Ahead of tomorrow’s cup tie against Crewe Alexandra, I thought I’d get in touch with Steve Johnson, the editor of the excellent Vital Crewe (formerly edited by yours truly).
Here’s what he had to say about the match:
Crewe have a young manager in Dave Artell. How has he fared since taking over?
For someone who is in his first job, I think he’s done quite well. Obviously it has been a bit of a learning curve but even from his first game in charge back in January, he’s got us playing better football than his predecessor Steve Davis – plus some of the quotes that he’s given the local media have had Alex fans in stitches.
How was your summer transfer business?
We’ve brought in 5 new faces over the summer with Michael Raynes signing from play-off semi-finalists Carlisle United (where he was captain), fellow defender Eddie Nolan from Blackpool (who we’ll use as more of a back-up player) and Chris Porter who’s arrived from Colchester. All 3 have plenty of experience of playing in a higher league and look good business going off what we’ve seen during pre-season.
The other 2 arrivals are the permanent signings of Jordan Bowery who was on loan with the Alex for the second half of last season, and midfielder Brad Walker has arrived from Hartlepool United and he’ll fill in at the back if required.
Among those who have left are Oliver Turton, Jon Guthrie and Billy Bingham who have all moved up a league to play for Blackpool, Walsall and Gillingham respectively, while Callum Cooke, who we had on loan from Middlesbrough for the second half of last season, will be a massive loss but he’s joined Turton at Blackpool and our loss is definitely their gain.
Crewe are renowned for their attractive brand of passing football. They come up against a very physical Bolton side with the likes Gary Madine. How do you think they will fare with this aspect of the game?
Well, we certainly had the perfect warm-up on Saturday with a visit from Steve Evans’ Mansfield side, who were a typical Evans side of physically and little football taking place, despite what he had to say in his post-match interview.
Which Crewe player should Bolton fans be most wary of?
Winger George Cooper is our most dangerous player. He took the corner from which the opening goal came from on Saturday and also set-up Porter’s second with a cross from his weaker right-foot in the second half. Youngsters Tom Lowery and Callum Ainley, both midfielders, are also well worth watching tomorrow night.
Which Bolton player do you think could cause the most damage to Crewe?
As mentioned Madine’s physicality could give us problems as we generally don’t do too well against physical players but, with Raynes arriving, hopefully that’ll change. Also, Adam Armstrong tore us a new one when he played for Coventry about 18 months ago so I’m not looking forward to watching him play if he plays.
What is your prediction for the game?
I’m useless at predictions, so just hope that a repeat of last season’s League Cup where we beat Sheffield United away in the first round and took Blackburn to extra time at their place in the second. Apart from that, I just want the encouraging football to continue with the new players bedding in ahead of a potential play-off push come the end of the season.
Many thanks to Steve for his answers here.