Gradi fears a third thrashing

Dario Gradi will lose more than a little sleep tonight worrying about how to keep Manchester United's boy wonder Wayne Rooney at bay.

United, equipped with £27m teenager Rooney, travel to Gresty Road on Tuesday night for a Carling Cup clash.

After seeing his side smashed by Coca-Cola Championship pacesetters Reading and Wigan, Alex boss Gradi must fear a mauling from United, one of the world's best teams.

Although the Royals overpowered Crewe this afternoon with an impressive display, Gradi, the countries longest-serving manager, tried to deflect attention away from today's result.

Although it was youthful centre-back Steve Foster that slipped to allow Dave Kitson in to make it 2-0, Gradi is looking ahead, and reckons that his team's younger players can lead the Railwaymen to success this season.

"I played a 16-year-old and 17-year-old in the reserves this week to see if they were likely to make the grade. Now I think both of them will make the first team next season," said the Crewe manager.

"I also have a centre-forward who I think will make it. Of course we will sell them eventually because they will want to go. But that's why youngsters want to come to Crewe, to play in our first team."

After seeing his side concede eight goals in two games, many managers may be tempted to change the team around and play the aforementioned promising youngsters.

Yet Gradi today admitted that he will stick with the same team for Tuesday's visit from Manchester United.

"To be honest that's just a bonus game. I will not change the team, but keep faith with the players who got us there. They deserve it and I will tell them to just enjoy themselves.

"I know we have lost two in a week, but if you are going to lose two games then they might as well be away to the top two teams in the league."

Alex's latest batch of young players will have to wait for their chance it seems.