By Sam Elliott
THE chalice of Football League management has not so much been filled with poison this season as bubbling over with toxic chemicals.
Scunthorpe became the 13th of the 72 clubs to part with their manager last Wednesday – and that’s before you factor Watford’s fourth new boss inside six weeks into the scary equation.
With that triggy-happy list, you would think the club rock bottom of League One would be queuing up be involved, with one win in 11 before the weekend and the worst defensive record around.
But the club in question are Crewe Alexandra. They always do things a little differently. Steve Davis already knew his colleagues were dropping like flies before The FLP relayed the breaking news that Russ Wilcox had left their relegation rivals.
“Really? Russ has gone at Scunny?” said the 49-year-old. “I’m scratching my head. They went on a 30-game unbeaten run last season to get into this division. Why now is he not the right manager? I don’t get that. I don’t get what’s going on.
“There are so many knee-jerk reactions now, a lot of different owners are coming in and the game is really changing – I’m not sure it’s helping us managers in the long-term.
“Planning is something of the past sadly, the average time in the job is so short these days. It’s something like 12 months now, then for the manager that has been sacked it’s 18 months trying to find another job!
“When a fellow manager loses his job over something that’s not to do with football, that’s the disappointing thing.
“You don’t get the opportunity for long enough unless the results are there all the time. It’s a concern for the game. We’re always looking over our shoulders.”
Coming up to his three-year anniversary in the Football League, Davis must surely be due a testimonial. Crewe have never been a sacking club.
They are one that seem to know their standing in the game, not burdened by delusions of grandeur. More content with producing players of the future, Alex’s mentality is to cash in by developing their own – not by chasing Premier League pounds.
Under pressure? There’s none of that. Board backing, in fact. Shipping points as quickly as they are shipping goals, there’s still no sign that the temptation of change is in the air at Gresty Road.
“I went to a coaching clinic last week,” added Davis, who got his hands dirty in Non-League at Nantwich, where he won the FA Vase eight years ago.
“The amount of out-of-work managers there is scary. Tony Mowbray was there – it was only last year when everyone was tipping him for great things. Now he can’t get back in.
“I’m fortunate that Crewe have a different outlook. It’s always been like that here, it’s always been a learning environment – that attitude was set by Dario Gradi, of course. I just try to carry that on, the board recognise that I am doing my very best and that’s nice to know – especially with the situation as it is currently.
“We had a lot of success early on, maybe not as much lately but I was put in a position in the first place to rescue the club when we were near the bottom of League Two. Two years ago we managed to turn it around and win promotion and last year after a poor start we kept them up.
“The trend has followed this year; we’re down the bottom and expected to win a few more games than we have – it’s the ups and downs of football.
“If the board do decide enough’s enough well that’s their decision. Obviously I’m not sitting here thinking I am going to have protection forever, we need to gets some wins on the board, that’s a given.
“Crewe have always respected they aren’t the biggest club in the Football League. Yes, at times there’s frustration regardless of that, but the biggest thing is that the majority of the supporters understand that.
“It’s a different environment to most clubs but that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to achieve.”