Prior to the League 1 clash between Crewe Alexandra and Peterborough United, Darren Ferguson said that Crewe's supporters turn on their players too easily - and hoped a good start from Posh would help capitalise on these reports.

No football fans like to be criticised and consequently, several Crewe supporters have taken to social networking sites to defend their reputation. Meanwhile, Crewe boss Steve Davis has, obviously, got behind the fans too. However, whatever his opinion, he's hardly going to confirm Ferguson's claims...

Sadly, though, I've found that jeers, boos and an all round display of misery can be a frequent occurrence at Gresty Road, when not all is well with Crewe's form.

Admittedly it's been a rocky start to the season for the Alex, therefore the usual abuse and moaning that you hear on terraces throughout every ground has been slightly more prevalent.

Sometimes the fans frustrations are aired as a result of a poor performance from the whole team or a suggestion of a lack of effort. Perhaps the referee isn't living up to expectations or one player in particular is having a poor game?

On this occasion, a number of Crewe fans have freely voiced their opinions on the latest 'contract rebel' that is, Max Clayton.

The promising 19-year-old England international has less than a year left on his contract but has refused to sign a new deal with Crewe. As far as I'm aware no reason why has been given, and it is not right to speculate, but it seems certain that his future lies elsewhere.

As a supporter, this is bitterly disappointing, as you always want your players to want to stay and play for your club, especially the young talent that has been nurtured by Crewe's excellent youth system.

Furthermore, what is difficult to comprehend is the fact that, even if Clayton does sign a contract, this would not prevent Crewe selling him during the course of that contract, as what makes Crewe unique is if the move is right, they would not stand in the way of the player.

It is common knowledge across British football that Crewe have a hugely successful academy set-up, much of which has been made possible by the philosophy and beliefs of former first-team manager, Dario Gradi.

The man is a legend at the club and deserves all the credit he receives and more. Successful academy products such as Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson and more recently Nick Powell have all been coached and moulded into highly-talented footballers, and it had been expected that Clayton would follow suit.

The aforementioned contract saga has meant that he is unlikely to continue improving under Crewe's high quality coaching, before leaving for a significant fee.

To return to the initial point regarding Crewe's supporters using Clayton's decision as an excuse to 'boo' the youngster, I, personally, believe this is completely unacceptable.

The club has a had a tough start to the season and it is easy for fans to be frustrated, particularly with rumours circulating that there is unrest the dressing room. Whether or not these reports have impacted Clayton's decision is another debate, but either way, it does not justify the abuse he had received during games or on Twitter.

It can be argued that fans pay their money and are entitled to air their views at the games, which I do agree with up to a point, but to target a 19-year-old striker, could be career damaging.

It will undoubtedly have an effect on his confidence and therefore his performance and perhaps more importantly, it will certainly not make him change his mind.

The way I interpret Clayton's decision is this; he is a very talented striker with a eye for goal, and although he still has lots to improve on, he is frequently a step ahead of many of his team mates in terms of gameplay.

His anticipation of the next phase of play is very good and his natural instinct as a striker is clearly a very natural and untaught attribute.

Luke Murphy is another academy product who has recently joined Leeds United and challenged himself with Championship football and even he, who was by far Crewe's best player last season, failed to spot some of Clayton's runs at times.

Despite the well-documented success of Crewe's youth set-up, sometimes other routes to the top are more beneficial for certain players.

Former Crewe defender Billy Jones was in a similar situation a few years back; he refused to sign a contract, went his own way and joined Preston North End as a very promising defender. After four successful seasons at Deepdale, he moved on to West Brom where he is now a first-team regular.

Clayton certainly has the potential to be a Premier League striker one day and may well benefit from following Jones' path by playing Championship football for a season or two, before playing at the highest level he can.

There is no doubt Clayton has already been on the radar of several Premier League clubs, so alternatively he maybe more suited to playing in an under-21 squad for a top division side and slowly break his way in to a first-team.

In conclusion, I believe it is important to remember that although Crewe's youth system is very successful and is certainly a huge part of the club that fans should be proud of, there are other ways to make it as a top professional player.

As disappointing as it will be, should Clayton leave, fans should support him in what seems like, his final season with us because it is of no benefit to anyone hurling abuse at a young footballer.

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