English League 1

Davis bemused by Gradi snub

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Wed, 12 Jun 2013 15:57:00

Livorno striker Paulinho is being targeted by a number of Italian clubs and Premier League side Sunderland, according to his agent.

The 27-year-old has attracted interest from a number of Serie A clubs after helping Livorno secure promotion back to the top flight.

And the Brazilian has also caught the eye of Black Cats boss Paulo Di Canio, who is looking to bolster his squad to avoid a repeat of the club's relegation battle last season.

"Sampdoria's offer is the most concrete, they have followed Paulinho for two-three months and we have already had some contact with them," Paulinho's agent Eugenio Ascari told tuttomercatoweb.com.

"Abroad, I think that Di Canio's Sunderland are planning to make an offer soon, and then every day I always read new teams are interested in the press."

Weir, 43, who signed a three-year contract on Monday to replace Danny Wilson as the club's permanent boss, is keen to bring in one or two new coaches.

"That's not concluded yet so I'd rather speak about that when it happens," the former Scotland defender said.

"But I've obviously got people in mind who I think can help me and can help the club and will be of a similar mindset to me.

"They would bring complimentary things that could help make us successful. We're in the process of doing that and I hope to conclude that soon, but until it's over the line I'll leave it at that."

The former Everton and Rangers centre-half said he was excited about working with the latest crop of young talent to emerge at the club, while Chris Morgan, appointed caretaker-manager when Wilson was sacked with five games of the regular season remaining, will stay on the coaching staff.

"First and foremost I want to use the players we've got here," Weir added. "We've got good players at Sheffield United, I know how good some of them are and how good some of them can be.

"So that's my starting point. I want to work with young players, I want to get the young players here in the team if and when they're ready, but show them there is a pathway.

"And I want to add to that, to get good players in and compliment the ones already here and that's a challenge because it's difficult, there's a lot of clubs looking for the same thing."

Teenage goalkeeper George Long and central defender Harry Maguire both established themselves in the starting line-up last season, while the likes of Callum McFadzean, Joe Ironside and Jordan Chappell all made their first-team breakthrough.

The 22-year-old Wigan midfielder and his Derby sidekick, who is a year younger, found themselves thrust into battle which Spain's Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Yankee Stadium during the early hours of this morning.

It was a battle they simply could not win despite their tireless efforts to stem the flow, but Keane has insisted they should not be hard on themselves.

He said: "It's very difficult. You can't judge yourself on these games because you don't have possession of the ball.

"In terms of work-rate and showing a lot of energy, you can't fault them - you couldn't fault anybody for that.

"But in terms of keeping the ball, it's almost impossible because you are playing against a team that just keeps the ball and it is very hard to get it from them."

Spain ultimately ran out 2-0 winners, but not without a good deal of huffing and puffing and a measure of good fortune thrown in.

They could have been out of sight given the possession they had, but had to wait until the 69th-minute for substitute Roberto Soldado to volley them in front.

However, they lived dangerously thereafter with Ireland substitute James McClean forcing Iker Casillas, who had replaced Victor Valdes after 59 minutes, to make an instinctive save 10 minutes from time.

From the resulting corner, Casillas had to react smartly once again to turn Stephen Kelly's near-post header on to the crossbar, but he could do nothing to prevent defender Sean St Ledger from sliding home the rebound, only for a offside flag to come to the keeper's rescue.

The Republic's disappointment was complete when Juan Mata added a second goal two minutes from time, although Keane, who played in the 4-0 defeat by Vicente Del Bosque's men at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland last summer, was philosophical in defeat.

He said: "If they have that much possession, they are going to have chances. It's just a matter of time.

"It was a shame when they did score, but it's one of those things. The 'equaliser' - I think it was just offside, but I think we can take more positives from this game, certainly than from the one a year ago.

"It was a good experience for a lot of the younger players. The lads conducted themselves very well. They showed a lot of energy.

"We were playing against the best team in the world, so at times, it's frustrating because you can't get the ball from them.

"But in terms of attitude and the way we worked for each other, it was very, very good, so we can take a lot of positives from it."

In over three decades at Crewe Gradi, who was manager for a 24-year spell between 1983 and 2007 and had a further two years in charge from 2009 to 2011, has seen the likes of Geoff Thomas, David Platt, Robbie Savage, Neil Lennon, Danny Murphy, Dean Ashton and David Vaughan, to name but a few, pass through the youth ranks at Gresty Road.

In light on England's dismal showing at the European Championships in Israel, Davis fails to understand why the FA have overlooked Gradi and believes the 71-year-old's experience and foresight could still prove beneficial.

"I'm surprised about the England situation with them looking at developing young players as there's no-one I've come across with the experience and knowledge and foresight that he's got," Davis told Crewe's official website.

"Even now he could have an influence at the FA. There's no reason why they shouldn't involve him still and giving the players a pathway.

"At the moment they haven't got the pathway through at any of the clubs. We still produce internationals at our level so I'm sure at the top end they can do that, it's just having the right people there.

"He's invaluable to the FA and this country but I'm surprised he's never been asked. Someone with that knowledge and experience should have been considered, even on a part-time basis."

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