"Yes, there were [other clubs interested in Nick Powell]. But I have to say Sir Alex wanted him more than anybody else did. He worked harder at it."

- Dario Gradi, Crewe Alexandra FC

13/06/2012 18:46, Report by Adam Marshall
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Crewe mentor hails Powell

Crewe Alexandra director of football Dario Gradi says new Manchester United signing Nick Powell was in high demand prior to Sir Alex Ferguson's swoop.

In an exclusive interview with MUTV, Gradi - the man who has overseen the development of some top-class talent at Gresty Road - not only praised the young forward but also Sir Alex for the decisive way he acted during the negotiations.

"Nick Powell is a match winner," asserted the Crewe supremo. "He doesn't rely on other people to make the goals for him. He's not a six-yard box player. In fact, we've been trying to encourage him to get in that six-yard box more. But he picks the ball up, runs at people and finishes with a goal. He wins matches on his own.

"I used to watch him in Crewe's Under-16s, training on a Monday night, and he'd hit them in from everywhere. When he joined us and came with the first team, he was a little more reluctant to do that. Perhaps he lost a bit of confidence doing that and he was playing in a more central role for England, where he was passing the ball.

"We managed to persuade him not to do that if you can score. Don't become a 'steady Eddie' if you can become a special player. He scored a terrific goal at Wimbledon for us and it reminded us of the goals he used to score for the Under-16s, going on from there to score some terrific goals."

According to the Crewe supremo, Powell is a unique talent - different to players like Dean Ashton and David Platt who've rolled off the conveyor belt at Gresty Road. "We've had some terrific players at Crewe who went on to play for England, but Nick's not the same as any of them. He does a similar job to [current England player] Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain."

United had to fend off competition from rival clubs for Powell's signature but Sir Alex was determined to win the chase for the 18 year-old after witnessing his talents first hand.

"There was a lot of speculation," revealed Gradi. "Sir Alex came to watch him and then rang me up a couple of days later and said: 'Do you want to do a deal?' I said: 'I thought you were going to watch him for the rest of the season!' Sir Alex explained they were not going to learn much more about him as they'd got him down to a tee. We didn't want to stop the boy joining United so we worked together on an agreement.

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