Baker loving the life helping to develop the club's rising stars
N EIL Baker says he hopes to remain at Crewe for the rest of his coaching career after signing a new rolling contract to take him into a 20th year with the club.
The walking Rothmans has been integral to the Alex's success since agreeing to leave Leek Town to become Dario Gradi's assistant back in 1994.
He appeared to be on his way out of Gresty Road when Gudjon Thordarson arrived as manager and appointed his own number two in Steve Davis.
But it has been under Davis, who was appointed to the hot seat himself in November last year, that Baker has come to the fore once again.
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"It's just a standard contract, but I'm in my 19th year now and I've enjoyed every minute," said the 57-year-old.
"Who knows what will happen in the future. Perhaps I will be able to see out the rest of my career here, I can't say I would be disappointed if I do.
"A couple of years ago I was still working with the team by scouting and I enjoy that, but I missed the coaching side. I love the day-to-day involvement."
Baker has seen more ups than downs during his time in South Cheshire, all underpinned by the club's ethos to develop their own stars.
The coach is still just as keen to live by that philosophy, relishing a free week to hone players on the training ground, especially after three straight wins.
He said: "The lads who've been playing regularly have had a couple of days off this week, but otherwise we've been working on improving the team.
"They are fine at the moment, working well and working hard, looking like a decent side."
Keeper Alan Martin, aged 23, is not one who has progressed through the club's academy, but he did arrive at the Alex without senior experience in the English Football League.
The former Scotland under-21 international was an unused substitute on 52 occasions last season as Steve Phillips held on to the number one shirt.
But he has been given a chance this campaign after being handed a six-month contract to prove himself in the summer ... impressing enough to earn the offer of a new deal.
Baker is confident the stopper will stay, despite attracting admiring glances from clubs who recognise his potential and availability.
He said: "I think we will have good news on that early next week.
"I think Steve (Davis) has spoken to Alan's agent and hopefully it will all be sorted out and he will sign until the end of next season."
Martin has been a consistent player in Crewe's season so far and Baker is pleased with the overall way the side have stepped up from League Two to the third tier.
Their mid-table standing, despite the loss of key man Nick Powell and Ashley Westwood, compares favourably with the form of today's opponents Shrewsbury Town.
The Shrews soared to automatic promotion last year as Crewe made their way through the play-offs, but currently find themselves second from bottom.
Baker said: "Shrewsbury lost influential players in the summer (James Collins, Ian Sharps and Lionel Ainsworth) just like we did.
"It's not easy to replace good players, particularly when you've got promoted to a higher division, but I'm sure Graham Turner will get them firing.
"Graham is an experienced manager and knows the lower leagues as well as anyone.
"We haven't won there in a while in the league, but we know after winning there in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy that we can do it if we play well.
"I thought we dealt quite well with this division early in the season, but we've had a couple of set-backs along the way and a poor performance at Brentford in particular.
"It's a tough league and looking ahead at our fixtures we have more difficult games to come in the not too distant future.
"We can't afford to take our foot off the gas."