Crewe's miserable start to the season was further exacerbated on the weekend as bottom of the league Gillingham claimed their first victory of the season in a 3-0 hammering at Gresty Road.
The Gills, who had not won or kept a clean sheet in 11 outings, eased to a comfortable victory against an abject Alex, who were booed off the park for the second consecutive home match. The drubbing marked what will be remembered as a sour commemoration for Steve Davis' 100th game in charge. Undoubtedly, Crewe have come on leaps and bounds since his appointment but fans are becoming rapidly disenchanted with their side's worrying start.
The South Cheshire club's erratic pre-season form has translated into competitive football as they sit in a dismal 18th position, simultaneously possessing the worst goal difference in the league and having won only once all season. Meanwhile they crashed out to League Two outfit Bury in the 1st Round of the Capital One Cup and squeezed unconvincingly past Accrington Stanley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy 1st Round with a 1-0 win.
The Railwaymen's defence was again suspect versus the Gills as they shipped three goals for the second consecutive home game. Their faint pre-season hopes of a play-off push have been all but disbanded due to these dramatic defensive woes which saw them give away an astounding five penalties within four league matches, of which three were converted.
They have conceded an astounding 21 goals in just nine league matches, with manager Steve Davis admittedly unsure of his best central defensive partnership. Adam Dugdale's return after a month-long loan at fellow strugglers Tranmere should help provide a welcome boost with an injection of his determination and commitment that will hopefully infect several other lacklustre players. His return will enable Crewe to add much needed quality and assurance having persisted with the unexperienced George Ray for several unsuccessful games before opting to play Mark Ellis alongside Harry Davis, which has also been largely unsuccessful.
To compound their tribulations, their forward firepower has been equally unimpressive as they have failed to score on five occasions already. A forefront representation of their problems is England U19 international Max Clayton, whose reluctance to renew his contract at the club with the aspirations of pastures greener, has earned him a perhaps denigrating cacophonous chorus of boos upon his every substitution.
The loss of captain Luke Murphy has been catastrophic, as despite the permanent addition of Brad Inman and the recapture of Chuks Aneke whose previous loan periods at Alex were both extremely successful, they seem to be devoid of creativity and invention. However the season is only nine games in and there is plenty of time for Davis to undelve the underlying issues within the squad and solve them in order to save their season. Adapting the defence is a must, as their injurious tendency to concede goals is causing them to drop vast amounts of points so early on. Davis has spoke to the Crewe Chronicle and conceded that he is not afraid to alter his line-up in order to find that "winning formula".
This has been made further detrimental by their evidently low confidence and despondence on the pitch. Their team spirit is in stark contrast to the unity which saw them win promotion in a 19 match unbeaten run just 18 months ago and the root of this cannot be defined from the outside. Only Davis and his assistant Neil Baker know the real cause of these problems and he admitted himself that he will rid of the mavericks within the dressing room, regardless of their talent.
Many supporters are struggling to pinpoint the cause of such demoralisation but it is likely that the ongoing court case in which seven Crewe players are alleged of sexually assaulting a 20 year old girl in Redruth, Cornwall may be a factor. Their inconsistent form is frustrating to many, as crushing draws against Swindon Town, Walsall and recently Gillingham were sandwiched by creditable draws to Peterborough United and Oldham Athletic.
Their early season form may not come as a surprise to some, as last season they had only picked up 10 points by their ninth game and in their League Two campaign of 2011-12 they only had 12 points by the same point, albeit that was under Dario Gradi until Davis' appointment in November. However, their performances are arguably the worst whilst under the 48 year old's leadership and this has obviously worried the club's supporters, who have inevitably began contemplating the worst.
So the obvious question remains, what can the Railwaymen do to resolve their problems?
The answer to that remains a mystery to many, is shuffling the squad and exploring all the Alex's options the right way? Or is sticking with the same routine 11 and hoping that they will find form the route to recuperation? Some have perhaps considered admonishing the players that if results do not pick up, their future at Gresty Road is uncertain.
What's vital is that no matter what, Crewe fans support their side and realise how much Davis has revamped the side, reaping the rewards with promotion to League One in 2011-12 and a Johnstone's Paint Trophy victory in 2012-13.
His achievements at the club are unquestionable and this dip in form has come as a shock since the sharp upturn in fortunes since his managerial appointment. Nevertheless, the club's supporters must stay loyal and administer their dissatisfying form. After all, If they don't get behind their players and their manager, then who will?
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