Following Tranmere’s defeat at Leyton Orient, there have been many examinations of where the current squad is and the way it’s being added to/operated by supporters. The only examination of great importance will happen internally and I still have the trust and faith in the Palios’ and the coaching team to do this correctly.
I gave my thoughts on five of the biggest Tranmere talking points ahead of the game at Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night.
1. ‘Palios’ and Mellon out’.
There have been calls recently for major change at the club, with shouts for the owners and manager to leave. The doubts and reasons behind these consist of poor recruitment, poor tactics and a frustrating means of communication with supporters. Personally, I don’t think that any great change needs to happen as I believe that the Palios’ have perfectly seen Tranmere through a pandemic and Micky Mellon is someone who I will always have great trust and faith in for what he has done at Prenton Park in the past. However, that is not to say that I don’t see where issues between all concerned parties lie. Micky has got his tactics and team selection wrong at times this campaign, in my opinion, yet he will have a greater understanding of this considering he works with the team every day on the training ground. Plus, some elements of the recruitment have been questionable as I look at the options and depth that we have in the squad particularly up front as The Whites have a poor goalscoring record in the 2021/22 campaign. An argument for this? You could argue that the recruitment process for the summer of 2021 was always going to be difficult, if you consider the high turnover.
2. Slow combinations and players.
Something which I have noticed thus far is the slow combinations and players that Tranmere have as some members of the squad which were described as the ‘spine’ of the team last season continue to age. I won’t name them but a particular defensive duo seem to make many mistakes when they play together and in truth my thoughts on who our best central defender is has changed. A defensive midfielder seems to have been off the boils recently and these are all issues that need to be sorted out as with the squad members that Rovers possess they should be able to play in a fast and attacking manner with players such as Cogley, MacDonald, Morris and Hawkes all able to cause problems from the wings and there are players with experience but also those with fresh young legs looking to prove themselves in the centre of the park. Chris Merrie, it’s time to see more of him I’d say.
3. No FA Cup 3rd round lifeline this time.
Something that has seemed to help Rovers each and every season with Mellon at the helm is the FA Cup 3rd round as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have graced the turf of Prenton Park in recent seasons, these games bringing money into the club that has seen players such as James Vaughan come to Merseyside. This time round, there will be no third round money and this is a sense of worry as there seems to be a few places to fill in next month’s window. I just hope that the Palios’ and the Indonesian investment will be able to spend some money. I’d like to see a centre back and a striker come in. However, we’ll just have to wait, see and pray for what happens on that front.
4. So, where do we go and what would I do?
This is an important question that needs answering as it is a question that has been asked by many following the team’s second round embarrassment. My answer to this won’t count for much as I’m not in any position of power. However, this is what I’d like to be done. I’d like to see Tranmere play on the front foot and if that is a slightly more riskier manner of playing football then so be it. I believe we have the players to attack even if you may look at the strikers and somewhat disagree. However, if we were to set up with more pace and power more goals would come from elsewhere and with the wing options that are at the club it’s something that should definitely be considered. In the centre of the park, without naming names, I’d like to see two players be given less gametime as I feel they’ve underperformed this campaign and we have younger more versatile options for those positions. We’ve got the players, to a relative degree, I’d just like to see them being operated slightly better.
Is promotion still a possibility? I believe so but that will depend on our immediate playing style and player selection as well as hopefully adding a few more fresh faces looking to prove a point next month. We need to start scoring more.
5. A look towards Oldham.
Oldham Athletic currently sit in 23rd thus they may be seen as perfect opposition to play as Mellon’s men aim to return to a period of good league form. However, in their last time out they beat Sunderland which proves that they’re a tough outfit to compete against in itself. It’ll be an interesting encounter and the team news which will be displayed an hour before kick off will add to that as I’d like to see some changes made to add pace and quality into the eleven. It will be down to the players though, on the night, to show determination and their qualities which were certainly lacking on the weekend.
You can read my ‘meeting the opposition’ feature with an Oldham Athletic supporter ahead of the League Two encounter at Boundary Park.