After a first away victory of the season at their fifth attempt, have Tranmere Rovers turned a corner in their quest for promotion back to League One?
Boss Micky Mellon heaped praise on his side for their performance last Saturday following an impressive victory at Salford City, describing what he saw from his players as a ‘real team performance.’
Josh Hawkes’ first-half strike earned Tranmere a surprise 1-0 victory at the home of the League Two high-flyers, who dominated possession but couldn’t muster a single shot on target in Neil Wood’s first home defeat as Ammies manager.
“We know that we’ve let you down before, but we’re on a project here,” was the message that Mellon conveyed to supporters via his post match press conference.
“I keep saying that to everybody; we’re on a project and I won’t lose my focus on that.”
And Tranmere fans – including Paul from This is Tranmere Podcast – will be hoping that their win last weekend can act as a springboard as the club look to improve on what has been a stuttering start to the season so far.
“The victory at Salford was a really big win,” Paul tells FansBet.
“It’s a monkey off the back in terms of our away form, which has been shocking in the last couple of years.
“But after a couple of poor results, a win was much needed and hopefully will spark us back into life and we can rise up the table.”
After a disappointing end to the 2021/22 campaign, much was expected of Micky Mellon’s side this season.
Last January, Rovers occupied the automatic promotion places, losing only one of 14 league games from mid-November to February.
By March, they had moved four points clear of fourth-placed Sutton United – cutting Forest Green Rovers’ lead at the top to eight points in the process.
But a catastrophic run of form saw their promotion charge run out of steam and they eventually finished 9th in the table having once looked like certainties for a play-off berth at the very least.
Yet despite being desperate to make amends for that disappointment, the win at Salford last weekend was only their third League Two victory so far this season as they try to keep in touch with the promotion contenders.
“The start to the season has not been great,” explains Paul.
“I wasn’t expecting us to be flying as it’s a new and young squad, but I’ve been disappointed with some of the performances.
“There’s a lot of talented players in the squad but they’ve not found the consistency needed yet.
“Hopefully we can find it as the season goes on.”
Following the victory at Salford last weekend, Rovers boss Micky Mellon called on his players to build on the result and show more consistency going forward, something he believes his young squad are more than capable of.
The summer transfer window saw the arrival of a number of fresh faces with the additions of Rhys Hughes (20), Ryan Stratulis (19) and Jack Williams (19) bringing the average age down to 24.
Tranmere’s recruitment strategy means that they now boast one of the youngest squads in League Two – suggesting the manager is building for the future.
Mellon returned to Tranmere Rovers in May 2021, less than 12 months after leaving the club to take charge of Dundee United, who he guided to a ninth-place finish in their first season back in the Scottish Premiership.
The 50-year-old led Tranmere to successive promotions from the National League and League Two in 2018 and 2019, before ending his four-year stint at Prenton Park to head north of the border.
But following his return, many supporters had hoped that his re-appointment would end what has been a turbulent period at the Birkenhead club.
A period which culminated in the club being controversially demoted to League Two in 2020 on a Points Per Game basis after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the campaign.
So does he still enjoy the backing of the Prenton Park faithful or is time ticking on his second spell in charge of the club, despite Mellon’s apparent long-term ambitions for Tranmere?
“There’s been a fair bit of dissent against the manager on social media,” says Paul.
“Some of the performances haven’t been good enough but I still think he’s the right man for the job.
“We don’t have a big squad so we’re relying on key players staying fit and available, but I back Micky 100 per cent.
“After last season, promotion has to be the target, we want to get back up into League One. Whether we can do it this season remains to be seen.
“I think we may need a bit of strengthening in January to give us a good chance, just to bolster the numbers in the squad more than anything.”
Leave a comment
Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter