Crewe boss Steve Davis says he tried to sign Tranmere’s on loan striker Jake Cassidy
THE tradition of local rivalry between Crewe Alexandra and Tranmere will embrace an element of mutual respect when the two teams meet at Gresty Road this afternoon.
Crewe, back in League One after three seasons in the bottom division, have re-established their reputation as the little club that knows how to make big money from selling home produced players to the Premier League giants.
If you ask Rovers boss Ronnie Moore, they have also added a little steel to the attractive passing game that has been their trademark for more than 30 years.
Tranmere meanwhile, have been winning admirers as well as points with the attacking football that’s taken them to the top of the table after four games of the new campaign.
Crewe manager Steve Davis admits he even tried to sign one of Tranmere’s star performers – Jake Cassidy – only for Moore to get ahead of him by recruiting the 19-year-old striker on a loan spell from Wolverhampton Wanderers towards the end of last season and again at the beginning of this one.
Davis said: “Tranmere are flying at the moment and Ronnie Moore has got them playing in a different way.
“He has added some good players to his squad and he is a very experienced manager at this level. They are scoring goals in the league and not letting many in, so their confidence will be very high.”
Davis added: “I tried to sign Jake Cassidy last season but he went to Tranmere. He did very well and has continued that this season.
“He is a goalscorer, a strong and powerful lad who is hungry to score.”
Davis stepped up from an assistant role to take charge at Crewe last November when the long serving Dario Gradi moved upstairs to become director of football.
Strong form over the second half of last season took Crewe into the play-offs and they clinched promotion by beating Cheltenham in the final at Wembley.
Moore says: “Crewe are renowned for playing good, attacking football and they will be one of the best footballing teams at this level.
“I think Steve Davis has done a fantastic job. I don’t see any reason why a footballing team can’t get promotion out of this division.
“Some people say that if you play passing football you are soft-centred but I don’t see that in this Crewe side.
“In the past Crewe were known to be a bit soft-centred but they have a very good squad of players there at the moment and I don’t think they will be a million miles away from challenging.
“We have to make sure we’re at our best in closing them down, so we don’t allow them too much space. When we have the ball we are not bad at passing it ourselves.”
Crewe banked enough money to sustain their youth development setup for another few years by selling Mick Powell to Manchester United for £6million and Ashley Westwood to Aston Villa for £2m.
Another young Crewe prospect, 19-year-old Max Clayton, is already creating a buzz about being the next target for the top clubs. He scored the winner in Crewe’s home win over Coventry City last week.
Moore said: “Crewe’s ability to bring young kids through their system is fantastic, their record is unbelievable. They keep on producing players who do well for the club, then make money for the club when they are sold. And they still get promoted.”
Tranmere’s impressive start to the season has prompted the bookmakers to shorten the odds against them clinching promotion. It is also generating extra media attention for the club.
Moore, who has more than 25 years of experience in management and coaching behind him, isn’t allowing anyone at Prenton Park to get over excited but also recognises the importance of enjoying the moment.
“I have a reality check,” Moore said. “You don’t get carried away, thinking you are going to win the league because we all know what a difficult game football can be.
“If we lose on Saturday and other results go against us, we could drop out of the top six altogether. That’s how tight the league is at this stage.
“I know how good the squad is and we are good enough to be competitive. Keeping our small squad of players fit and clear of suspension is going to be so important to us.
“You enjoy the good times because the bad times can be just around the corner in football. We have all seen it and experienced it. It’s nice to be on TV and have people paying some attention to us. It is great for me because it shows we are doing things in the right way. It is great for the players as it shows they are doing things in the right way.
“The reality is: let’s enjoy this moment but not get carried away.”
Moore is likely to revert to the line-up that stormed to a 4-0 win over Colchester last weekend after making five changes for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to Port Vale in midweek.
Ash Taylor, sidelined for the last two games with a thigh injury, is likely to be missing again, leaving on-loan centre backs Roman Golobart and Ben Gibson to continue their partnership at the heart of the defence.