Apologies its been a while since you’ve had a Tranmere related blog update, its just that I haven’t been able to take my eyes off the league table, through fear of not making enough of “the moment”. Tranmere Rovers are now living proof of the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, allow me to explain…
Tranmere fans, since the end of the 2008/09 season, have been put through the mill several times over. Ronnie Moore, a long club servant was sacked suddenly after a gallant attempt at promotion failed on the final day of the season at Scunthorpe United with two minutes remaining thanks to a header from Cliff Byrne. Although supporters were disappointed, we left Glanford Park proud that day.
A couple of weeks later that summer, the chaos well and truly began. Our long standing chairman, Peter Johnson sacked Ronnie Moore and replaced him with John Barnes and Jason McAteer. Unsurprisingly, the experiment failed spectacularly, and after only eleven league games and resulted in some of the most dire Tranmere performances I have ever witnessed.
Then the job was then given to our physio, Les Parry. The less said about Les’s rein, the better. Les was happy to setup for 1-0’s at home 0-0’s away. If it’s an essential game, you can understand that approach, but not for the best part of three seasons. After 141 games, 40 wins and a run of one win in twenty he was gladly booted out of Prenton Park. Ronnie Moore was welcomed back in March 2012 with twelve games left to save the club from another relegation in which he succeeded and was rewarded with a years contract.
This season, our financial budget has been stricter than ever, and is supposedly the lowest in the football league (if the rumours are true). A lack of a cup run or a large transfer has hit us hard. This is exasperated by a chairman desperate to sell us for £6 million pounds, making the Tranmere hot seat a very tough task. Our current squad is only made up of twenty-four players, including loans and first year pro’s.
Two loan signings made a huge contribution, Liam Palmer (Sheff Weds), Jake Cassidy (Wolves) are only contracted till January, the question over whether they will be retained for the rest of the season remains. But at the moment, it is seen as priority number 1.
Ben Burgess (ex Hull and Blackpool) was signed over the summer but decided to retire after three games of pre-season due to an prolonged knee injury. I believe this has been crucial to Tranmere’s form this season. Ben was seen as our target man, with his exit days before the season started, we were left with Jake Cassidy and Jean-Louis Akpa-Apkro up front.
As they are relatively small compared to Burgess, we have been forced to play a passing game, rather than relying on a more direct approach. Obviously, this has paid dividends as clearly the players are fully capable of doing this and we are playing a quick passing game.
It has also been nice to see existing squad players make the step up in performance. Andy Robinson, Birkenhead born is leading by example with seven goals from midfield. The former Swansea and Leeds attacking midfielder had struggled with consistency previously, but this year he has been unstoppable. He got his first hat-trick against Carlisle away early on this season.
Other players worthy of mention are goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams and centre-back Ash Taylor, now Welsh internationals (senior and U21’s). Both have contributed greatly to the water-tight defence and two players I would have as a priority in contract negotiations this coming season.
Our last game on Tuesday saw us come full circle and beat Scunthorpe 1-3 after going behind. We are still top of the league on twenty-four points and it is officially the clubs greatest start to a season. Its just a shame we didn’t beat them by that score line back in 2009, then we would have missed what has largely been a tedious and testing three years.
Written by Kenny Orr, We Are Going Up’s Tranmere Rovers Blogger
Kenny tweets at @That_Bald_Owl