreiga is unlikely to hit all three in full as there is one for an international appearance.  Crewe do get £20k for the next 40 league appearances, so there is hope for a nice boost if he can get in the team.  The 15% of profit clause is available to cash out but is not worth it yet, especially as he is still young.

Beckles could earn us 50% of a next sale, but as he is 32 and only worth £24k there is not likely to be anything coming further.  But he does net us another £60k in instalments that are guaranteed.

Dale is the only clause that was in place before Swine appeared at the squad, and is worth 20% of profit with him being at Shamrock Rovers.  Not able to be sold, and unlikely to be worth a huge amount.

Ng was covered above

Pickering is the most exciting one.  August sees the end of the instalments for his transfer with £333k coming, but the other clause is the key one.  It is 50% of the next sale, and he is currently worth £7.25m at Portsmouth who finished 17th in the Championship.  Swine has sent his scouts to sniff around, and it looks like Derby are interested, and they have just achieved promotion from the Championship.  No idea if he is good enough to play in the top division, but hopefully there is a transfer with a promotion premium that will net a decent fee.

Most of the money at Crewe is due to their season in the Championship, and there will be a drop in finances due to the improvements to the Youth Facilities that have begun, so getting a buy out of this clause next season may be important, even if it limits things to around £2.5m.  Obviously him being sold on for a fee between £10-20m would be ideal, but probably unlikely

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The reputation and revenue figures are as expected due to the factoring in of relegation.

The top shirt sales is a little bit interesting, with Zanzala, Ainley and Mandron being three of the better attacking players, and Jääskeläinen is probably the best player at the club.  Finney is a bit of an outlier as he started the season as a mainstay in the midfield, but is being usurped due to average performances.

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This shows the Finney issue, with Kennington and Griffiths claiming the MC slots, although Griffiths does also fill in at AMC at times.  This is pretty much the strongest line up, with the only possible change being to draft in Ainley in any of the front three positions.

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Lewis Preen started the season in the youth teams, and was only called up due to injuries to Salisbury and Onyeka, and has staked his claim to be a mainstay with 15 league goals, 18 overall, and he was pushing Zanzala for the Player of the Match total.  But to come from nowhere and nearly sweep the awards is pretty decent.

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Even with that it is a bit of a surprise that Preen makes it to the Crewe best XI, even if it is just the bench.

Jääskeläinen, Sass-Davies, Offord, Adebisi, Booty, Finney, Ainley, Zanzala, Johnson, Mandron, Lundstram, Griffiths and Preen are still at the club, with the majority secure in their starting roles meaning things are looking good for developing into the next couple of seasons

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A mid table finish, with a pretty much average season sums things up.

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Defensively Crewe allowed lots of shots but were fairly decent in stopping them, moving between Leaky and Impenetrable depending on the recent results.  Going towards the end of the season, Crewe were the most clinical side in the league, but were slowly overtaken despite not dropping off too much.  They were never Aggressive, hitting teams on the counter attack most often, but were good at converting their chances at a decent rate throughout the season.

A review of the performances will follow

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2023-2024 Squad Performance Review

The aim with this is to look at who played by position, and plan out what happens for next season, in terms of squad development and improvements.  Having looked at the first team squad there are 17 players aged 20 or older, with four of those being 20, meaning league registration won't be a problem next season, but some of the older players might get upset if they are not playing while hitting their peak ages, so there may be a couple of movements due to that.

After this review, there will be an internal consideration of the U23/U18 squads to look at who should be moved on as there are 92 players on the books as May 2024 continues.  This will drop slightly as some contracts were not renewed, but should probably come down a little more to minimise the outgoings from the club

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Three players made it onto the pitch in goal, with 24c Merry being blooded for two games once relegation was ruled out, managing a clean sheet against Crawley, and conceding four to Wimbledon.  His mitigation was the fact that a young inexperienced team was in front of him, as evidenced by his 7.05 average rating despite a 4-1 loss.

Booth only played when Jääskeläinen was on international duty or was injured.  Annoyingly this season, as most of the international call ups came with players who were listed as not being key or important there was no option to postpone games, but Booth performed well when called upon considering the drop in quality and in age.

Jääskeläinen kept Crewe in a lot of games this season, and was solid throughout.  If he garners any interest this off season there will be a drop off in quality to Booth probably being next in line, but hopefully the Finn will stick around for a while longer

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Annoyingly to get every defender on the screen, there are some DM/MCs shown but they will be glossed over at this point.

Offord was a key figure this season, moving between Libero and one of the wider DC positions.  He wanted to move in the summer post relegation, and was persuaded that as he had a relegation release clause of £4.5m that he would wait for it to be met.  He dropped this concern at the end of the January window when there were no offers, but raised it again as soon as the season ended, and after a low bid was rejected has handed in a transfer request.  Keeping him will be tricky, and keeping him happy trickier, especially as there is no way any team will offer anything near the £4.5m release fee, or his £4m asking price.

Sass-Davies is one of the old guard at 24, and settling in a a consistent part of the defence.  He usually takes one of the wider DC positions, but with Offord possibly moving this may have to change.

Adebisi was the mainstay at WBL this season, and is developing into a good quality player.  It is possible there is some transfer interest in him this year.

Woltman is the other player used at Libero due to his comfort on the ball, but he is only rated as 4 silver stars in the position.  He performs well considering his young age, and will be key over the next couple of seasons in defence.

23b Ward is a future Crewe star, stepping in this season when Ng was sold, and performing admirably despite his tender age.  He generally played DC alongside Offord at Libero, but did get games when Woltman was central due to injuries, and was starting to cement his position regardless of others as the season wore on.  If Offord does leave he is likely to step up, and perform well, but the issue will come with the bench getting weaker.

Johnson was the starting WBR, but played less than Adebisi on the other side as his backups stayed fitter so he was able to be rested.  One of the better performers, who is after, and due, a new contract but was trying to price himself out of a deal earlier in the season it could develop into a problem going forward.

Booty is a backup WBL, who can fill in at MC and has been training as a Libero due to his quality on the ball.  He only appeared as Libero in the two late season games full of rotation and struggled in part due to the change of position and in part due to the lack of support around him.  He is one of those players who suffers due to their versatility, as well as suffering a fairly major injury this season, but is a key part of the depth at the club.

Williams (DC) became the bench rotation option after Ng left, and played well when called upon, and is likely to be the regular bench cover for DC next season if Offord goes.  He could develop as Libero due to his comfort further up the field, but the (DC) note shows he is much better suited to being at the back.

22j Pomeroy was brought into the main squad as WBR cover due to an injury, performed well, and stuck around rotating in at WBR regularly, and often getting the nod over 22b Bailey who started the season as second choice but who also played at MC.  Both of these youngsters are developing to play at WBR, so there are teething problems, and with a quality starter in front of them they will struggled to cement the position, but they are both consistently shown as being among the best training performances and have played well when called upon

Green (MC) and Wood are really MCs, although Wood is retraining as a Libero but didn't really get a chance to play there this season

Buchanan and Ikechukwu were both called up to play due to Booty being injured, and Buchanan showed some quality so was given more opportunities as the season went on.  With the physical stresses of the role requiring 3 players around the squad it is likely that Buchanan will be the 3rd string development WBL next season, although Ikechukwu provides so flexibility across the pitch.

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This group suffers from the issue above with some players being listed out of position.  Those that have been covered before will be ignored.

With only two MC slots available this is a long list, but it does also contain some AMC options who will be covered next.  The structure this season has been for the MCR to be a Mezzala, with the MCL being a Box to Box player.

Griffiths started the season as the backup AMC, but snuck a few games at Mezzala and performed well, pushing for more games in the deeper role, and that allowed a bit more attacking intent on the field which usually worked well.  He is likely to do the same again this season, with the MC role being better against weaker sides.

Lundstram and Finney started the season as the first choice pairing, but due to fitness issues, opportunities came for other players who managed to stake a claim, and it became a bit of a jumble.  The aim for next season will be to work out two or three pairings who can play together regularly to build consistency, and it is likely that these two form one such pairing.

Kennington is one player who forced his way into the starting line up, and is likely to be part of those pairings alongside Griffiths next season.  He played well when called upon, and made it difficult for the more established Lundstram and Finney to claim their places back

Green (MC) started as a rotation option but struggled to stake a regular claim for a place, and was pushed by the development of some younger options.  He deserves another look, and as he is comfortable at the back is another candidate to train as a Libero, so Swine will have a look at that this off season.

22m Mansell was called up during a brief injury crisis and stepped in well, managing to make a decent fist of things, but is likely to drop down to the U23s again, with the aim of pairing him with 23c Jeladze in that side so they are build up a relationship ready to step up to the first team.

Marsden and 23d N'Guessan were called up for the rotation games, with Marsden getting a cup game too, and are reasonable options for the future, with both will need to kick on with their development during the next season

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The plan this season was for Salisbury to continue his development and become a leading player to allow for Mandron to be aged out as he passes 30.  Instead he picked up a long term injury in training during August, so there was then a cycle of players called up and getting injured with Preen making the biggest impact.

Ainley is a solid option at both AMC and STC, with more pace that Mandron and Griffiths at AMC which is useful for the counter attack, but also leading the line well when required.

Mandron has the experience to pick teams apart, but is settling more into the AMC role than a STC, as shown by his goal to assist ratio.  As he is about to turn 30, he is not quite finished, but is likely to see his playing time decrease over the next few seasons

Preen was the revelation of the season, stepping up when first Salisbury then Onyeka went down, originally called up to back up 23a Robb, but scored early, and regularly he is now one of the first choice strikers.  Despite his low PPA he is developing into one of those players who is limited, but does certain things well, and as long as he continues to score he will be in and around the team

Zanzala was due to lead the line this season, but is another that suffered an injury.  When fit he was good, and combined well with Preen, performing well.  At 26 he is going to be key for a few more seasons.

23a Robb was given an opportunity to play due to injuries and his high PPA but it was a little bit too soon for him, struggling to convert, but he has developed as a player and will be given more opportunities in the coming seasons

Cronin played regularly in the Championship campaign as Swine tried to find a suitable formation, but that was mainly at AMR, and dropped to the U23s as the formation reverted to two up front.  He performed well for the U23s so was called up to provide a spark later in the season, and did that with a decent conversion rate.  Not the best striker on paper, but able to create reasonable opportunities against League One defences

Onyeka was unlucky to only get three games this season, being called up after Salisbury was injured, struggling to score, then being ruled out for a reasonable length of time.  He seems to be one of those players who is always on the edge of a squad but never quite good enough, especially with some higher PPA younger players coming through

24a Downes was the highlight of the intake, and was given a chance at the end of the season.  He is unlikely to play much next season, although a few cup games might be possible.  The coaching team reckon he is as good, if not better than some of those listed above, but the team is starting to get to the side where intake players will be able to develop for a season or two in the U23s and don't need to be thrown straight into the deep end as a 16 year old.

 

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