New management choice takes Crawley into the unknown - Geoff Thornton

Gabriele Cioffi on Friday
Gabriele Cioffi on Friday

Speculation was rife as fans waited for the name of Crawley Town’s new manager.

A number of household names who possessed the relevant experience were touted but more fancifully it was suggested we might even attract an Italian manager.

That got the rumour mill working overtime and they were right as the new man in charge hails from Florence. But is he a household name? Who is Gabriele Cioffi?

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It seems odd to me that the manager should have the extra burden of making himself recognisable to his own band of supporters as his task will be hard enough in itself.

The club’s negotiators are happy but then over recent seasons that has invariably been the case. Despite the different people who have been involved, since the appointment of Steve Evans their selections have, for one reason or another, not come up to scratch. I am sure like me they would all have wished for the benefit of hindsight.

At least Cioffi will inherit a good squad that is beginning to realise its potential. Tuesday evening’s EFL Trophy win against Tottenham Hotspur U23 demonstrated that in full.

The Broadfield faithful were introduced to five newcomers as caretaker boss Filipe Morais used the match as a chance to blood the new faces. None of them let him down as we witnessed the third splendid game of football in a row.

The narrow 5-3 win on penalty kicks was just about right as the Spurs youngsters looked a cut above the other Under 21 sides we have previously faced and been humiliated by. And, in a line I never thought I’d write, Yusuf Mersin was brilliant. We now have two excellent goalkeepers on our books.

Cioffi was in the stands at Sincil Bank as Reds took on league leaders Lincoln City in his first match nominally in charge whilst Morais and Jimmy Smith handled the team. He would have been delighted with the courageous way his squad went about their business.

It was tough going as evidenced by Crawley’s four yellow cards but the Imps found it equally hard and finished with ten men as skipper Lee Frecklington received a straight red card for a nasty studs up challenge on Mark Connolly.

Ironically it was an own goal by former Crawley man Michael Bostwick that secured the points and it was no surprise that top scorer Ollie Palmer achieved very little against his former club.

The irony stretched further with the news that Notts County had been thumped 5-1 at Exeter City and that Harry Kewell had been red carded. Overall it was a great day for the Reds although that was tempered by the post match revelation that Jimmy Smith was suffering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that will keep him on the sidelines until 2019.

Now everyone will expect a good result against struggling Morecambe on Saturday.