Crewe Alexandra: Steve Davis ups the ante to keep Railwaymen climbing
STEVE Davis is ready to play the possession game as he tries to crank Crewe's performance level up another gear.
The Alex have climbed from the lower regions of League One into play-off contention over the past couple of months, but Davis wants more.
The manager reckons his players picked up results over the Christmas period without really producing their best, and that is what he hopes to coax out of them now.
He is looking for his team to keep the ball and dictate play to ensure they collect the points that will keep them battling for places higher up the table.
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"We can play a lot better. I don't think we have played great over Christmas, we have played ok, but not as well as I would like us to," he said.
"So that's what I'm looking for. Better performances in the way we pass the ball, keep the ball and control games. That's what we need to get us going again."
Davis, main picture, is planning for at least a fortnight without Lauri Dalla Valle, who has returned to Fulham after a successful two-month loan.
The 21-year-old hopes to sort out his own future with the Premier League club over the next few days, and Davis has left the door ajar to bring him back to Gresty Road. In the mean time, Davis has held a meeting with his strikers about supplying the goal threat Dalla Valle has provided over the past few weeks.
He said: "We can go back for Lauri, but let's have two or three weeks with Ajay (Leitch-Smith) and Max (Clayton) to give us something different.
"Ajay has missed a lot of football, but we know what he can provide and Max is the same. We are looking at them to fight for places in the front four. They've been waiting for a while.
"If they struggle and we don't get the goals we can always go back to Lauri before the end of January. I have already spoken to our strikers and said they should come in and show they are good enough for this division, thrown down the gauntlet if you like.
"They will need to work as Lauri has while he has been here and get the goals he did too."
Davis had praise for Dalla Valle, who scored five goals in his 12 outings for the Railwaymen since arriving in early November.
He said: "Lauri has been great to have about. He's a real team player with a great work ethic.
"A few of our lads might have a bit more ability, but he's got a big heart. He never stops wanting to do extra work, taking a bag of balls out in the afternoon to do more practice.
"He's got a few meetings with Fulham this week and isn't quite sure what the future holds, so I hope it works out for him."
Davis, meanwhile, insists his phone has remained quiet as the transfer window heads into a second week.
The manager hopes it stays that way as he tries to hold on to key men like captain Luke Murphy.
"It's still quiet, nothing is happening at the moment," Davis said.
"I've got a good group here, great to work with and everyone gets along, so I'm not looking strengthen at this present time.
"I hope to keep our best players for as long as possible so the club has the best chance to progress."