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Youth Key To Success

Dario Gradi

Crewe Alexandra’s ‘new’ first team Manager Dario Gradi admits that safeguarding the future of the Club’s Academy is crucial to their long-term ambitions.

Gradi replaced Gudjon Thordarson last Friday and reprises the role of first team Manager for a third time at Gresty Road.

During his first tenure, which lasted 24 years, Gradi, famously transformed the fortunes of the Cheshire Club by lifting them from the bottom of the old Fourth Division to a place in the Championship.

Key to this success was the development of successful youth system which produced a number of highly talented players including, Danny Murphy, Robbie Savage, Neil Lennon, Seth Johnson, Geoff Thomas, Dean Ashton and most notably David Platt.

Now back in post, Gradi is keen to once again push youth to the forefront after admitting his concern that not enough Academy graduates were reaching the first team.

Speaking to the Club’s official website Gradi said:

“When Steve Holland was in charge of the Club, we could guarantee that progression from the Academy to the first team would happen. When Steve or I spoke to the parents, they knew 100% that they would get a chance to make the grade here. We would give them every opportunity to prove they could make that step up.”

“That is part of the agreement we have always had with the parents and the boys. In the summer, I had made personal commitments to young players that I would look after their careers and know I am back in charge of the first-team; it makes the job easier to fulfil that promise.”

“To be fair to Gudjon, he has blooded kids in the past and he has pushed the likes of Westy (Ashley Westwood) into the team.”

“It is vital that we keep that progression from the Academy to the first-team squad alive because we need that transfer revenue in the future. The budgets are going to be tighter because we are in League Two and if that means we have to rely more on our home-grown players, then I am fine with that.”

He added:

“The days of paying £600,000 for a player are gone. The days of paying £200,000 for a player are gone for now. If I found a £200,000 player, I would have to guarantee that the player is going to be worth £1 million in a couple of year’s time. We cannot afford to take gambles anymore.”

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