I always look forward to Jon sending me the latest edition of Trash Talk which he has hunted down from an opposition supporter. I find it interesting to get an insight as to what’s going on at our forthcoming opponents’ clubs, and none more so than this, the latest edition from Railwayman’s fan Stuart Price who runs the Railwaymen Podcast. He has applied real gallows humour in his answers to his questions, and you can really feel the bewilderment.
Fair play to Stuart for trying to keep smiling, and we have been there before, so we know all you can do is laugh at yourself to maintain a level of sanity.
Many thanks to Stuart and all the best to his beloved Crewe for the remainder of the season.
1 – We are about a quarter of the way through the season, so how is it looking for your team so far?
It’s not looking good, to be honest. The team has really struggled this season, the vast majority of Crewe fans were expecting this season to have been tougher than last season, however, I think most of us are surprised just how much tougher it has been. There are extenuating circumstances to a lot of the problems, of course, key players leaving, players going on strike, players not being played as they won’t sign a contract, two new signings retiring from football shortly after they had arrived, but, these things are not taken into consideration when looking at the overall league position.
2 – We are noticing that some clubs are struggling with attendances, are you back anywhere near to your pre-Covid attendances?
Crewe’s away attendances have been superb so far. The obvious stand out is taking 1,500 to Leeds in the League Cup on a Tuesday night. That was obviously a special night for lots of fans, who may not have had the opportunity to go to Elland Road to watch Crewe, as it has been a while. That though shouldn’t over shadow the outstanding away following the Alex have had at most league games this year too. This may be down to people needing to have football back in their lives, it may be the excitement of finally being allowed to go to League One stadiums after missing out last year. What is clear though, is the Railwaymen’s away following has so far been excellent and I hope it continues as the season goes on.
3- We note that many clubs are going across to digital tickets and cashless stadiums and this has caused major problems for fans, is this something that has affected you as a fan, home or away?
It’s a guess, but I would say this is not something that has really affected most of the Alex fan base, no. Personally, whilst I understand why this may upset people with the importance of holding on to a ticket as a memory or keepsake, my used tickets usually end up in the bin not long after full time.
4 – Every club has played about half the teams in League 1, who do you think is the best and the worst team you have played so far?
I’m not entirely sure that watching Crewe is the best guide to this season, we seem to have made a lot of teams look very good. I suppose you can’t really look past Sunderland who recently came to South Cheshire and strolled to a 4-0 victory. Other than that, I thought Portsmouth looked very assured in their 2-0 home win over us, but they have fallen off the tracks quite a bit recently.
In terms of worst, can I say Crewe? If not, probably Shrewsbury, we beat them in the Papa Johns and then drew the subsequent league game, both away from home, so let’s say them.
5 – In our forthcoming game what sort of style can we expect to see from your team?
If you know, can you let us know. It is something that we have discussed a few times recently on the pod. The solid 4-3-3 way that got us promoted seems to have become obsolete with the players we now have available. That being said, there isn’t yet a set playing style that is working for this current squad, so you’ll likely see 5-2-3/5-3-2 but that may change, or it may work. It probably won’t.
6 – Is there any current MK Dons player that you would like to see playing for your team?
Do you have defenders who can defend? Strikers who can score? Or midfielders who can create? If the answer to those questions are yes, then we’ll take all of them please. In seriousness, Scott Twine helped break a few Crewe hearts last year with his 95th minute winner when he was at Swindon, and he always looks a good player, so I’d take him.
7 – Every lower league club fear that the big boys are monitoring their players, is there anybody in your team that is attracting unwanted attention, and might be lured away in January?
No…. All the academy lads who were ready to fly the nest have done so in the last 6 months or so. The only other one who should be thinking about that is Tommy Lowery, but he is currently out of the team as he won’t sign a new deal. This is hampering Crewe, but also himself, as I can’t see anyone too much higher up the league taking him on, when he inevitably leaves in June. I suppose the biggest threat at the moment is losing the loan players we bought in.
8 – Is there anyone in your team that we should really fear as a potential game changer?
Recently we’ve looked as weak going forward as I can remember, there have been games when if Crewe have gone behind then you know that the game is basically over. This is not what we were saying a couple of years ago, when we were promoted, a couple of come from behind victories were key to having us top when Covid stopped play. There are some good players in this squad though which is what is probably the most frustrating. Mika Mandron has all of a sudden turned in to a bad forward player. J’Neil Bennett, a winger on loan from Spurs is a tricky and full of pace, when he gets going. Scott Robertson, on loan from Celtic, looks like he’ll be running a midfield in a few years, but Crewe need these players consistently performing now.
9 – Can you predict where you think your club will finish at the end of the season, and where the MK Dons will finish?
This genuinely has all the hall marks of a relegation season. As for MK, it’s possible that this could be the year that they return to the Championship, however, personally I think there will probably be three more consistent teams over the course of the season.
10 – Many thanks for taking part, all we need now is your prediction for the game?
Crewe 2 – 0 MK Dons – It must stop some time.