GABRIELE CIOFFI admits something wasn’t quite right at Crawley last season.

The man brought in when Harry Kewell was tempted away by Notts County felt like he was driving somebody else’s car.

He says there was “a lot of trauma” along the way and he suspected at one stage he might lose his job.

Now Reds’ Italian head coach has got the squad he wants working the way he wants.

He would love the result to be time to “dream” in League Two and a cup scalp or two along the way.

The second-round victors of Norwich City host struggling Stoke in the Carabao Cup third round tonight with Cioffi putting their chances of success at 0.5%.

You won’t get a price like that from the bookies.

Crawley are unbeaten in six league matches and were in the play-off spots for four days last week.

They dropped back to eighth on Saturday but, in doing so, showed the qualities which could stand them in good stead against the Potters as they came from two goals down late on.

Those are the attributes Cioffi looked to instil as soon as Reds reported back for his first pre-season.

“Hunger, desire, speed, physicality, stamina, energy, belief, trust,” he said when asked what his key messages were as the players reported back.

“We are looking forward to achieve our goals and I am happy about who we are today.

“The past wasn’t great. It was below expectation even though we stayed in the league.

“But it wasn’t my car. Now I am driving the car I want and I can take responsibility.

“I can say this is my squad.”

Cioffi, who played up and down the divisions in Italy as a centre-back, was a surprise appointment by Crawley.

Pierluigi Casiraghi, who was assistant to Gianfranco Zola at Birmingham City, emerged as the bookies’ hot favourite after Kewell’s exit.

Instead Cioffi, the third member of that set-up, got the job, suggesting someone only got half the story before lumping on Casiraghi.

Fans have got used to Cioffi’s Italian idioms translated into English.

He spoke about putting meat into storage for winter as early season results were picked up.

This time he is more straightforward with his message.

“Our goal is 50 points. As soon as we reach 50 points, we have time to dream.

“If we don’t have time to dream, we are happy because we have guaranteed the club stays in the league for another season.”

So where does the visit of Stoke and under-pressure boss Nathan Jones, pictured right, figure in all that?

Cioffi said: “For myself, it is just a game. For the players, it is just a game.

“For the club, it is a huge opportunity.

“But, as I said before against Norwich, for us it is a win-win situation. Win because we have the chance to have a full house and that, for us, is a success.

“And win because maybe we have the 0.5% to go through.

“We will fight until the end to reach the 0.5%.

“If we can support our owner with more money going through the cup competitions, it’s a blessing.”

Cioffi has to get value for money as he builds his squad on gates of around 2,000 plus the backing of the owner.

But the bargains are out there.

He said: “I think there are good managers in this league and a lot of good players.

“In general, especially in our area, there are a lot of players who didn’t have the success they deserved for a lot of reasons.

“We are a club who want to help them show what they can be.”

Reece Grego-Cox, who scored one and forced a penalty in last week’s home draw against Plymouth, might fit that bill.

He made his QPR debut against Tottenham and totalled five appearances before being released last year.

He says there is talent in the Crawley squad although the endeavour and resilience demanded by Cioffi have been more to the fore in recent games.

The 22-year-old right-winger said: “He (Cioffi) knows we are good players.

“If he can get the passion and belief, the football will shine.

“Stoke is a big game but we go into it the same as we did for Norwich.

“They are coming to our ground and it is going to be tricky for them. They are coming to a stadium they are probably not used to.

“It is a bit more edgy, the way we play football. It’s not that neat, tidy Premier League or Championship football.

“It’s going to be a good game, a good test but I think, where they are on a downward spiral, we have got to take the game to them.”