Gradi return at Crewe while Poyet may return to Swindon

Dario Gradi has resumed control of Crewe Alexandra as caretaker manager.

The legendary Gradi is back, albeit on a temporary basis after the club opted to relieve Steve Holland of his position as first-team coach yesterday afternoon.

Chairman John Bowler has apparently held talks with Holland over potentially staying on in an alternative capacity.

Having taken Crewe to new heights in a 24-year reign, can Gradi help stop the rot?

Crewe striker and fans favourite Tom Pope has said the Alex players must take responsibility for the departure of first-team coach Steve Holland.

Pope told BBC Radio Stoke: "I think Steve did everything he could to get us out of the position we're in. The way we've been playing, the players haven't helped Steve's position one bit."

Crewe currently lie bottom of League One having picked up just nine points from their first 16 games. However despite their perilous position, Pope said he was surprised to learn of Holland's fate.

"I spoke to Steve last week about my new contract and he did admit he wasn't sure how long he would be in the job," said Pope. "But for him to go now when we are preparing for Stockport on Saturday is a big shock."

Former Crewe midfielder Craig Hignett has also expressed his surprise at Holland being relieved of his duties: "I was at Crewe with Steve and know that he's a very good coach who works hard. It's the first time in 25 years that Crewe have sacked a manager so I am quite shocked."

Hignett, 38, came through the ranks of the Crewe youth team set-up and made over 150 appearances for the club before leaving to join Middlesbrough in 1992. Hignett worked under Gradi during his time with the South Cheshire club and said he is the ideal man to take control of first-team affairs in the short-term: "The players will all know Dario and he will know them inside-out."

Meanwhile, up the M4, caretaker manager Dave Byrne wants the Swindon job full time but might be pre-empted by the return of former assistant boss, and recently Spurs No.2, Gus Poyet.

This is the opinion of former Swindon star Christian Roberts who was part of the squad when Poyet spent four months in Wiltshire in 2006 as Dennis Wise's assistant before the duo moved to League One rivals Leeds United.

With Town's history of making bold gambles on high-profile former players the Swindon Advertiser newspaper understands Poyet could be interested in following in the footsteps of Lou Macari, Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle by cutting his teeth in management at the County Ground.

Roberts, who is a close friend of the Uruguayan, told the Swindon Advertiser he believes the 41-year-old is the perfect man to replace Maurice Malpas.

"I can't say if Gus would be interested because, as much as we're good friends, we haven't discussed anything like that," admitted Roberts. "But what I will say is though that he is an absolute gent in the football industry and I haven't got enough praise for him. Gus hasn't got a bad bone in his body and taking on a job like Swindon would be a great challenge for him. If he's going to put his name in the frame or if the board are going to approach him then I think that would be a fantastic move. He's a top class coach and it would be a great opportunity for him. If he's ready for a challenge, Swindon would be a perfect challenge for him. He's obviously spent a few years as an assistant to Dennis and at Tottenham, and if he wants to go it alone then I've no doubts he would be a great appointment."

Since departing White Hart Lane last month, Poyet has spoken of his desire to become the manager of an English team in his own right. And earlier this week, chairman Andrew Fitton told the local paper he would be willing to consider someone of Poyet's ilk.

"What's the chance that something comes completely out of left-field?" Fitton admitted. "There's a couple of ex-players who are interested in following what the likes of (Roberto) Di Matteo and (Gianfranco) Zola have done."

Earlier this week it seemed ex-Carlisle boss John Ward was on his way to the county ground but the availabilty of Poyet must be tempting to the struggling club. Many feel he was the brains behind any Wise managerial success anyway.