Dave Higgins and new Morecambe manager Ged Brannan played in the same 1990’s side that saw Tranmere rise to glory.
There were a great number of young stars coming through at the time after Birkenhead-born Warwick Rimmer set up the Youth Section of the club in 1987.
The Rovers won promotion from the third division in 1991 and knocked on the door of the Premier League on a few occasions.
Higgins spoke about the talented, energetic Brannan whilst also reminiscing about that great period of time.
Higgins said “He (Brannan) certainly had the ability, quite a lot of young lads came through into the first team and so did he. He went on to play for Manchester City so that shows you the talent that he had”.
There were a plethora of intelligent football coaches around Prenton Park at the time, managed by the great late Johnny King.
Brannan understood that there were a lot of people he could learn from and would always be listening intently to pick up on any advice that he could.
Brannan’s ability to take this feedback on board is why it comes as no surprise to Higgins that the 51-year-old has just entered his first managerial role.
Higgins said “He was a good listener, always willing to learn so I’m not surprised that he’s gone into management. He’s had some great grounding”.
Brannan would pick up on what he could see within the squad too, with there being great stars such as Tony Thomas and Kenny Irons available to have a word with.
Higgins said “Kenny Irons, Tony Thomas etc all come through. Brannan was a great bit of talent to have, it was great to have him on board because he was a team player”.
Due to the amount of local talent that Rimmer was able to pick up on, there was a great camaraderie within the squad. They would give each other lifts on the way to training and matches, always having something to talk about.
Higgins said “A lot of the Liverpool based lads would come through and we’d offer each other lifts, we’d talk about what had been going on and how we could get the team as far as we could”.
Despite the experience of being on Morecambe’s coaching staff under Derek Adams, Brannan hadn’t previously managed at any level before.
However, Higgins believes that he’s seen enough already to be successful “Ged hadn’t managed at any level but he’d seen the way that Warwick Rimmer and Johnny King had coached him.
“Ged came through, trained very well and never gave up, all those attributes he will take with him into management”.
Higgins knows that many questions will be asked of his former teammate in his new role. At the time of writing, the Shrimps are positioned 12th in League Two having been relegated from the division above at the end of the 2022/23 season.
However, he believes that Brannan’s resilience will be of great help and that he may even go further in his managerial career “Morecambe have just been relegated, their manager has just been relieved of his duties so there are clearly some issues.
“Ged won’t think he’s made it unless he’s achieved promotion, he’ll keep working hard and get the best men around him. “He’s got the brain and the knowledge to go a hell of a lot further”.
Higgins also added that “Ged will keep learning, keep going and keep trying to force things forward. He won’t stand still, if they win a few on the bounce he won’t get carried away and I think that’s one of his good characteristics”.
Throughout Brannan’s footballing career, which saw him make a move to Manchester City for a reported £750,000 in March 1997, the midfielder played in a wide range of games played with varied levels of intensity. Some of his matches proved to be “really tight” whilst others were more open and “a lot of goals were scored”.
Higgins believes that “He (Brannan) was able to understand the game better as (manager) Johnny King showed him in his own mind how to watch teams and what to look out for, so he will do his homework”.
One particular game that the pair played in together was Tranmere’s third division play-off final against Bolton Wanderers. The two started the move that led to Chris Malkin’s winning goal, which came in extra-time.
Higgins said “It (the goal) started with a corner for Bolton, I played the ball off to Ged (Brannan) and the rest is history”.
Brannan’s first test as Morecambe boss came on November 28th as his side were narrowly beaten by Newport County at the Mazuma Stadium.
They are back in league action, after recently progressing through to the third round of the FA Cup with a 2-0 victory away at Wycombe Wanderers, on Saturday as they host league leaders Stockport County.