Crewe Alexandra: Time for the fans to take a serious reality check
AS winter sets in the glorious sunshine and jubilant scenes at Wembley last May seem a very long time ago.
The opening month of the new season was tough, but it looked as though we'd ride it out and eventually find our feet.
So hands up if Crewe Alexandra's recent slide down League One has surprised you?
It has me, but then I started the season in a far too optimistic frame of mind.
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Steve Davis hasn't helped matters, what with his determination to win games, bringing in loan players and blooding some exciting kids.
Damn him! He's done everything a supporter would want, and yet he's sucked us in and left us shocked that his magical powers are fading so soon after promotion.
I jest, but it is time for a serious reality check.
What did I and others really expect, back-to-back promotions?
The recent BBC survey about the cost of football to supporters should open a few eyes.
The Alex is an affordable option compared to most other clubs in Leagues One and Two, but that's part of the problem.
Others have more spending power, bigger pockets, benefactors with money to burn or a recklessness that sees some investing for short-term gain.
The result is that progress in League One will never be easy for the likes of Crewe Alexandra unless we hike prices further or mortgage our future.
Hopefully, neither will happen, but that means tempering our expectations.
Davis has used the loan market cleverly but injuries, suspensions and erratic form have deprived him of a consistent starting XI.
Some would say that his strikers have also let him and the fans down. That's overly harsh, as with promotion comes a more rugged, ruthless and formidable set of defences.
The likes of Max Clayton, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Mathias Pogba and Byron Moore need time to adapt, as this division is faster and less forgiving.
It's no surprise that the goals have dried up, especially when the Alex engine room has lost capacity.
Players like Ashley Westwood are only missed when they're gone. His departure to Aston Villa left a gaping hole.
I like Abdul Osman and loanee Chuks Aneke, but they were never likely to emulate the slick operation that Westwood and Luke Murphy employed so successfully last season.
That kind of understanding takes several seasons to mature.
We must also remember the contribution made by Nick Powell, left.
Not only did the precocious youth score goals for fun in his final six months, crucially he retained possession.
Couple that with Westwood's pass completion rate and it's no surprise that losing such players would heap pressure on the Alex team.
Now we're on the back foot, defending more than attacking, riding our luck and desperately looking for another winning formula.
It will come, of that I'm sure. Davis is a winner and given time he will do more than enough to keep us in League One.
For now I think that should be our focus. We'll talk about another promotion as and when we can establish ourselves at this level.