‘Meeting the opposition’ – Leicester City F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Leicester City F.C

Tranmere progressed into the knock-out stages of the ‘Papa Johns’ trophy, following a successful group stage. Their reward? A home tie against Leicester City’s Under 21s. The contest will take place on Wednesday night and it should be a good test  for the Whites against a young and energetic opposition.

I thought it would be necessary to speak to a Leicester City supporter to get their views on the club’s on and off the pitch matters and get an insight into the club’s promising talents; amongst other subjects. I placed questions towards Nathan Hobill to do so.

How long has Nathan been supporting the Foxes?

‘I have been supporting Leicester since around 2007ish, my uncle took me to the Walkers Stadium (the name at the time) and I’ve not looked back since’

Leicester’s last campaign:

‘In the last campaign, our academy reached the Quarter Final of the Leasing.com trophy. League Two Newport County beat us at the Rodney Parade stadium’.

Thoughts on the academy and first-team managers:

‘A lot of our fans have been very critical of our Academy manager Steve Beaglehole, some feel like he hasn’t got the best out of the squad which is a very fair and true piece of criticism in my opinion. However, first team manager Brendan Rodgers is top notch. He can make some strange substitutions which either make or break our games but overall I think he’s the one that can lead us to a trophy’.

Expectations for this campaign:

‘My realistic aim at the start of the season was top 4. We’re currently sitting in 3rd so we’re on track, we’ve been very inconsistent throughout and our home form is a huge letdown’.

The visitors ‘one to watch’:

‘Our main danger man was probably Admiral Muskwe but this week in the January transfer window he’s headed out to Wycombe Wanderers on loan. It’s a very good move for him if he’s promised game time but definitely a big blow for the academy team. Other than him I’d probably say Thakgalo Leshabela as he’s been knocking on the door of the first team. Thakgalo has been on the bench for a couple of Premier League and Europa League fixtures this campaign’.

Score prediction:

‘I’m honestly not too sure as it is always difficult to predict a game where a senior team is coming up against an academy. I suppose it all depends if Tranmere go full strength or not. I’m gonna go for 2-1 Leicester though, just to back my team (laughs)’.

Random fact about Leicester City:

‘There are a few interesting facts about Leicester City. One, Gary Lineker is a massive Leicester fan and he was born here too which is the same with the legend that is Emile Heskey. A very good fact, as well as a flex, Peter Shilton was a Leicester City player when he won the World Cup with England in 1966’.

Proudest moment as a supporter of the club:

‘Silly question really (laughs), the infamous 2015/16 campaign where we lifted the Barclays Premier League trophy. This would end up by being Quarter Finalists in the Champions League the following season, being knocked out by the great Atletico Madrid’.

An opposition fan’s views on the Whites:

‘I don’t really have an opinion on Tranmere to be fair, all I can really say on the hosts is that I have a few friends from Tranmere and they’re a decent bunch. Good luck tonight 😉 ‘ 

  • The Foxes’ promising academy talent  Thakgalo Leshabela, the 21-year-old midfielder may feature at Prenton Park in tonight’s Papa Johns trophy cup tie.

I would like to thank Nathan Hobill for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This cup tie should be an interesting occasion as youngsters come up against strong seniors. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord.

Ole’s most memorable games as United manager. It’s been an eventful two years.

‘Ole’s at the wheel, tell me, how good does it feel?’ – The most iconic games of Solskjaer’s first two years in the Old Trafford hot-seat as the Norweigan continues the search for his first trophy win as the Red Devils’ manager.

Ole’s time at Old Trafford has been a mixed one so far, experiencing both periods of upset and victory. The media has seen the Norweigan as someone to pick at after most defeats and the lack of a trophy win has been a cause for concern. However, the quality of the side has evidently been built on. 

I personally believe that he has been a successful appointment and some of the games that he has managed has made his desired game plan of attacking entertainment evident. From the iconic Champions League comeback in Paris to the defeat at home to Tottenham, it has certainly not been boring as United look to improve themselves on and off the pitch.

Cardiff City (A) won 5-1 – @CardiffCityStadium – 22nd December 2018. Ole’s first game as United manager. The freedom that the Norweigan would aim to bring to the Manchester club was put on display, it became obvious that Mourinho’s replacement would set out to win games positivily by using their attacking flair. Marcus Rashford, Ander Herera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard put all their names on the scoresheet. Lingard with a brace. The victory in South Wales was the start of a twelve game unbeaten run, including a victory at Tottenham and a draw at home to Liverpool. Great FA Cup victories in London were also a part of this successful period, beating Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

PSG (A) won 3-1 – @ParcDesPrinces – 6th March 2019.

One of Ole’s greatest games as United manager. A last-ditch penalty on French soil by the striving academy product Marcus Rashford saw the club progressing to the Quarter-finals of the Champions League. A game to remember as progress didn’t seem possible.

Wolves (A) defeat 2-1 – @Molineux – 16th March 2019. 

The Norweigan’s ‘honeymoon period was brought to a halt as cracks started to show in what had been a really successful time at the club for Ole. A disappointing end to the season was brought on by a cup defeat in Wolverhampton and the need for a great recruitment process became obvious, if it hadn’t already been. 

Everton (A) defeat 4-0 – @GoodisonPark – 21st April 2019. 

Cracks became ‘cancerous’ as Gary Neville’s frustrations were put into an passionate rant on Sky Sports, this game made it distinct that there were MAJOR problems. 

Chelsea (H) won 4-0 – @OldTrafford – 11th August 2019. 

Ole’s Manchester United smashed the new Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. It was a very fluid game and the red forwards continued to run with pace at the visiting defence.

Manchester City (A) won 2-1 – @EtihadStadium – 7th December 2019. 

When United travelled to the Etihad in the December of 2019, few would have predicted that the Reds would win the league encounter. However, much to the pleasure of the many travelling supporters, they did. Academy product Marcus Rashord and Anthony Martial got their names on the scoresheet as United won a ‘big’ game, a win that meant a lot to Ole as it showed the capabilities of his managerial qualities and the quality of his team.

Manchester City (H) won 2-0 – @OldTrafford – 8th March 2020.

The last game with fans in the stadium was a Manchester derby, what a game for supporters to go out on. United did what they did best and Scott Mctominay pounced on a free ball after a loose goal kick from Ederson to make sure that the hosts won, it was an emotional moment for the club’s faithful. Ole looked up to Sir Alex whilst academy product Mctominay celebrated in front of many delirious fans, a moment to remember.

Manchester City (H) lost 3-1 – @OldTrafford – 7th January 2020. Chelsea (N) lost 3-1 – @WembleyStadium – 19th July 2020. Sevilla (N) lost 2-1 – @RheinEnergieStadion.

Ole’s side would lose all of their cup semi-finals, which was a devastating blow to what had been a relatively successful season. United would finish in the top four but missing out on a trophy win was a great blow, the media placed criticism on to the Norweigan back for this.

Tottenham Hotspur (H) lost 6-1 – @OldTrafford – 4th October 2020.

Disastrous performance by the red devils at Old Trafford. Doubt, major doubt was placed on Ole and his side as it should have been. It was a devastating start to the campaign for the red devils. Three defeats in the opening six, losing to Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. This performance was symbolic of the start, a lot had to be done to change the way that the season was looking to pan out.

Everton (A) won 3-1 – @GoodisonPark – 7th November 2020.

Ole’s job was seen by the media as being ‘on the line’. All doubts were put to bed with a sparkling performance by the Norweigan’s team. Bruno Fernandes, again, showing his quality scoring two goals and assisting Edinson Cavani late on.

Southampton (A) won 3-2 – @StMarys – 29th November 2020.

An ability to comeback was again shown on the road, Cavani was linked to the league winning robin Van Persie with two goals late on to be victorious. This game showed a lot about the manager that Ole is as he made the substitutions that would win the game and the side’s quality of going until the last minute was proven.

Leeds United (H) won 6-2 – @OldTrafford – 20th December 2020.

A game that made the red devils attacking intent evident, this encounter against Marcelo Bielsa’s local rivals was seen by the media and football fans globally as a fight between two sides who set out to attack. This happened. Leeds’ defence was left open to exploit whilst their forwards went up the pitch and Ole’s side showed their quality by exposing the open defence. Scott Mctominay aided the scoreline with two quick-fire goals in the opening three minutes.

Everton (A) won 2-0 – @GoodisonPark – 23rd December 2020.

Manchester United reached their fourth cup semi-final with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a good performance in Merseyside a couple of days before Christmas. New signing Edinson Cavani and Frenchman Anthony Martial put their names on the scoresheet with late strikes following a very closely fought out ninety minutes. A performance that brought great optimism for Ole’s side.

Solskjaer will be hoping that tonight’s carabao cup semi-final is another game to remember, for all the right reasons. Even if it isn’t, fans should be optimistic and excited about the possibility of a ‘title charge’.

Thank you very much for reading,

All the very best,

Ethan Hoijord

Ole’s recruitment at Manchester United and the Old Trafford’s club’s plans to strengthen moving forwards.

The recruitment of Manchester United throughout Ole’s reign and what positions should the club look to strengthen to have a positive future moving forwards?

Ole was appointed in the winter of 2018, on a temporary basis following the departure of Jose Mourinho. The Portugese manager’s time at the club hadn’t been as successful as promised, he had failed to replicate what he had displayed in his time at London as he had previously won three titles at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho, aided with a lack of support from the Old Trafford hierarchy, left his successor with a gigantic task to turn around fortunes. Ole has, in my opinion, done this task very well. United now look after seven years, despite rumours that the Norweigan would be sacked for a blip in results, like potential title challengers. Is the red devils’ 21st first-division title on the horizon as they look to also add a carabao cup to their long list of honours?

One major factor that has contributed to the club’s on-field success’ is the successful recruitment that has been made. 

When Mourinho departed from Old Trafford, it was obvious that the squad he had built wasn’t good enough. There was a distinct lack of depth and quality and through many meetings with the press he stated his frustrations. None of his frustrations were voiced more than when he pointed out the lack of quality in the squad that he was able to take on the pre-season tour of the USA.  

Goalkeepers –  

This area wasn’t too much of a problem for the club whilst they searched for a positive way forwards. Even still, it is a position that has been strengthened by the addition of youngster Dean Henderson who had a very bright loan spell at Sheffield United. This is much to the displeasure of Sergio Romero as the Argentine looks for a way out in the search of first team football, it has been made relatively evident that De Gea and Henderson are Ole’s preferred shot-stoppers. The 23-year-old keeper has featured in cup games throughout this campaign. 

Defenders – 

The main reason for Jose’s outburst of emotions towards the press on the tour of the States in 2018 is that there was a great need for a centre half. There were rumours of Diego Godin, Jerome Boateng and Toby Alderweireld signing for the Red’s yet none of these put pen to paper. In fact, four of the nine defenders that travelled on that trip have departed and a few that have stayed are far away from a sniff of first team football. Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones being on that list. Solskjaer has overseen the departures of veteran full-backs such as Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. The defensive rank has been boosted by the major signings of Harry Maguire (£80million from Leicester City), Aaron WanBissaka (£50m from Crystal Palace) and Alex Telles (undisclosed from Porto). Maguire, who is an experienced England defender has been named captain thus it is obvious that he has been a successful addition as the dressing room was one that lacked leadership in previous times. However, moving on I believe another right back and centre half should be recruited if the club is to be successful during Ole’s reign.

Midfielders – 

What a signing Bruno Fernandes has been! 

Again, I look back on the squad that travelled to the States a few months before Mourinho’s departure. It was evident that there was a lack of quality in the attacking area of play in this position. Lingard, Andreas Periera, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba were the main attackers. Lingard and Periera find themselves out of the team and it is possible that they may never return into the mix of those that start. I believe they should search for another club, David Moyes’ West Ham have been linked with Lingard on a regular basis. 

One of Ole’s first departures was the centre-midfielder Maroune Fellaini and since then Herrera has moved on. Ole has got the best out of the talents of Scott Mctominay and Fred, the £50m signing receiving rave reports for his performances this season whilst the youth academy product has shown his quality with two quick fire goals against Leeds United and a beautiful winner against Pep’s side the last time they made the short trip to Old Trafford. I believe that, if the club is to be successful moving forwards, a defensive midfielder should be recruited. 

The club has been linked with Premier League stars Declan Rice and N’golo Kante and the Ecuadorian talent Moises Caicedo has looked closer and closer to signing on the dotted line in the recent weeks even if United have pulled their noses up at a £10million price tag. Another signing that Solskjaer has made that has great potential to become a world class player is the 2-year-old midfielder Donny Van De Beek. The dutchman has struggled to get much game time, which has put Ole under a great deal of criticism, yet when he has played he has shown his quality and I do believe that it is good to integrate him into the team in games that he is ready for. Sometimes too much too soon is a recipe for disaster. 

  • Bruno Fernandes is Ole’s best signing! The attacking midfielder has scored 19 in 30 appearances since signing in the January of 2020 and whether most of these goals have been penalties or not, when you contribute the assists and the boost he has had on the club he probably wins the argument when you’re thinking of the best signing since Sir Alex’s retirement. His contribution has been spoken about by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, the Liverpool legend claiming that Fernandes has had an effect on the club that is similar to ‘King’ Eric Cantona’s in the early 1990’s.

Forwards – 

Mourinho included four forwards in his plans that summer: Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and frenchman Anthony Martial. 

In passionate interviews, for example the one with the press following the away defeat to Everton, Ole said that players that lacked the spirit it took to work hard and impress him would be removed from the club. This was done as Lukaku and Sanchez found new clubs on foreign shores, both at the respective Inter Milan. 

Ole has brought a few attackers to the club whilst also aiding the careers of starman Mason Greenwood, who played his first senior match in 2018. Daniel James has been recruited after the youngster impressed for Swansea City. Uruguayans Edinson Cavani and Facundo Pellestri were both signed in the summer of 2020, Cavani showing what he is capable of scoring goals against Southampton and Everton before cruelly being suspended for the usage of an alleged ‘racist’ word on his social media. 

I believe that a right winger should be signed. Jadon Sancho has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for a while now and it is about time that he signed for the red devils, despite a blip in form at the WestFalenStadion.

  • Arguably Manchester United’s greatest signing in the post-Fergie era Bruno Fernandes. The dazzling Portugese playmaker has had a lot to celebrate as he continues to change the fortunes of the Old Trafford club. 

The squad:

GK – David De Gea, Dean Henderson, Sergio Romero, Lee Grant, Joel Perriera.

DF – Aaron Wan Bissaka, Brandon Williams, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Teden Mengi, Marcos Rojo, Alex Telles, Luke Shaw.

MDF – Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Perriera, Facundo Pellestri, Daniel James, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Nemanja Matic, Donny Van De Beek, James Garner.

FW – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Odion Ighalo, Tatith Chong.

Thank you very much for reading,

All the very best,

Ethan Hoijord

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Barnsley F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Barnsley F.C

Tranmere’s first game of the new year will follow a long journey to Barnsley. The fixture will be a FA Cup tie and it will be played at the Tykes’ Oakwell Stadium. This game will be a real test of the Whites’ quality and character as the hosts sit 9th in the Championship table, is a miraculous cup knock-out possible?. I thought it would be essential to speak to a Barnsley fan to get their views on the club’s on and off the pitch matters; amongst other subjects. I placed questions towards @mattdogbfc to do so.

How long has @mattdogbfc been supporting the Tykes’?

  • ‘I’ve been a supporter of the club since 2010, ever since my Grandad started to take me to the games. It made me fall in love with football.’

Why are the hosts called the ‘Tykes’?

  • The name comes from a traditional and hard working Yorkshire character I do believe. Our mascot is also nicknamed ‘Toby Tyke’.

Barnsley’s last season:

  • ‘ We finished 21st last season, a 91st minute winning goal away at Brentford meant that we escaped relegation on the final day of the season. It was a very dramatic moment but you experience plenty of them as a Reds’ fan’

Thoughts on manager Valerien Ismael:

  • ‘Our current manager Valerien Ismael has been a breath of fresh air ever since his appointment in the October of last year. He has helped us to find a formula that makes the team win games. We have struggled badly under previous managers hence why we are high in the table with a new manager. You could argue that we are surprising everyone’.

Expectations for this campaign:

  • ‘We have been absolutely exceptional this season. I expected us to sit in a comfortable mid table position or even just avoid a relegation battle in an attempt to better ourselves from the last campaign. However, we have gone further and sit 9th three points away from the playoffs. So if we get this January transfer window spot on then who knows where this young, fearless side could go’.

The hosts’ ‘One to watch’:

  • ‘In terms of a danger man, if he starts, I would 100% have to say Callum Styles. He is dangerous running up and down in the left wing back position and has even managed to contribute three goals of his own. I have never been as confident about a Barnsley player going to the Premier League than I have about Styles. I feel as though he will run your right back ragged, should he start’

Score prediction:

  • ‘I’m not expecting an easy game whatsoever. Tranmere will come to Oakwell with a game plan and it could be very hard to break them down and of course Keith Hill will be looking to get one over on his former side so we have that to consider too. I wouldn’t exactly put it past us to lose this type of game but I feel as though realistically we should have enough to win the cup tie. My prediction is a 2-0 win for Barnsley.’.

Random fact about the hosts:

  • ‘It’s difficult to think about a random fact considering we are a relatively small club. However, the first that springs to mind is that the cricket umpire Dickie Bird supports Barnsley. He is in hot water with the fans after saying on camera he wanted Sheffield United to beat us in 2017 (laughs)’.

Proudest moment as a supporter of Barnsley F.C:

  • ‘Erm, my proudest moment has to be last season I think. When lockdown hit , we were 7 points adrift of safety with 9 games left to play. Myself and so many other Tykes’ fans had just accepted that we would be relegated once football returned. However, the players didn’t accept this. We picked up 15 points from them in 9 games and we won the final two games with injury time winners. The club managed to somehow escape relegation and remain a Championship side. The players cared about it as much as the supporters did. Never have I ever been as proud of a set of lads.’.

An opposition fan’s view on the Whites:

  • ‘I don’t know too much about Tranmere but it seems that the Whites have been a bit inconsistent this season. The club currently sits in 13th which does seem to be a position of underachievement, I thought you might be up near the top seven at the very least. However, in fairness Rovers were very hard done by as I felt they could have survived relegation as the team hit a good patch of form before the campaign was stopped by the COVID outbreak and the league table was decided by PPG. I feel like if a good run of form is put together then it is a team that should be challenging for promotion. You should give us a run for our money on the weekend’.

I would like to thank @mattdogbfc for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This FA cup tie should be an interesting occasion between two clubs who have a good contrast of quality and form. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

All the very best for the new year,

Ethan Hoijord.

Colchester United F.C – ‘Meeting the opposition’

Colchester United F.C – ‘Meeting the opposition’

Tranmere’s first game of the new year will follow the Whites’ long journey to Colchester. The fixture will be a league two encounter and it will be played at the Us’ JobServe Community Stadium. It is a must win for Rovers, the hosts have failed to win any of their past five. Thus, I thought it would be essential to speak to a Colchester United fan to get their views on the club’s on and off the pitch matters; amongst other subjects. I placed questions towards @TheLatestColU to do so.

How long has @TheLatestColU been supporting the U’s?

  • ‘I’m only 19, so I’ve been going regularly for about ten years now. My first game was in 2007 when we were in the Championship but I remember pretty much nothing about it!’

Last season:

  • ‘Under former Tranmere striker John McGreal, we finished 6th which is a playoffs position. However, we lost 3-1 to Exeter in the second leg after the game went to extra time’

Thoughts on manager:

  • ‘It’s a difficult one, Steve Ball was our assistant for the last four years and became head coach in the summer. A lot of the on-pitch decisions (transfers, style of play etc) are influenced by the chairman and director of football so it can be difficult to judge managers at times. Right now it’s fair to say that he’s not pleasing fans too much as the quality of football isn’t as good as it was last season. However, he should be given the time to turn it round’.

Expectations for this campaign:

  • ‘The feeling of both the fanbase and the players/staff is that we should be able to challenge for the top seven and that we are very capable of becoming a league one club again. So far, we are 12th and two points off the playoffs but I’d say most of the fans aren’t that confident right now. We are on a poor run of form. Most of the points gained have been down to hard thought defensive performances and brilliant saves by our keeper. We need to be on top of more games’.

The hosts’ ‘One to watch’:

  • ‘Midfielder Noah Chilvers. The academy graduate had only made a handful of appearances before this season but has become a regular starter. He’s able to play in central midfield or in an attacking midfield role and has certainly shown his quality to play at a higher level .. for when we inevitably sell him!’

Score prediction:

  • I think it’ll be a tight game, think we will have a few key players out injured but we do have a decent home record. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tranmere had most of the possession and chances. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw’.

Random fact:

  • ‘The town has a rich Roman history, with a castle and an ancient wall in and around the town centre. Colchester is also the oldest recorded British town’.

Proudest moment as a supporter of Colchester United:

  • ‘It definitely has to be last season’s carabao cup run. Each game was so special: winning against Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur. Also, the trip to Manchester United was unforgettable. We were drawing at half time but unfortunately went on to lose. Looking back, I feel grateful that it happened whilst fans could attend’.

An opposition fan’s view on the Whites:

  • ‘I’m not an expert on other clubs, but I know you are a big club for this league and you should be in league one. Tranmere were very unfortunate to go down last season with the circumstances, so I hope you do well this year and get back to where you belong’.

I would like to thank @TheLatestColU for their time answering the questions that I placed towards them. This league encounter should be an interesting occasion between two clubs who are in need of a successful result as they aim to gather positive momentum. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

All the very best for the new year,

Ethan Hoijord.

Ronnie Moore – The interview.

Ronnie Moore – The interview.

Ronnie Moore was born in Liverpool in the year of 1953. It was 18 years later that Tranmere fans would become familiar with his name, becoming a professional player at Prenton Park as a Striker. He would go on to play for Rovers for 11 years, across two spells as the Whites would be his first and last club. In the midst of these spells he had played in the USA for Chicago Sting. John King would give the Liverpool-born forward his pathway into management and he would go on to become a successful football league head coach. This is his story, told in his words, with the aid of my questions …

What was it like coming back to Tranmere to manage the club in 2012?. 

It was brilliant coming back to Tranmere as a manager, I’ve had so many good times at the club in many different roles: player, coach, caretaker manager and manager. To be honest, we were so close to reaching the play-off final the last time i was at the club it was a joke i got the sack when we finished 7th.

You had spent twenty years at the club in various roles before taking over from Les Parry. If you were to name three of your favourite moments prior to your time back at the club in 2012, what would these be?

There are lots of favourite times, too many to mention really.

1) 1975|76 Scoring 37 goals also scoring 4 goals in the games against Brentford, Stockport, and Newport a nice 12 goals in 3 games.

2) 1990 Wembley win in play-off Final v Bolton,we had 4 Wembley appearances in just over a year Fantastic time to support the White Army.

3) Beating Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury in 1973 when Ron Yeats was manager

What was Palios like as a teammate? 

Mark Palios is a winner and a very disciplined mid-field player. He was a hardman who could also play a bit.

What was your aim as you came into the club? The first few months were exceptional.

Why did the team suffer such a reversal of form from December 2012? It seemed to begin with the Wallace injury but was there more going on?

My aim when I came into the club was to get us promoted as soon as I could. We started like a house on fire but too many injuries to key players and some of the better loan players being recalled to their parent clubs brought a huge halt to the team’s progression.

You were assistant manager under Johnny King in Tranmere’s most successful period. I bet this was a really interesting time as you moved from playing to coaching. What were your experiences like? What was Johnny King like as a man and what lessons did you learn from him?

Moving from player to coach was very hard but it was something I had always thought of doing and working with John King was special. He was a sincere man never afraid to kick you up the backside but also never afraid to praise you, a great leader of men never one to scream and shout at players. He also had the gift to attract quality players to the club. The next few years were fantastic for me and everyone connected with Tranmere Rovers we had so many highs and got so close to playing at the top level, the losses in the play-offs hurt us all so much it still hurts now when I think about the semi-final game against Aston Villa, a game we should have won.

What player did you find the most difficult/best player to manage?

I was very lucky with the players I had at the club. They were good honest players and I never had a difficult player to deal with. There were a lot of diamonds and winners, players like Andy Robinson, Ian Goodison,Ryan Lowe,Owain Fon Williams I could go on all day naming the players I loved and worked with.

What is your favourite game during your time at Tranmere?

My favourite game would be so hard so I’ve mentioned a few, Exeter when we had to win to stay in the football league we won 1-0. I also loved playing in the Mercantile Centenary Trophy at wembley in 1988,Chris Malkin’s winner at Wembley, the 4 games at Wembley .

What is the ground that you most loved going to as a player and a manager?

In the early years i loved playing at Chester City in fact one year i ended up playing in goal when Dick Johnson was injured and came off at half time. We were losing 1-0. I kept a clean sheet but we ended up losing 1-0. Oldham was another place I loved going to.

Did you enjoy winning more as a player or as a manager?

Both really only difference is scoring a goal you just can not beat that feeling.

Your most influential player whilst manager of Tranmere?

Ian Goodison was a great leader. Andy Robinson was one of the best players I have managed.

Were there any players that you let go, whilst you were manager, that you would’ve liked to keep?

Not really, I remember having to make a decision on a young lad turning pro. I decided not to sign him and let him go, he now plays for Wales (Will Vaulks).

Is it true that we were close to signing Jamie Vardy on loan in the 12/13 season?

No that is not true we could have done with him though.

What was it like to manage your son?, Ian Thomas-Moore. I thought he was a great forward.

Not easy you tend to pick on him more than you should do so the lads didn’t give him any stick. He did his talking on the pitch. I’m so proud of him, he’s a brilliant player.

Tranmere dismissed you of your duties after it became apparent that you put a small bet on. Tranmere were, at the time, in a relegation scrap and would eventually go down. What were your feelings towards your dismissal and do you believe that you would’ve been able to keep Tranmere safe?

I was out of work at the time we set up a family betting group in my name: me and my wife, her sister, and her Dad  we all put £5 each in every week and picked a team ,it’s called ‘£20 Accumulator’. The problem was when I got back into management I should have cancelled the betting app. I do believe if we had been in the top 6 I would have kept my job because we were struggling so it gave Peter Johnson the chance to sack me, I honestly believe we would not have gone down. I have never been relegated as a manager. It was my mistake so I gave him the chance to sack me .

How big of an achievement was it to keep Hartlepool United in the football league? This meant Tranmere would be relegated, did this achievement feel somewhat bittersweet?

I think it was one of my greatest achievements right up there with my back to back promotions. I was out of work and they showed a great passion to get me to come and save them, they were 10 points adrift in December and we ended up staying up with a game to spare. At the time yes it felt bittersweet but not for the club, just the one person running the club, the supporters were brilliant to me when I was there so it was a sad day for Tranmere.

You are currently out of a managerial role. However, you have done some television work since being manager of Tranmere. Do you wish to go back into the game in some managerial capacity or do you want to continue with your television appearances?

I’ve tried to get back into management but never get any replies back, at 67 people think you are a dinosaur. I am a level 5 coach. I have to attend coaching sessions to keep me up to date with the modern game. I am trying to get back in as a Chief Scout or doing some recruitment work but as one door closes another one hits you in the face. I’m doing a bit of radio work for radio sheffield on the Rotherham games as The Expert Summariser.

  • ‘I had a lot of great times. Too many to mention really’

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord 

Barrow A.F.C 3 Tranmere Rovers 4 – ‘Where are they now?’

‘Where are they now?’

Barrow 3 Tranmere 4

Saturday 9th January 2016

@Holker Street

National League (5th tier).

One of Tranmere’s most memorable games, between 2015 and 2018, was when the Whites travelled to Cumbria to face Barrow A.F.C. Gary Brabin was manager of the club at the time and a win was needed as Rovers searched for promotion. Many had made the journey to witness that league encounter, quite a few left with regrets. The Whites trailed 3-1 in the 90th minute and considering that the supporters had seen little to believe that a positive result was possible, quite a few left to catch the early train or to get on a warm supporters coach and wait for the engine to run. On the pitch, the Merseyside club’s engine began to run. Louis Maynard and Jeff Hughes brought the scoreline level by the 92nd minute. The search for another was sealed by a strike from academy product forward Jake Kirby. ‘Scenes’ …

So, who was involved for Tranmere in that fixture and what ‘bluebird’ faces would soon continue their careers in a positive manner at Prenton Park? This article aims to answer all.

Manager – 

Rovers’ manager at the time was of course, Gary Brabin. This league encounter took place halfway through Brabin’s first season. He would be given more time, even though he failed to guide the Whites to the play-offs in his first campaign. However, this time was cut short as in October 2016 he would be replaced by Micky Mellon. Mellon would guide the Merseyside outfit to back-to-back promotions, both times giving credit to Brabin who he claims ‘put the club into a comfortable position and signed the players to build around’ including James Norwood and Andy Cook. Brabin is now, I believe, assistant manager of Luton Town. 

GK – 

The only squad member to remain at the club is goalkeeper, Scott Davies. The miraculous comeback came in Davies’ first season at the club, after signing from Fleetwood Town. He has since been made Rovers’ captain and throughout his five seasons at the club he has been in net for two promotions and an unfair relegation in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Iain Turner was the keeper on the bench that cold January afternoon, the former Everton shot-stopper signed for the Whites in 2015 and would spend two years at the club before departing to join fellow non-league club Southport. I believe that the 36-year-old can still be found at ‘The Merseyrail community stadium’ as a goalkeeping coach.

DF – 

Six defenders were named in the squad that would travel to Cumbria. Full-backs Lee Vaughan, Matt Hill and Martin Riley. Centre-halfs Steve Mcnulty, Micheal Ihiekwe and Ritchie Sutton. All of these players were relatively successful at Tranmere, no one was more successful at the club than Steve Mcnulty. The liverpool-born veteran defender was signed on loan in 2015, being named captain for Tranmere’s promotion season to the football league in 2017/2018 after signing a permanent deal. He spent another year at the club, Micky Mellon being manager and although the 37-year-old would struggle with injuries and a lack of match fitness, a pivotal part for the club’s promotion to league one was played by him. McNulty can now be seen at Witton Albion.

Lee Vaughan – 32 years old – Currently at AFC Telford.

Matt Hill – 39 years old – Currently at Stafford Rangers.

Martin Riley – 34 years old – Currently at Stourbridge.

Michael Ihiekwe – 28 years old – Currently at Rotherham United. 

Ritchie Sutton – 34 years old – Currently at Altrincham.

MDF – 

A wide range of experience and quality was found in the Tranmere team that could be found at Holker Street that day. Lois Maynard, Jeff Hughes, Adam Mekki, Jake Kirby, Steve Jennings, Jay Harris. I believe that the two most successful Rovers players in this period were Jeff Hughes and Jay Harris. The Northern Irish midfielder Hughes joined the club in 2016 and would return home to Larne F.C, after sealing promotion at Wembley in the summer of 2018. Strong tackler Harris joined Rovers a season prior to Hughes, he would leave a year later as well. Harris played a pivotal role in the Whites’ promotion to the football league, he would find himself away from the team more often than not in the season that the club would get promotion to the third tier. The 33-year-old now plays his football at Wrexham, the club that he would leave when he signed for Tranmere.

Lois Maynard – 31 years old – Currently at Stockport County.

Adam Mekki – 28 years old – Currently at Ebbsfleet United.

Jake Kirby – The Rovers academy product is now 26 years old – He announced an early retirement due to his bad experiences with many lengthy injuries, breaking his leg in an FA Trophy game at home to Barrow in 2017. His most recent club was Stockport County.

Steve Jennings – The Rovers academy product is now 36 years old – Across the course of his footballing career he appeared for the Merseyside outfit around 250 times, three different spells at the Whites – His most recent club was Warrington Town, he did feature for Barrow in the 2018/19 season. Jennings is now retired.

ST – 

Cole Stockton and Ben Tomlinson were the Tranmere forwards that day. Looking back, the team lacked quality up top.

26-year-old Stockton is a Tranmere academy product, signing a professional deal in 2011. He spent six professional years at the Whites, making 97 appearances and scoring 14 goals. However, across these years he had two loan spells at Morecambe which is the club he currently plays for. Mellon would re-sign the club’s academy product in 2018 when there was an evident need for a striker, in the aim of finding the form of when he had linked up brilliantly with Norwood in the later stages of the 16/17 season. However, this form couldn’t be found. One goal in sixteen appearances, according to Wikipedia.

Ben Tomlinson – The 31 year old forward currently plays for Alfreton Town, this season he is on loan at Frickley Athletic. During his time with the Whites he made ten appearances and failed to score, he would spend one year in Merseyside. The year was the 2015/16 season, Brabin’s first as Tranmere manager.

Barrow:

Andy Cook.

Former Tranmere promotion winner Andy Cook has featured for both clubs.The Bishop Auckland born forward signed on a permanent basis for Barrow in 2011, following two loan spells. He would spend a season at the club, scoring just under 20 goals before signing for Grimsby Town. He would re-sign for the ‘Bluebirds’ in 2014 and would have an amazing two campaigns, scoring 47 in 87 appearances according to Wikipedia. This would please the Tranmere manager at the time, Gary Brabin, who signed the forward to partner James Norwood up top. This is easily the best strike partnership I have seen. He scored 49 times in 85 encounters and would fire Rovers up to the football league. Great times for the Merseyside club. He would resign for the Whites in the winter of 2020, he didn’t play much as James Vaughan excelled and earnt his place in the team alongside Morgan Ferrier.

Thank you very much for reading,

All the very best for the new year, 

Ethan Hoijord.

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Barrow AFC

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Barrow A.F.C

This upcoming Tuesday night, Tranmere Rovers will travel up north to face Barrow A.F.C in a fourth division fixture at Holker Street in what should be a very entertaining game. With that in mind I placed questions towards a supporter of the hosts, Taylor Nelson. I thought it would be interesting to see the thoughts of a fan who’s club will soon face Rovers, to get his opinions of Tranmere as well as his thoughts on the position of the Cumbrian club at the moment, on and off the pitch; amongst other subjects.

How long has Taylor been supporting Barrow?

  • I’ve supported the club since I was six years old, attending my first game in 2007 against Hucknall Town in the Blue Square Conference North.

Last season:

  • Last season, we were promoted as champions, finishing in first place prior to the season being cut-short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thoughts on new manager, Micheal Jolley:

  • Tough one to answer given this will be his first game in charge! He seems to be a well-spoken individual with plenty of knowledge. His experience at Grimsby will hopefully prove to be of great use.

Expectations for this campaign:

  • Following promotion, I think the supporters just wanted to use the momentum from last season to propel us up the table and see where we ended up. Lower mid-table would suffice. Unfortunately we didn’t enjoy the start we would have hoped and have fallen short in many games. Fine margins have been the difference and we now need to ensure we end up on the right side of results to ensure we can enjoy another season in the Football League. We have waited a long time for this return and many supporters haven’t been able to experience a Football League game just yet. It would be a shame to immediately drop back down but I’m hopeful we’ll steer clear of the bottom two.

The hosts’ ‘One to watch’:

  • Scott Quigley would be the first name to spring to mind. The National League’s leading goalscorer last season, Quigley has begun to find his confidence and feet in the EFL as of late and will be a handful for the Tranmere defence throughout.

Score prediction:

  • 1:1.

Random fact:

  • Barrow are the first club to win the FA Trophy at both the old and new Wembley having won the Trophy in 1990 and 2010 against Leek Town and Stevenage, respectively.

Proudest moment as a supporter of the Bluebirds:

  • I think last season as a whole would have to be up there. The feeling of immense pride just seemed to grow as the season went on and the unlikely slowly began to look more and more likely. It was a surreal season and although we didn’t get to celebrate as we would have liked, the day the news broke that we would be promoted will always have a special place in my heart.

An opposition fan’s view on the Whites:

  • We’ve enjoyed some entertaining games against Tranmere in the past, I’m sure one game in particular will spring to mind for most Tranmere supporters. Initially, it was clear they made the wrong appointment with Jackson, perhaps looking to the cheaper option rather than the best available. Under Keith Hill and prior to his appointment following the sacking of Jackson, Tranmere looked a much more stable and improved side. It’s bound to be a tricky night for us.

I would like to thank Taylor for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This league encounter should be an interesting occasion between two clubs who are in need of a successful result as they aim to gather positive momentum. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading, 

All the very best for the new year,

Ethan Hoijord.

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Bradford City F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ Bradford City

On Boxing Day, Tranmere Rovers will play host to Bradford City in a fourth division fixture at Prenton Park in what should be a very entertaining game. With that in mind, I placed questions towards the visitors ‘https://thefootballfansview.com/’ correspondent ‘@_Matthew_Ward’. I thought it would be interesting to see the thoughts of a fan who’s club will soon face Rovers, to get his opinions of Tranmere as well as his thoughts on the position of the West Yorkshire club at the moment, on and off the pitch; amongst other subjects.

How long have you been a supporter of Bradford City?

I have been a Bradford fan for pretty much all of my life, 18 years.

Where did the ‘Bantams’ finish last season?

9th in League Two, a season that was curtailed early due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What are your thoughts on your current manager?

At the moment the club doesn’t have a permanent manager after sacking Scotsman Stuart MCall little over a week ago. However, Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars have done well as interim managers as they are getting results. Two games in, four points taken, a draw away at Crawley Town and a victory at Valley Parade against Cambridge United.  

What were your expectations for this season? What are your thoughts on the start your side has made to this campaign?

My initial expectations were promotion, the last campaign was promising. The start we have made was certainly not expected by any City fan. To be four points off the relegation zone for a club who’s staff and management team expected to be in the promotion picture isn’t good enough.

Which one player is your danger man? Why?

Defender Connor Wood’s quality has stood out. He is a good defender but he also has that confidence to go forwards and be dangerous across the pitch.

What is your score prediction for the boxing day fixture at Prenton Park?

I’ll go 1-0 City. Our last two performances have shown that we have the quality but it certainly won’t be easy.

Random fact about Bradford? (Famous fans, something about the area etc)

Former One Direction artist Zayn Malik is a supporter of the ‘Bantams’.

Do you support/like any other clubs other than Bradford City? Why?

Aston Villa. My dad supports them thus there is some association.

Proudest moment as a Bradford supporter?

Featuring at Wembley twice in the 2012/13 season was exceptional. We reached the final of the league cup, eventually losing to Swansea City. We also reached the league two play off final  defeating Northampton Town to reach the third tier of the English footballing pyramid.

What is your opinion of the boxing day hosts?

I don’t mind Tranmere. I think you’re probably unfairly overlooked due to your location, situated right next to Premier League giants Liverpool and Everton. However, you have a good fan base and I’m a big fan of the ‘super white army’ chant.

I would like to thank Matthew Ward for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This league encounter should be an interesting occasion between two clubs who have promotion expectations, despite poor starts to the campaign and I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

  • Prenton Park, the home for this exciting league two tie.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

How David Moyes is transforming West Ham United from Premier league minnows to European football contenders despite facing major COVID-19 issues.

The Hammers struggled last season, they sacked a manager and they flirted with relegation at many stages throughout the campaign. In my honest opinion, I thought that they would go down. However, a Scotsman who the club had appointed before managed to do what I believed was the ‘unthinkable’ and in doing so completely transformed the mood around the ‘camp’.

PELLEGRINI’S REIGN:

It was Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City title winner that took the east London club into the start of the last campaign. He was evidently out of his depth, it was his second year in the hot-seat at the London Stadium and there had been many problems faced in his first campaign. The defence was a major worry, in the 18/19 league season they shipped an average of 1.4 goals per game and their poor defensive structure was a subject discussed on ‘Match Of The Day’ most weekends. They weren’t too bad in front of goal though, wingers Marko Arnoutovic and Filipe Anderson both scored more than ten and the form of strikers Michail Antonio and Javier Hernandez wasn’t too bad either. This came a season after Moyes was appointed and sacked, Pellegrini seemed to be a name of higher quality given his successful track record. Little did the board know that Glasweigan David Moyes would soon return.

In the summer of 2019, in the aim of improving on their mid-table league position of 10th they brought in: Frenchman Sebastien Haller and another central attacker in Pablo Fornals. The main problem, the defence, was also addressed ever so slightly with the signing of the Portugese centre-half Goncalo Cordoso. However, it is fair to say that Cordoso’s time at the club hasn’t gone as well as expected. It wasn’t entirely his fault for the manner his side would start the season off in though …

THE RE-APPOINTMENT OF DAVID MOYES:

It would take the London Stadium club nineteen Premier league encounters before sacking the Chilean manager Pellegrini. It had been a disastrous start and whoever was going to be brought in would have a huge job on their hands. Ten defeats in the opening nineteen games saw the Hammers positioned seventeenth and the confidence of squad members had really taken a blow. 

Surprisingly, the club would appoint Moyes on the 29th December, a day after a home defeat to Leicester City. This was evidently not an appointment that caused a sense of optimism amongst the East London faithful, they had become familiar to the Glaswegian as he was of course the manager in the hot-seat prior to the Chilean. Moyes had enough experience to know that a strong winter transfer window and a few positive performances could potentially turn the minds of the fans. This was certainly aided by a 4-0 home victory against Bournemouth in Moyes’ home return. It was now time to start recruiting and keep up the happiness created by a very attacking free-flowing game of football. 

WINTER TRANSFER WINDOW: 

Experienced Irish goalkeeper Darren Randolph and young promising forward Jarrod Bowen signed permanent deals. Randolph was brought in on an undisclosed fee and Bowen cost £22million, money well spent if you think of the impact he has had for his team so far. To aid a leaking defensive issue, Declan Rice had found himself a partner. Tomas Soucek, a Czech Republican international from Slavia Prague, signed on loan until the end of the season. Again, this was another successful piece of recruitment made by the former Manchester United manager in his first transfer window of his second spell. The signing of Soucek could also help the aging Mark Noble relax a little bit as his age was certainly impacting his performances, they were becoming underpar.

The win against Bournemouth was the only league win in the new manager’s first eight encounters, an exit from the FA Cup also came with a defeat to West Brom. Thus, there was plenty still left to improve and the job’s difficulty was improving.

THE COVID STOPPAGE AND A VERY SUCCESSFUL RETURN:

Two games later, the COVID-19 outbreak brought a stoppage of play. A stoppage for a mammoth three and a half months. In these two games, the Hammers would beat Southampton 3-1 at the London Stadium and this was a very important victory.

Clubs returned to footballing action, behind closed doors, in late June. Games against Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United had to be played. Moyes’ intelligence and ability to spark life into a somewhat beaten squad had to be shown, show it he did. Three wins and three draws in nine games would see the Hammers keep their spot in the top tier of English football. Wins including an amazing 3-2 win against Chelsea and 4-0 away to the relegated Norwich City, the campaign ended on a great high.

A SUCCESSFUL SUMMER WINDOW OF 2020:

25-year-old Tomas Soucek had certainly shown his qualities across the course of his loan spell, it was important for the Hammers to extend his time at the club. They did, it cost £15million to secure his signature. However, in today’s era that can be seen as a relative ‘steal’. Another Slavia Prague man was snapped up, wing-back Vladimir Coufal strengthened the right-back rankings as it was obvious that Moyes wanted to improve on what he had already in the relatively experienced Ryan Fredericks. 

West Ham also delved into the loan market: centre half Craig Dawson was signed from Watford and the Hammers again looked at promising Championship wingers as Said Benrahma was brought in from Brentford.

Little under twenty squad players departed the East London gates, none would cause a greater sense of unrest than the selling of Grady Diangana. The young winger was sold to West Brom, the club being promoted to the Premier league in the same summer. He had been on loan at the Baggies the season prior to this departure however it now seemed like the perfect time to include his qualities in an improving West Ham side. Fans were very disappointed at the leadership at the club and some players took to social media to show their displeasure. This wasn’t a positive piece of transfer business in a relatively successful summer transfer window.

A POSITIVE START:

The Hammers have had a very positive start to the 2020/21 campaign. After thirteen games, they are in a Europa league spot and fans are very optimistic for success with what they have witnessed. In their last ten league games, they have won six and drawn three. An amazing comeback away to Tottenham, 3-3. A fantastic away win at Leicester City, finishing 3-0 and a showing that they can ‘grind’ three points out of their performances. It has been a start to remember and there is plenty left to build on as another transfer window draws closer.

The squad’s ability to score was also shown in the EFL Cup although they were knocked out of the competition in the fourth round at Goodison Park. In their opening two rounds, they put three past Charlton Athletic and five past Hull City. 

So far this season, I have been impressed with many players out of the Stratford based squad. Former Tranmere Rovers full back Aaron Creswell has shown his qualities, his crossing has been immense and has aided the top scorer Seb Haller’s positive start as he has netted seven in fifteen.

FUTURE:

The January transfer window of 2021 is drawing nearer and there are a few positions that I’d like to see the Hammers progress in. I believe that this season, with what had been put on show so far, David Moyes should guide his team to a Europa League qualification spot. From there, they should aim to solidify their European spot and aim to progress into the Champions league … this is of course a long shot away from where they are at the moment.

Goalkeepers – West Ham’s goalkeeper options are unfortunately ‘old’. Lukasz Fabianski, Darren Randolph and David Martin are all nearing their playing retirements and although Fabianski is still good there is a need for long term improvement. The Hammers should sign a young keeper that is getting closer to their peak. 

Centre back – There are a few good centre halves at the club: Diop, Ogbonna, Creswell etc However, it is in the back-up options that a slight worry is placed. Winston Reid remains at the club, although he is on loan and Craig Dawson is another name that doesn’t touch the surfaces of Diop and Ogbonna. The Hammers should look to sign a top centre half so there isn’t too much of a need to worry about the back-ups.

Attacking midfielder – West Ham’s midfield ranks is a position of great strength. Academy product Declan Rice is earning great reviews, without an element of surprise. However, the club should aim to strengthen their attacking midfield spaces. Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini are good players. However, there is a need to improve on their qualities and a new face could potentially do this.

Winger – Said Benrahma has shown his qualities this season and should thus aim to extend his long term future at the club. On top of that, there may be a slight need to improve the back-up options. Filipe Anderson hasn’t done too well at the Hammers and could well be on his way out of the club, Andriy Yarmalenko is another that is struggling at the time of writing. It would’ve been great for the club to keep Grady Diangana yet this means that there is a slight need of recruiting another winger to increase the quality in this position of play. 

(NS)

Coufal (NS) Diop Creswell Masuaku 

Soucek Rice

Bowen Haller (NS)

  • West Ham boss David Moyes.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord