Crewe Alex: Familiar foes ready to do battle once again
ROLL back the clock eight years and Steve Davis and Karl Robinson could still be found going head-to-head.
Davis, then player-coach at Nantwich Town, and Robinson, a midfielder at St Helens Town, went into battle in the old North West Counties League Division One in early 2005 ... and Robinson came out on top, sinking a late header in a 3-2 win.
The pair have subsequently followed different routes to climb six divisions up the football pyramid, where they will pit their wits against each other from the sidelines tomorrow when Davis's Crewe take on Robinson's MK Dons, weather permitting.
Both seem destined to continue that rise, but have preached and shown loyalty to their present clubs this season.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Davis was interviewed for the top job at Championship side Burnley, but signed a new 18-month contract after declaring he had "unfinished business" with the Alex.
Now Robinson has turned down an approach from another second-tier side, Blackpool.
He said: "It's important nowadays there is some loyalty. It's important you do right by the people who pay your wages.
"Ultimately my lifestyle is because of the chairman giving me an opportunity and the fans allowing that to come to fruition. I've got a debt of gratitude to pay to them.
"I ask for loyalty from my players. It's important if the they are going to show it, that the manager and the staff are going to show it as well."
Crewe are keen to seek revenge for a 1-0 loss at Stadium:mk in September, but a lot could still depend on the state of the Gresty Road pitch.
The covers have now been put back on and the club will speak with referee Tim Robinson today if they think an early decision can be made.
Robinson said: "It looks doubtful, but we cannot count on that until the very end.
"We will train as though we'll play, but hopefully we'll know soon enough whether it goes ahead.
"We're used to the adverse conditions in this country."
Robinson is monitoring the fitness of top scorer Dean Bowditch, the left midfielder who limped off with a groin strain towards the end of MK Dons' 2-0 FA Cup replay win over Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.
Loanee Zeli Ismail is on standby, but Bowditch should be available, while striker Izale McLeod returns to the fold after being cup-tied on Tuesday.
Former Crewe defender Jon Otsemobor is relishing a return to Gresty Road, where he spent an up and down 15 months before leaving for Norwich City in 2007.
"It's a great club," declared the 29-year-old right-back. "I spent a lot of time there and we had a lot of decent footballers at the time too.
"The philosophy is very similar there to the way our manager likes to play football. I enjoyed my time there thoroughly and I can't wait to go back.
"You always want to do well against your former clubs, and show them what they're missing out on, so to speak.
"But it's just another game really. I won't be looking at it in any other way than making sure we get the three points first and foremost."
Meanwhile, Crewe goalkeeper Alan Martin is facing a race to prove his fitness after being withdrawn at half-time against Bradford because of a foot injury.
"He was playing through the pain barrier for 25 minutes or so," admitted boss Davis.