When the final whistle blew against Bradford in our final game of the season, my first thoughts were ‘thank god for that’. In my twenty something years of supporting Tranmere, it has been the most frustrating and soul destroying season I have ever put up with. The fact that I have to write ‘put up with’ speaks volumes.
We went into the last match of 13/14 ideally needing a win and hoping that either Crewe or Notts County would be defeated. For around five minutes it looked like our old foes Oldham were about to do us a huge favour when they took a 1-0 lead against County. However, Oldham then went on to concede a penalty (which County scored) and have a man sent off whilst Crewe comfortably won 2-1 against Preston. So even if we had beaten Bradford, we still would have been relegated.
We finally managed to rid ourselves of Ronnie Moore back in February when he was found to have broken the rules on football betting ninety-five times. One of these bets involved Tranmere and it was a bet on us to win in 2013 (and we did!). How Ronnie Moore can claim he was unaware of FA betting rules is beyond me. He then had the stupidity to claim that Tranmere used the situation to their advantage by sacking him. Sacking Ronnie was the logical decision as since February 2013 we had been in terrible form and hadn’t even managed to win back to back under him in the 13/14 season. His recruitment policy for this season was shambolic, unprofessional and his tactical approaches belong in the dark ages. How he managed to get us to the top of the league back in 2012 now mystifies me.
John McMahon, Ronnie’s assistant was given the managerial position until the end of the season. For me, Tranmere got this completely wrong, we drastically needed a new face and approach as it could have saved us from the drop. The main explanation for McMahon being appointed until the end of the season seems to be a financial one. But now, we are going to take a much deeper financial hit by being relegated to League Two.
One of the few positives from the season was the form of local lad Ryan Lowe who had signed a two year deal when he joined in the summer of 2013. However, several weeks after relegation Ryan decided he would start bleating to anyone who would listen in the local media that he needed a new two year deal ‘for his family’. I was amazed by how many people lapped this pathetic lie up, as if Ryan Lowe and his family were somehow on the breadline. The phrase ‘rats leaving a sinking ship’ springs to mind. I shouldn’t be surprised though, as a look into Ryan’s club history proves him to be one of the finest mercenaries the lower leagues have to offer. Bury have decided to chuck all their eggs into one basket and offer him two year deal at the age of 35. Time will tell if that turns out to be a good or bad decision. At least Ryan’s family won’t need to raid a foodbank in Bury any time soon.
We sadly wave goodbye to Ian Goodison will go down as one of the best defenders the club has ever seen. The iconic Jamaican played 410 times for us and even at the age of 41, he still had it. I still believe we should have given him one more year, but maybe that is heart overruling head. His ability to read the game was as sharp as ever and he was one of the few ever present faces in the squad over the last ten years. A testimonial was discussed, but in typical relaxed Goodie style, he never got around to organising it (so the club said recently).
Contracts remain offered to James Wallace and Steve Jennings. We are unlikely to keep both, so I imagine Wallace will be off elsewhere, but I’m hoping that Jennings will sign on. Ash Taylor who had been with the club since he was nine has now moved onto Aberdeen after making over 200 appearances for the club. Ash was a very frustrating player at times, whilst competent at defending, he was extremely prone to punting the ball up field constantly, very rarely did the ball reach its intended target and he picked up a reputation as a result. A new start will do him good as I still believe he will make a decent player for Aberdeen. Joe Thompson who was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in the first few games of the season recently finished his twelve rounds of chemotherapy. Joe aims to resume his playing career this season and is in discussing with the club and PFA regarding his contract.
The search for a new club owner sadly is still ongoing. A false dawn appeared in March when out of the blue, Chairman Peter Johnson announced an imminent sale. The day of unveiling turned into a rather sheepish ‘there is no sale’ announcement which was largely deflating. The Tranmere Rovers Trust were unsuccessful in their takeover bid after they failed to raise suitable funds. Peter Johnson later invited investment from the trust with the offer of a place on the board of directors and then, months later it was revealed that the board had been reorganised to vastly reduce the influence the supporters trust could have had. Personally, I find this hugely frustrating when the club is crying out for investment. Furthermore it pushes fans away that are very willing to contribute, which cannot be healthy for either party.
Robert Edwards was appointed the successor to Ronnie Moore on the 27th May and in his first ever managerial role, he faces a tough task as finances have been restricted even further. Rovers new Chief Executive, Jeremy Butler has announced a new strategy in player recruitment (whether we actually had a strategy prior to this up for debate though). Rovers now aim to recruit young players with potential with an eye to selling them on in the long term. We have a good record of this in the past with players like Jason Koumas, Ryan Taylor, Iain Hume and Aaron Cresswell collectively earning the club 4.6 million pounds. The strategy to me is obvious, but whether Tranmere have the backroom manpower required remains to be seen. However, it is good that the club are being more transparent than ever before and now hopefully we can progress on and off the field in 2014/15.
Written by Kenny Orr, We Are Going Up’s Tranmere Rovers Blogger
Kenny tweets at @That_Bald_Owl