This was another idea of mine, before each home fixture the media team interview the local journalist of the opposition, we get their view on the teams form and their three key players, this is more interesting than the standard biographies and gives an up-to-date view of the opposition.
Craig Draycott spoke to Paul Crute from the Scunthorpe Telegraph who gave his thoughts on Scunthorpe Town’s outstanding start to the season and picked out his three key players.
The Iron signed Crute’s first choice Murray Wallace from Huddersfield Town on a permanent basis in January 2016, on the centre back, he said: “He has been an absolute rock. I don’t think he has missed a game since he joined us and his partnership with David Mirfin is probably one of the best we have ever had. It is not just his defending but the way that he plays out from defence, he has an eye for a pass and that is a part of the game that a lot of League One defenders don’t have.”
The Glasgow-born defender began his youth career with Rangers and Falkirk before signing for Huddersfield in January 2012 for £300,000. Former Iron manager Mark Robins would then work with the young defender during his time at the club between February 2013 and August 2014.
The reporter’s second choice was the division’s in-form player Josh Morris, Crute opened up on their star player: “He is one you will have heard a lot about, at the time of speaking he is the top goalscorer in Europe with 12 goals in all competitions, while he has five assists as well. This season just seems to have happened for him, he worked under Graham Alexander at Fleetwood when he was on loan there which has helped, but he just seems to be scoring for fun, his all round game has been brilliant and he pushes other people in the team on and I think that they respond to it.”
The Iron completed the signing of Bradford City midfielder Josh Morris on a free transfer in June 2016. Morris is a versatile player, as well as playing on the left side and centre of midfield, he is also capable of playing at left-back. Born in Preston, the Under-20 international began his career with Blackburn Rovers and he made 20 league appearances for them before departing to Bradford City.
Crute’s final choice was the sides leader and captain, Stephen Dawson: “He has been playing more of an advanced role this season and he has so much energy. He drives the team on and I think after being injured for a lot of last season he has came back and is starting to show the fans who he really is, he is always pushing forward and always giving 100%. I don’t think there will a time during the game where you will see him stopping.”
United made midfielder Stephen Dawson their first signing of the summer of 2015, the midfielder is a former Republic of Ireland U21 international, and started his career as a youth at Leicester City. He went on to ply his trade at Mansfield Town between 2005 and 2008 before spells at Bury and Leyton Orient, earning a move to Championship side Barnsley in 2012. He turned down a new deal there in 2014 and joined Keith Hill’s Rochdale, where he played a pivotal part in their play-off push.
“Last season we were challenging for the play-offs so I don’t think what has happened this season is unexpected. It was only our poor start to the last campaign that let us down, but Graham Alexander took over in March and we had a tremendous run towards the end of the season where we won our last six games, narrowly missing out on the play-offs on goal difference.
“Everyone said that if we transferred the form and momentum from last season into this season then we had a really good chance to push for promotion. In addition to that we only lost four players during the summer and kept the rest of the team together, while adding the likes of Morris, Duane Holmes and Sam Mantom. The fact that we kept the team together and then added to it, I think a lot of people expected us to do well and it has just snowballed from there. Everyone knew that we had a good team, it was just a case of getting it to click in the right way, which obviously Alexander has done.”
Alexander was appointed as manager of Scunthorpe United on a three-and-a-half year contract in March 2016 after a spell as manager of Fleetwood. As a player Alexander made over 100 appearances for Scunthorpe and with the club top of the table, he has made a positive impact second time around.
“Alexander has made a very, very good impression,” Crute continued. “He was a player with us when he was younger so he has always had that link with the club. It is just the way that he speaks and the way he works, you can see he puts meticulous preparation into everything that he does, into every single game and he wants his players to do the same.
“He likes to constantly tinker with the formation and his team because he wants his players to work at such a high intensity that you can’t have all the players doing that amount of work for 46 games. However we’ve got such a strong squad that if someone is rested or out with injury then we have always got somebody else to come in and do the same job.”
The Iron currently sit four points clear at the top of League One and while Crute insists that no one is getting carried away, he see’s no reason why the side can’t go up.
“Obviously there are going to be challenges throughout the season, whether this is unexpected injuries or suspensions; but like I said previously, we have got such a strong squad and so many strong players in so many positions that if we do struggle with injuries or suspensions – which we inevitably will – then there are always people there to step in.
“I don’t think anybody is getting carried away, we are top of the league and everybody is enjoying it at the moment but I don’t think it is until after the New Year that you can really start to look at the table. However, if we can continue what we are doing at the moment then I think there is every chance we can go up.”
With the team performing so strongly in the league, Crute told Spireites fans what to expect when the Iron travel to the Proact.
“I think you should expect a pressing game from Scunthorpe, we are always closing down the opposition very quickly. It is going forward that we are at our most potent at the moment where we have Josh Morris, who plays on the left and Duane Holmes who plays on the right feeding Tom Hopper.
“We may stay with that 4-3-3, or we might change to a 4-4-2, depending on what Alexander wants to do because Paddy Madden, who has been injured for the first two-and-a-half months of the season, came on against MK Dons and scored two. Whatever formation he plays you will see an attacking game from us, while we will try and keep it tight at the back as well.”