Scunthorpe United – meeting the opposition.

Scunthorpe United – ‘meeting the opposition’.

This Saturday afternoon Tranmere revisit Glanford Park for another ninety minutes of League Two action. Ahead of the clash in North Lincolnshire, I caught up with Iron supporter @tobyskelt0n

Last season I spoke to Toby for his first ‘meeting the opposition’ feature with myself and his love for Scunthorpe United shone. He has been watching the Iron for as long as he can remember and the greatest moment he has experienced with them so far? Winning promotion to the Championship via the Play-offs in 2009. This time round I asked him about his current thoughts on the club’s manager and owner, the upcoming game and the threats to watch for either side. 

Having a look back at last season, how would you say it went in terms of expected success and how will the upcoming campaign be different? What are your expectations/predictions/ambitions for the next ten months?

Last season we ended up precariously close to relegation, barely clinging onto our football league status. Securing our place in the league was always the main target though, so it wasn’t too much of a shock seeing us down at the bottom end of the table. I’d expect a similar sort of season this time around, as many of our more gifted players have moved on. If we once again manage to stay in League Two for another season, it will be a success for the club.

What are your thoughts on gaffer Neil Cox? He has held this role now for just over twelve months and was Neal Ardley’s respective assistant at AFC Wimbledon and Notts County.

Neil Cox has always had a tough time at the club, presiding over long periods of poor results and things generally going against him. One of these was the transfer embargo placed on us this summer, which has limited the number of players we can sign. Cox has, however, managed to bring in a set of players who, so far, look far more committed than the last set of players, and I believe that now he has finally been allowed to bring in his own players, the team will gradually improve.

What are your thoughts on the way that the club is run? The owners in particular, who are they and how long have they been at the club?

Peter Swann is the chairman, having been at the Iron since the summer of 2013. Under his tenure, the club has enjoyed relative success as promotion contenders at the top end in League One, but now it faces perhaps its most perilous period in its 122 year history. Finances have been slashed, even before the pandemic as a result of overspending and now it appears the club is paying the price for those halcyon League One days. Swann has taken away all of the club’s assets, so naturally there is a hesitancy from the club’s supporters to fully trust the chairman at the moment.

What players will pose the greatest threats to Tranmere at Glanford Park?

I’d say Devarn Green poses the biggest threat. He’s started the season brightly, demonstrating electric pace and a determination to run at any defence. His final pass or touch seems to be lacking however, and is something he needs to work on to become to complete package. We are short on attacking options at the moment, but loan striker Jake Scrimshaw scored on his debut last week, and seems to be a real talent already. He works hard off the ball and showed great agility with his goal against Sutton.

In general, what are your thoughts on Tranmere as a club and where do you think they will finish come May? Who do you believe are their key men?

Tranmere have had a tough start to the season, but I do see them challenging for a playoff spot. They’re a big club at this level, and I’m sure promotion will be the club’s aim, especially after losing in the play offs last season. I’d say their key men would be the experienced players like Jay Spearing and Callum McManaman. Having that experience is invaluable at League Two level, and both players have played at a far higher level.

What is your score prediction and how do you think Cox will address this game from a tactical perspective?

My score prediction is 0-0. I’m going for that as Scunthorpe look much improved defensively, but rather blunt up top. Tranmere themselves have only scored once in the league this season, so I’m not expecting a high scoring match. I think Cox will focus on defensive stability, and if we are to have any success in this match, I’d like to see Scrimshaw given better support around him, rather than endless punts up towards him.

The game may see a return of a familiar face for Rovers in United forward Devarn Green. However, what are your thoughts on him and the transfer business Scunthorpe have been able to complete thus far across the course of the summer?

Green is probably the most exciting player in our squad at the moment. With the departures of Abo Eisa and Kevin van Veen in the summer, Green is largely perceived to be the flair player in the squad, the one who can get the fans off of their seats. Our transfer business has been hampered by the embargo, but the players we have brought in all seem to have put in very good effort levels, even if sometimes their quality can be slightly lacking.

If you could change one thing or sign one player in the next few days, what would that change or transfer be at the club?

Tough question! The one thing I would change would be the embargo. Currently, we have 23 “professional” players in the squad, which fills the limit. This means that in order to sign anyone, we have to get rid of players first. The squad is already rather thin, with injuries and covid cases decimating the squad in recent weeks. Removing the embargo would mean we could finally have that strength in depth which we so desperately require. The one player I would sign would be Jem Karacan. We had him at the end of last season and it was clear to see that he was a cut above the rest. He was a calming presence in the centre of the park, and was exactly the experienced, cool character we needed in the squad.

Former Rovers forward Devarn Green is now one of the hosts main attacking threats. ‘Green is probably the most exciting player in our squad’.

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