Dexther Bolle's life at Crewe Alexandra (Sophitia's hotter, though).

Death Ball

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They did it!
- By Ezequiel Valls

The end of the league was as expected: Huddersgield got the second place, with Crewebehind, failing to take the Huddersfield's expected defeat against Leeds with a 0-2 against Stockport. That was followed by three wins in a row, to reach last fixture one point behind but virtually 0% chances, as Crewe had to beat favorites Leeds and Huddersfield had to lose - goal average was in their favor in case of tie - against the 21st.

The opposite happened, Leeds went 2-0 over Crewe and Huddersfield won their match 2-0.

And Scunthorpe, who was by far the least favourite showed it only barely qualifying for play offs in sixth position. The other two play offs were Leicester (4th) and Peterborough (5th).

Semifinals went tough for Leicester and Peterborough, as they had to be decided by penalties after both won at home 2-0. Crewe had an easy go, beating Scunthorpe 1-0 away and 2-0 at home.

The final was at Wembley, it was a very close match, with Crewe getting ahead with a goal by Yatabaré to long pass from Wilkinson. Later Hutch equalised with a close range header and nobody could get another goal, though Crewe was the team with more and better chances.

The match finally ended in penalty shootout, won by Crewe 4-2, earning the promotion to Championship! Total surprise as initial goals by board was just to stay in League One and manager had aimed for a mere mid table finish.

((Now, this is some win I'm not too happy. You see, I had played a game in which things went the exact opposite, Peterborough getting ahead and then Crewe drawing, and a 4-2 penalty win for Peterborough... but then the game hang, not getting out to the next screen, so I had to close it XD In a small note to be a little less annoying, the first game had reset, maybe because I loaded a new tactic at mid match or perhaps from start for going to change tactics after OI screens, removing every single instruction, except the goalie's (?!?) so maybe I didn't get a second goal because of that and even perhaps received the one because of that too. But still it doesn't leave a good aftertaste. I'm keeping the save before the match, perhaps I'll call 1-1 and repeat as tie break?))
 

Death Ball

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We found the letters by Crewe's revelation manager, Dexther Bolle. Failed sabotage?
- The Radiant Sphere redaction

To prove we're not a sensationalist newspaper, we're not leaving the suprise to the end. We next move to copy the text as written by Bolle:

«Meh, it was a good chance lost. Mainly the defeat against Stockport. That game should have been won, despite their forwards superior speed. And Leeds was within our power to have won. Not a big deal. Specially when we managed to gain promotion in the play offs.

»Howver, to tell the truth, I'm not that happy to have achieved promotion. I don't feel the team was prepared for that. Certainly, we had a splendid season, but the team as it is can't keep up in Championship. We have a defense that is too slow and we can't afford to put it up to Championship standards in summer market, our midfield has been superb but is no more than average for Championship, it could be enough if the rest of the team was up to it, but alone can't hold the team. The forward has plenty of men, but most unworthy of Championship, heck, only Zola and Rosado were worthy of League One, not counting loaned Carroll. I feel the most likely outcome of going up this season will be coming back the next and then it's up to hope we'll not lose too many of our best players or we may not rebound back to Championship, in which case we'd end worse than staying in League One another season.

»Staying here we could have done some improvements to the squad. We would not be able to sign some good players we'd get in Championship, but we could have a team to dominate League One like Leeds has done this season and a team than on its own could stay up in Championship, in which case we could make it able to fight for a mid table position there with the summer changes. We'd go Championship next year and be sure the next after that we'd be still there and perhaps with chances to go to Premier. Going up now makes it too likely to be back here next season and without any guarantee we'd be in Championship the next after that. Guess I'll have to use all tranfer budget I can for the best improvement possible.»

And in another:

«Phew! The summer transfers went well enough. Could have been better, very close to be worse. All in all I'm satisfied enough. Contrary to my fears at the end of past season, I'm fairly optimistic now. We managed to get Miles Addison in and finally managed to secure Aron Gunnarsson (even if he's injured for a couple weeks more) with what was left of transfer budget. They should bring great solidity to our midfield, making it go one step further to be a midfield worth of a top half Championship team!. It's a pity, though, two of the three full backs we tried to hire from free transfers went for other teams, so right now our left side of the defense is specially weak, as I don't see Woodards or Billy Jones good enough for this level. We'll have to stick with them or perhaps try a gamble in free transfer. Most likely the first, since our wage budget is already exhausted, good afterall the board was limiting to 6,000€ wages for players.

»Though luckily this time we got in time to get some good players for free. We got Oster as recommended by Baker, who is a good enough choice for the right wing or even sit behind our forwards. We got back Francisco Durán, he's not that good of a player, but serves enough to cover for injuries and fans love him.

»I'm particularly happy having secured Andy Carroll as our own player, perhaps a bit expensive, all buys have been expensive, but as the other two I consider it well spent. Carroll was our best striker back in League One and he can do well in Championship, he gives us a decent speed and a great aerial threat. That with Cresswell who gives us speed, we're getting a great forward.

»Also, though this through loan, we got San José back, with the decent speed and his good aerial abilities. But I'm still not happy. The defense is still to slow for my taste, only Iriekpen offers the minimum level of speed I want, and it doesn't look like we'll get any more players. At least Curro Torres accepted our offer and the right side of the defense is well covered. That makes the signings of Addison and Gunnarsson all the more important, as they can help the defense.

»Perhaps the part I'm less happy about is the sellings. Most of them are players I didn't plan on playing, but the squad looks a bit too small now, we'll have to be very carefull with injuries, I may have to lower the training schedules. Though the two sells I'm less happy about are Elding and Yatabaré. Elding because we needed to make room in the wages for a new goalkeeper, as Tomlinson has been sold and Legzinds gone on loan so we need a substitute for Ward, even if we have a great goalkeeper in our U18 team, Rhys Davies, better already than Tomlinson was, so he had to be given for free. Let's hope Stuart Taylor accepts our offer and we can have a goalie that cna play sweeper keeper, not that I'll use it, but may test in in a cup match. Yatabaré, because the money from his transfer was needed to be able to get Gunnarsson. Granted Sambou was average for this division, but he's young and was going to improve and even so he could given good things to the team. We also had to sell Zola, though that doesn't hurt as much as I didn't have much expectations about him getting many goals in this new division, still would have been good to keep him, but again that sell was needed. Selling Rosado would have been better? Maybe, but there was not explicit interest in him and I expect him to contribute more than Zola would have. His contract ends this year but I think I'll soon offer him one new, mainly because at his age he'll settle with a reduction of wages, which would help the team.

»Things so far look very promising. Despite losing player numbers, our team's quality has made a big leap and I can see us taking a mid table finish. The preseason has been wonderful, with the 4-2-3-1 tactic working very nicely to have a victory over Aberdeen and deserving one against West Brom, while the 4-3-3 generated more chances against Liverpool than they had, even if they ended winning by 4-1, and the 4-2-3-1 in the end also showed to work nicely, getting us the goal.

»The first season's match has been both a "dang!" and a "yay!", though in the end it's more of a promising yay. Dang!, because we lost a victory we had in our reach, after having two clear chances to go ahead 3-1; yay, because the 4-2-3-1 worked very well again, and because we had victory over Southampton that close, the fact that they're one of the best tipped for promotion means our team is up to play in this division much better than I expected in may. And once Gunnarsson recovers from his injury, our central midfield will be very strong and that will reflect in a better defense, with Craig sharing the left wing with Wilkinson. One of the best points of the 4-2-3-1 tactic is its flexibility: in one hand we have many players that can play in several positions, which in itself is a great assurance against injuries, and because with no more than one sub, we can go from that 4-2-3-1 to the obvious 4-4-1-1, but also to a 4-3-3 attacking, a 4-4-2, a 4-1-4-1, a 4-1-2-1-2 or a 4-3-3 defensive, we have a lot of variations to turn matches around, we'll have much more reaction capacity than past season, which is a great boost for our expectations.»
 

Death Ball

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Finally Taylor rejected the offer, so Pollit was hired. I'm in the way to get Kieran Gibbs on loan.

The league hasn't started too good but the team's play is good, so there's hope.

Currently it's seventeenth with one point, and as the first match it's a dang! accompanied by a yay.

The second league match was against Leeds, which I hoped to win, even if Sky Bet considered them favorites. With the 4-2-3-1 they scored first with a striker running 26 with my defenders looking at the ball like idiots, then Carroll robbed the goalie for the equaliser. In the second half they got two more goals, one just when I was changing to the 4-3-3 (I've found they score a lot while I'm changing tactics!. I'd almost call it foul were it not because in FM05 they did just as I thought on making changes) and as soon the tactic was changed, with the addition of Gunnarsson, he scored the first goal for the comeback that would be completed a few minutes later to end 3-3.

Then next game was away against Swansea, I made the 4-2-3-1 a bit more defensive, played Pollit as sweeper keeper though I didn't notice much difference to be honest. Again a striker ran 30 yards with my defenders just looking to get the first goal. Second came later in the first half. Soon in second half I changed to the 4-3-3... and **** it, how infuriating yay dang!: two very good chances stopped by the goalie and three shots to the crossbar :x. At least the team is showing it's very able to fight from behind.

And as I write this Gibbs has accepted the deal, so I will have the cover for the left side I needed.

---------- Post added at 01:11 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:38 AM ----------

Update: After next match, Carling Cup against Reading, it has showed that it's as I had said initially except for a small bit: the big problem of this team is the defense, the rest works well. I won 3-2 with a penalty by Craig. the small bit that seems will not be right, at least with the one match I played the pair, is that the Eddison-Gunnarson isn't help enough for the defense, but perhaps that may change if I turn the 4-2-3-1 with MCs to using DMCs.

The team makes high scores and if not many close chances, but they concede many as well, if I could improve the defense and get two quality DCs loaned, at least one to go along Iriekpen or San José, this team could set as roof for its aspirations qualifying for promotion play offs and sure to be top half finish, but with such defense we'll have a hard time in the league. and with luck will get just to mid table finish.
 
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Death Ball

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The next game was lost after being 1-0 above, by 1-2, getting down to 24th, and next one is my first league win against Barnsley: a comfortable and convincing 3-0 with two goals by Cresswell and one by Carroll to put the team up into 20th place.

Anyway, just updating a screenshot I forgot to include above. It's the progression in the table for the past season in League One.
 

Death Ball

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Being slow as I started a game of kotor 2 that caught me, then replayed kotor 1. A few matches played and the team performance has improved, the next five league matches yielded two drawns and three wins to set the team up to eleventh position, though still very close to relegation places (3 points from 21st, 4 from 6th).

Was eliminated from Carling Cup by Wolves, 0-3, which didn't affect the morale too bad, as the next match was the third league win in a row and the next a drawn on a match Crewe dominated.
 

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And in fact, Dexther Bolle has been given the Championship Manager of the month award!

That said, some injuries have started to hit, next match Oster, Craig ad Gunnarson won't be available, will be the second Gunnarsson misses but I hope they'll be for the next. Gunnarsson's absence was likely why the team lacked the luck to get a goal against Huddersfield.

P.S. Around half season I'll update with more news in the style of the previous.
 

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Mid-season report 2009-2010. Championship, Crewe Alexandra
- By Ezequiel Valls

[...]

Now we move on to one of the promoted teams of this season, the lasting surprise Crewe. A team handled to a unknown manager of no previous experience, a project that everybody had sentenced to failure at the hands of a rch boy's whims. But a project that gave splendorous results that surely surprised Mr Bolle himself, as the team reached promotion through play offs ending third in the league table.

Now they started a season that had no much hopes for anybody. In words of Bolle "the team needed one more season in League One to be prepared for the jump, not I'm afraid there will not be time to make the team fit to the new category, we'll be fortunate to stay. If we get the few quality players we're after we may just hope to stay comfortably, but in the bottom half, very lucky would we be to reach half".

After those statements the team went through a thinning of their ranks, which didn't seem a good idea to most, as it would leave the team vulnerable to injury problems, though in exchange Crewe was able to hire young talent for their midfield with looks to help the defense, and so the two most important signings came to the team: Miles Addison and Aron Gunnarsson, two youngsters who have proven their worth time and again, getting some troubles off the defense and scoring a few goals by the boots of the icelander.

They weren't the only two signings of the team, there were other of importance:

- Richard Cresswel, signing who ignited the fans' imagination, a fast quality striker that leads the team scoresheet with seven goals. A measly amount for twenty three matches, but not so much when we consider he's shared starting lune ups with Andy Carroll.

- Andy Carroll, who gives aerial threat to the team. It has been argued that with two such as Creswell and Carroll Bolle has opted for tactic systems with one striker, most usually the 4-2-3-1 and the recently introduced 4-3-3 standard. It seems a 4-4-2, or even a 4-2-2-2, would be a better choice to make the team more dangerous in attack.

- Ward and Mike Pollit: the new pair of goalies, of which Ward is the preferred choice, two goalies of good characteristics to play in Championship, they both have their number of stops when public was starting to celebrate the goal.

- In defence, there were two late arrival after the few couple matches were played, no doubt key for the team's performance as they covered what was the weakest positions: the sides of the defence. Fullbacks Curro Torres and Kieran Gibbs, two players who know who defend and can work in supporting the offensive.

- Other minor signings were Francisco Durán, a signing asked for the fans but who hasn't been used much, just when injuries plagued the team, Antoine Sibierski from free transfer and a brief loan of Vito Mannone when both goalkeepers were injured.

With them Crewe has again become the surprise of the season, though sharing the title with Leeds. They recovered from a poor start of season along the expectations of the critics, though they proved a match for promotion candidates Southampton. Theyr 4-2-3-1 formation did indeed work, including in some matches the inclusion of Cresswell as AMC with good results, though the position has been occupied more by Álvaro Novo, given task of playmaker, and Oster taking the right wing when the AMC wasn't taken by Cresswell, making AMC, ST and AMR the positions that are varied between matches among Novo/Cresswell Carroll/Cresswell and Novo/Oster, being the rest always the same as long there's no injury: Ward; Gibbs, Iriekpen, San José, Torres; Addison, Gunnarson; Craig, Cresswell, Novo; Carroll.

After the team climb from 24th to 7th tied with 6th in points, the test of how it can cope with injuries came. For a month they lost to injuries several relevant players: the two goalies Ward and Pollit, plus Rhys, which forced them to look in the loan market and getting Vito Mannone, also injured were Gibbs, Gunnarsson, Novo, Oster, Cresswel and Carrol, which made them hire Sibierski. It was the moment when the fall of the team was expected, however, they performed theyr better run of the league, with a number of high scoring games, starting by Derby 3-1 and including defeating former Premiership team Hull by a comfortable 4-2, though they finally fell to Coventry before the recovery of the injured players.

Then the last stint of the first leg came, five games that comprised a new match against overpeforming Leeds and the big favourites and n strong form Wigan and Newcastle. Everyone expected Crewe to suffer heavy defeats at the hands of the two former Premier teams and also to Leeds, while beating Cardiff and Watfrod, two teams in the bottom of the table.

And the test came with a mixed taste. Introducing the 4-3-3 standard formation to the team, Bolle achieved a 2-2 drawn with Newcastle, not lacking chances to have won and also dominated their match against Wigan even though it ended with a 1-1 in which Crewe had to come from behind. Two great results to make the team a surprise candidate to reach play offs, of which it was at one victory's distance... but then they had the bad luck of losing to Watford even when they also dominated the match as well as losing to Cardiff, match they didn't dominate, and then losing against Leeds in another match of Crewe dominance.

Now Crewe sits in a position of the best hopes for Bolle's, being tenth with 32 points, but now eight behind promotion play offs after five matches without a win.

to the eyes of this journalist, it's likely to see Crewe making a better second leg, which will ensure them a superb position above everybody's expectations and, why not?, the possibility to dream with the pay offs, as they've showed they have what it takes to beat anyone in this league. Except perhaps Wolverhampton Wanderers.
 

Death Ball

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Farewell
- By Ezequiel Valls

It's time to announce, this journalist has entered the world of management and is taking his suitcases to fly to Japan, where the Urawa Red Diamonds have offered him to manage their team. And I have accepted, so I'm leaving the coverage of the english leagues.

The newspaper has offered me the chance to write a monthly article as a coach's diary for those readers who might find it fun read.

((With FM2010 I'm not likely to keep playing this game, I may end this season, but since it doesn't look like the team will be promoted there's no will to play a new season))
 

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The first rift between the manager and the team direction has opened, after the president decided to accept a €2M offer for Andy Carroll, who Bolle considered a vital part of the project without even consulting with him... after doing the same with Miles Addison and €2.2M offer, also from Stoke, the second of the four pillars of the team (Addison-Gunnarson on the midfield, Iriekpen in defense and Carrol in the attack).

That has been added to the absence of Mikel San José, after Liverpool refused to renew the loan.

Holes have been patched with the signings of O'Halloran and Proctor in defense (filling San José's absence and giving cover to the left fullback position), Will Hoskins (to fill Carroll's absence) and Alan Tate (to replace Addison).

The year started with the end of the bad results spell, for a 4W 2D 2L run in the league, with a last minute goal by a 10 men Huddersfield (22nd) in the last minute to result a disappointing 1-1 drawn
to place the team in ninth position at 7 points from promotion play offs.

Pundits believe the argument is the reason why Bolle accepted the surprising offer to manage the Ivory Coast squad, where he will manage the likes of Drogba, the Tourés... but lacks any good goalkeeper.

---------- Post added at 01:14 PM ---------- Previous post was yesterday at 09:12 PM ----------

The Crewe team continues being the miracle team at the hands of Bolle. After a moreaverage than good run, after one defeat and one drawn game, they still were 7 points from promotion play offs, and at the fortieth game they were to play against QPR, the team sitting at sixth position, the one they were seven points behind... and Crewe mopped the pitch with them for a final result of 3-1, with a last consolation goal for their rivals in the 72nd minute of match, just while Bolle was instructing his men to start the changes against a last push.

In the international side, he had his first Ivory Coast match, a friendly against Saudi Arabia. The game was brilliant, with plenty of opportunities for the african team; but as expected by Bolle and the english FA personnel who expressed their opinion, the goalkeeper failed and the three shots in target made by the arabians ended in goal to waste the ivorians' efforts for a 2-3. And the fourth shot by arabians wasn't goal because the ball was off target. The ivorian goalkeeper never moved from his spot.

---------- Post added at 06:45 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:14 PM ----------

The second season has come to a close with a disappointing taste. After the QPR game that placed the team only 4 points from promotion relegation, came the last matches that included rivals such as Newcastle, Sheff Utd and Wigan and the results dropped like a stone, for a spell of last six games returning three draws, three losses and no wins for a final 12th position 18pts below promotion.

Worse end for the second leg than the first in results, but not so bad in performance. Though it is true that some players like Ward and Cresswell took a dive in their performances, with Novo joining in the last two games. Specially bad was Ward getting rates below 6.2 as opposed as his usual 6-8-7.5 ratings. Placing Pollit didn't improve things. The defensive side of the team being the part that in this end of season has taken the worse turn. However, it is less bad than the first leg, because now, despite what has been said, the team could have won every one of them, while at the end of the first leg the defeats (just two, with two draws and two wins) came without the team showing chances of winning.while this time Crewe was much closer, the problem being an unholy amount of hits to the woodwork, had half the chances been converted, at least five of the six last games would have been victories and Crewe would have qualified for the play offs.

Then the shock news arived: Bolle resigned from Crewe, stating his job had been done and all there was to do was just pick the right new players for the squad, then next year Crewe will be a Premier team; but he doesn't relish the prospect of a calm season like that.

((I'll play the world championship with Ivory Coast and then uninstall FM09 to play FM10))
 
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Death Ball

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OOOoooooowwwwwwwww!! So close!

The WC pitted Ivory Coast in the D group alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Spain.

The first was the Switzerland match, a 1-1 drawn.
Costa Rica lost to Spain

Next Costa Rica, 3-1 win after early 0-1.
Switzerland lost 1-0 to Spain.

And then Spain, a vibrant match in which Ivory Coast got the first goal, and the goalkeeper managed some miracle saves. though Spain got 2-1 at half time. In their side, Costa Rica was winning 2-0, meaning that at that time Ivory Coast was through. At min 56 Spain got one more goal and IC was out. Then 63 Ic got one back and IC was in. At 65 Spain scored and IC was out. IC needed one more goal to get through by goal difference... and they did at minute 83!!!... but wait... the goal update then shows Switzerland had scored their third goal at min 79... and IC was out.

A goalkeeper. A decent goalkeeper with some reflexes, some positioning would have stopped Switzerland's, Costa Rica's goal and one of Spain... I would have been through tied with Spain... or at least second...

Oh well.

This is the end of this game. Now I'm off to FM10
 
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