The play-offs are close … but are they? My thoughts on Tranmere.

After two victories recently against Doncaster Rovers and Barrow I thought that maybe we would start to go on a run of form and have a good transfer window that increases our chances of gaining promotion to League One come May. 

However, with that performance away at Barrow being followed up by one point from the next two games and with a manager commenting that we are still skint and looking at ways of getting more money into the club by giving players away, I’m left questioning the future of The Rovers. 

Micky Mellon has never once said that we have loads of money, it is instead the man that employs him that has said we have the top third budget in the league whilst we currently sit in the bottom half of the table and look to be going nowhere but backwards.

In truth, it isn’t the money that bothers me, it is the way that we have been ‘spending’ it and focusing on one singular aim: gathering a young group of players as the youth system isn’t working. 

I think it would be right to say that we have some very good players who don’t get much minutes, I see Rhys Hughes and Jake Burton on the bench who have shown what they’re capable of when given the nod. Burton scored away at Grimsby Town, showing his desire to get a point or three for The Scotsman’s side. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be starting Burton or Hughes or even Mcalear. However, I think that we should be doing more to aid them in their progression as when we need a goal which we have done in the past two games we have brought the likes of Jon Nolan on for the last five when we have energetic attackers on the bench, I’d say it beggars belief.

We bought Mcalear on for the last five minutes for the home match against Sutton United, I don’t see how that will affect the game when we could’ve brought him on much earlier with our attacking intent dying as soon as Ross Doohan made the mistakes of all mistakes and gifted the opponents an equaliser. 

There seems to be a sense of apathy around the club at this moment in time, the atmosphere was very subdued on Saturday afternoon. There is an argument that this is down to the memorial service held before the game. I’d disagree and say that it was down to the performance, second best for the majority and playing the ball nowhere when on the attack. 

There are some positives at the club, I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t have a great defence with full-backs such as Josh Dacres-Cogley and Ethan Bristow and experienced centre-backs in Tom Davies and Jordan Turnbull. 

There is a sense of worry though that as it looks most likely we won’t get promoted, rumours that Bristow to Peterborough United and Cogley to Aberdeen may come true. 

We still could be a League One team next season, the quality of the division means that although we haven’t been firing for the majority of the campaign we are four points off play-offs. However, for that dream to come true we will need to sign an attacker or three that can bring the ball forward, cross the ball into the box and fire it into the ‘onion bag’. 

I wish I was a good scout when it came to coming up with names for those roles, for now I think it would just be right to say why we need improvements. 

Joel Mumbongo and Elliott Nevitt have unfortunately not been doing the business this season, yet it is still early days for Mumbongo as he has come back from an injury and it seems he can hold the ball up to some extent. Nevitt’s form has been worrying, he was fairly ineffective in the weekend’s draw to The U’s and seems to be a man who could just do a job in the final twenty, we’re not really in the need of keeping those sort of squad members around.

The signing of Paul Glatzel in this area last Summer was slightly baffling when we know how injury prone he is. 

Jolley and Burton need more minutes when the above are our options, if we are about progressing the future’s of young players it seems silly to be doing the opposite to one of our academy’s own. 

For me, Josh Hawkes isn’t a fantastic winger thus I’d look to bring in a good dependable man for the left hand side which would make Bristow’s job that little bit easier as he is our greatest outlet on that flank. Would I keep Hawkes? Probably, yes. However, he’s more of a number ten in my opinion as seen by his goals where he cuts inside. 

I also don’t believe that Chris Merrie and Lee O’Connor work together well, I love them both as players but I believe O’Connor needs a different partner. Someone with experience, height and a great ability to bring the ball forwards. It is those two reasons, height and a ball playing ability, why I don’t understand the reason to get Rhys Hughes on the pitch more. 

Again, we’re stinting the future of a talented youngster who could offer us something more than we are seeing on a consistent basis whilst Paul Lewis is out (experience). 

I question our recruitment once again when I look at the two-year contract given to keeper Doohan, not much faith was placed in him when he was taken out of the team as we were looking to gain promotion last year and he hasn’t proved that he was worth a second chance when it has been given to him. 

In my opinion, he lacks the quality required to compete at the top end of the league and although he is young so it can be skills learned through training sessions he hasn’t done enough to take to the pitch every match. He looks too weak when coming out for the ball, he has made great mistakes and his distribution can be questioned. Mellon’s claim of him being a future Scotland international seems nothing short of laughable. It will be interesting to see where he is at the end of the contract.

It is with all these worries: a subdued atmosphere, a sense of misalignment and a manager not getting the most out of his team (In my opinion) why I question the future of the club as we head backwards. Stockport County and Wrexham are two big nearby clubs, with more money than ourselves seemingly, and I can see them gaining on us as they get the better players. Wrexham will soon be an EFL club and a good one at that. 

It’s time to get back to the drawing board, make sure we’re heading in the right direction and improve the quality of our squad .. the play-offs are close, but are they? 

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