Football: Milestone Marks Gradi's Success ; in June 1983, Crewe Alexandra's New Manager (Left) Took over. Tonight at Norwich City He Celebrates His 1,000th Game in Charge
Harris, Nick, The Independent (London, England)
WHEN DARIO GRADI takes his place in the Crewe dug-out for this evening's First Division match at Norwich, he will also be taking a berth alongside Sir Matt Busby in the history of English football.
Tonight's game, Gradi's 1,000th in charge of the Gresty Road side, will make him only the second manager in the post-war era, after the Manchester United legend, to have reached the landmark figure with one club. Since he took up his position in June 1983, Gradi has overseen 835 league games, 152 cup ties and 12 play-off games as the Crewe manager - and watched some 750 managerial comings and goings in the English leagues in the interim.
While Sir Matt was in charge of United for 1,138 games, in two spells, he still fell 15 short of 1,000 league games in his career. Gradi, who spent years with Wimbledon and a spell at Crystal Palace before taking over at Gresty Road, has managed 1,197 games altogether, and 1,026 in the league. Only four other men in the post- war era have overseen more than 1,000 league games - Brian Clough, Graham Taylor, Jim Smith and Alec Stock - and none of them stayed 1,000 games in total with one side.
"What Dario has done is an absolutely remarkable achievement," John Barnwell, the chief executive of the League Managers' Association, said yesterday. "I am sure we will never see it again. The way the game is today, maybe we won't even see another manager in the English leagues with 1,000 games in his career, let alone with one club.
"The game is changing into two distinct areas - academies and centres of excellence, and results, which managers tend to get locked into. What Dario has done is something that most of the others can't or haven't managed. He has combined both." The LMA will honour Gradi tomorrow with a special presentation ceremony.
Gradi, who turned 60 in July, took up his first full-time managerial post in January 1978 at Wimbledon. Four years and 177 games later, he moved across south London for an eight-month stint at Palace before moving to Leyton Orient as the youth team coach. Rumours at the time suggested a coaching job at Barcelona was in the offing but his next move was Crewe, not Catalonia. On arrival, he pledged to promote the youth system. He has been doing so, and then some, for more than 18 years since.
An extensive list of Gradi-nurtured players includes David Platt, Craig Hignett, Rob Jones, Neil Lennon, Seth Johnson, Danny Murphy and Robbie Savage, all of whose careers changed platform at Crewe and all of whom have since represented their countries.
Gradi probably came closest to leaving his post in 1996 when there was speculation about him becoming the Football Association's technical director. "Howard Wilkinson and I were interviewed on the same day and before he was appointed I was still being interviewed," he said yesterday. "I wrote to say I was withdrawing from it because it was dragging on and Crewe needed to know what my plans were." Instead of moving, he signed a new contract at Gresty Road that expires in 2006. "People ask me if I would leave for anything else and I say I don't want to be offered another job. I am happy here and I don't want to be put in a position where I have to make a decision on having to leave."
There are several factors that have contributed considerably to Gradi's longevity. The first is that he has been a Crewe board member for 14 years, intricately involved in all aspects of the club and with a deal that rewards his work with a cut from player sales. The second is the general stability of the club, which has had the same chairman, John Bowler, for 15 years, the same …
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Publication information: Article title: Football: Milestone Marks Gradi's Success ; in June 1983, Crewe Alexandra's New Manager (Left) Took over. Tonight at Norwich City He Celebrates His 1,000th Game in Charge. Contributors: Harris, Nick - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 2, 2001. Page number: 22. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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