That was the weekend that was: Under-pressure Platt given backing by Gradi

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The Independent Online
AFTER RUNNING his football academy at Crewe for 16 years, Dario Gradi is used to seeing accomplished graduates shine elsewhere. Leicester's Neil Lennon, Liverpool's Danny Murphy, Craig Hignett of Barnsley and Derby's Seth Johnson make up just a small number of former Gradi pupils.

Now the master of coaching is basking in the reflected glory of seeing another of his proteges, the former England captain David Platt, making an impressive start in management. Platt's Nottingham Forest beat Gradi's latest crop of young hopefuls 1-0 on Saturday. Impressive? Excuse me, but is this not the same David Platt whose first foray into management in England has produced just eight wins in 29 matches? Merely details, apparently. Forest fans may have caught the unmistakable sniff of relegation for the second year running but Gradi thinks Platt is doing a terrific job.

"David's not doing anything wrong; it is not his fault," Gradi said. "He is an intelligent, strong-minded guy who obviously knows what he is doing. I've seen Forest play twice now and it is clear that he is having a go at playing his way.

"From a coach's point of view it is interesting to watch and I say good luck to him. Too many teams play the same way. Sometimes, the only thing to distinguish them is the colour of their shirts."

Gradi then harked back to a match he once saw between Burnley and Ajax, when he remembered having similar thoughts. "Ajax did things differently," he said. "The first thing I wanted to ask was, `Who's the coach?' It was Louis van Gaal. He was a strong-minded chap."

So, it seems, Forest fans can rest assured that the future is in good hands. Just so long as they don't mind flirting with the Second Division first ...