Well, when I came back to write my second update for Tranmere’s season, the last thing I expected was us to still be top, but there we are.
Since October Tranmere have come back down to earth with a few bumps, but the squad is showing plenty of resolve and desire to stay at the top of the league. The Christmas campaign got off to a bad start on the 19th December with a 5-0 thumping by Swindon, but this was then followed up with 3 wins on the bounce to Crewe, Scunthorpe and Bury.
Refreshingly we have also enjoyed cup success with a live game on ITV4 (which should have been on ITV1, sadly called off due to the weather). The 0-3 away win at Braintree looked surprisingly calm and clinical and included 2 goals from youth players Cole Stockton and Max Power (yes, that really is his name) which is something I love to see. Another live TV match was followed up against MK Dons 4 days later, but this resulted in a poor performance and 0-1 loss.(It had to be the TV game didn’t it?) However, it was nice to see a 10,000+ home support turn out.
Long term injuries to James Wallace and Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro are due to make their returns in the next couple of weeks, if they can stay injury free and maintain their early season form, I now believe we can get the promotion we deserve. Abdulai Bell-Baggie, our tricky midget of a winger has also been out of action for some time, but is expected back in February. I’m unsure whether his game will be affected by wet, boggy pitches now that we are well into Winter, but time will tell. Considering he was playing for Sailsbury last year, its been a great success for both clubs so far. Everyone loves a tricky winger don’t they?
A noticeable impact will be the loss of Jake Cassidy who has netted 11 times in the league this season. Wolves have decided to recall him for 2 weeks for “assessment” (having played his last match against Bury on New Years Day). As much as I can appreciate that he is their player, I fail to see the positivity for either party from this action. Their player was playing in a table topping league side week-in, week-out. But now, this could mean him sitting in the reserves for the rest of the season.
Ronnie Moore has spoken of his unwillingness to wait for Wolves to make a decision, as there are plenty of other strikers out there. Meanwhile, Wolves currently languish in 18th place (at the time of writing) in the league and are struggling for form. So, I would predict, unlikely to start fielding youth in times of low confidence. So what’s the point? Rumours are suggesting that James Vardy, Matt Derbyshire or Jose Baxter could be on Ronnie’s list.
Usually the transfer window means nothing to a Tranmere supporter, but this season might be different. A few of our players are bound to be catching the eye. Sheffield Wednesday have already expressed an interest in left back Zoumana “Zoom” Bakayogo who’s contract runs out in June. Other high performers who’s contract’s expire this season are Owain Fon Williams, Adam McGurk & Cole Stockton. So to avoid any distractions to players midsets, I’d love to see some new contracts dished out, but I think I’m probably getting too hopeful there.
One player I would like to single out for praise is Adam McGurk. I have long been critical of Adam, his occasional moments of skill were too far apart and inbetween we had to put up with injury after injury. I started to believe he was made of porcelain. This season started like every other, a 4 week injury, however since then he has slowly worked his way onto the team sheet and has had some great performances, most lately at Crewe. The Prenton Park crowd has always liked a scapegoat and Adam is that player . I would like to see this end as he is very obviously a confidence player, but one with great potential.
Wednesday 2nd January saw Liam Palmer re-sign on loan until the end of the season from Sheffield Wednesday (great choice of day to do the deal guys). Liam has been an unsung hero of our form lately, he does the job of box-to-box very effectively. Makes no daft errors and isn’t scared to put in a hard challenge. If I had to choose one of our loan players to stay, it would have been him. He helped Sheffield Wednesday to promotion last season, fingers crossed he does it again this season for us.
Other loanee’s Michael O’Halloran (Striker – Bolton) and Donervorn Daniels (WBA) are starting to settle into the side well and are tipped to be re-signing for longer. Credit goes to Ronnie and his back team for finding these talent young players who so easily fit into the side currently.
I would probably take 6th place if offered to me now, but as the games go by, Tranmere fans have to start believing that promotion is a possibility. Even if we don’t finish in the playoff’s, we have had the most enjoyable since Ronnie Moore left back in 2009.
Written by Kenny Orr, We Are Going Up’s Tranmere Rovers Blogger
Kenny tweets at @That_Bald_Owl