Tuesday, 8 May 2007

I Owe So Much To Dario Gradi

The latest entry from Deano's online diary. After you get through the Dario Gradi stuff there's not much left, save a few comments on the fitness struggle and some musings on the inquiry verdict.

I owe so much to Dario Gradi
By Dean Ashton

It was a little bit of a shock to hear that my old boss Dario Gradi has decided to step down as manager of Crewe. He's been there for 24 years and it's hard to imagine Gresty Road without him.

I am not as surprised by who has taken over though, as it's the academy manager Steve Holland who will take his place. It was Steve who scouted me in the first place and he got me to sign for the club when I was 16. He coached me through all the stages when I was younger and really helped me out. I think Steve is the natural successor to Dario; he is known for his fantastic coaching and youth development, so it's no surprise that he will be the next manager. It is just a surprise that it has happened now – I thought Dario might have a few more years in the role. The two of them are different in character, but in terms of how they coach and what they think is right for youth development their ideas are very similar. Steve won't come in and change a great deal – it will be more like carrying on the legacy that Dario started. I hope so anyway, because that’s the way the club is and hopefully that's the way it will always be.

My memories of playing for Dario are mainly of enjoying myself; I was given licence just to play my football and was given all the guidance and all the coaching I needed. Playing for him made me improve no-end, but at the same time Dario was always questioning every attribute of my game - making sure it was as good as could be. If it wasn’t – he was on top of me. It was actually Steve who helped me get my chance in the first team, because Dario probably wasn’t sure at the time. I owe both of them a lot as they played a massive part in getting me to where I am today. I only really appreciated what they had done for me once I had left though, that's how it is when you are young - you always think that you are right and everyone else is wrong. When I look at it now I realise signing for Crewe was the best thing I could have done. Dario hasn’t left completely; it will be a gradual transition as his role changes. I can't imagine him ever actually leaving the game, he lives and breathes it. Even if he only had a small role to play, he would do it.

On the fitness side of things my ankle is doing well; things are going steadily and I am progressing as I should be. I have been back up at Total Fitness again and they are slowly introducing running to me again – it's in water first of all, as that's not so hard on your body, but it prepares you well for proper running. I did some running on the treadmill too, which was good. I don’t have much time to relax at the moment, it is very hard work, but I am progressing nicely.

The decision was made this week not to dock points from West Ham, and obviously I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard. But it is a hefty fine; it's not just a slap on the wrist. It is for the governing bodies to decide and you have to respect the decision that they have made.

Taken from Icons.com

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