Tranmere Rovers v Doncaster Rovers: 'It has to be about staying in the division' - the opposition view
Tranmere Rovers’ incredible rise and rebirth has taken them from the National League to League One in quick time.
But how are they faring with life back in the third tier? We spoke to the Liverpool Echo’s Tranmere writer Tom Cavilla to get the lowdown.
Q: How do you assess Tranmere's start to the season?
TM: “It’s been a bit mixed so far and they’ve picked up one point per game.
“They haven’t really been helped by the amount of injuries they’ve had this season and they’ve got about 11 players out at the moment.
“They just seem to have no luck with that – players have come back and then someone else has got injured. The marquee signing in the summer Morgan Ferrier hasn’t played since August.
“They’ve done okay overall.
“The Coventry win was quite an impressive result for them but it’s just about putting performances together over 90 minutes which they haven’t been able to do so far.
“They’ve had a bit of a habit of falling behind in games but have shown really good qualities of fighting back.
“If they continue that I think they’ll be okay.”
Q: What were the expectations following promotion?
TM: “I think it was all about staying up after winning back-to-back promotions.
“It was quite unlikely that they were going to go on and challenge for promotion again – though everyone thought that after they came up out of the National League.
“If people are being realistic, I think it has to be about staying in the division.”
Q: James Norwood was a big departure in the summer. How has his absence been offset and what impact has his move had?
TM: “Losing Norwood was a big loss – he got 32 goals last season. He won so many points and it was always going to be difficult to replace him.
“They seemed to go for quantity over quality so they brought in four strikers, but no big names.
“Goals have not flowed as much as when they had Norwood in the team.
“Once they get Ferrier back, it’ll be interesting to see what he can do because he was the main guy to replace Norwood.”
Q: How is Micky Mellon viewed?
TM: “Pretty much the whole of the fanbase are behind him.
“A lot of the fans have said he’s probably the best manager since Johnny King who was the most successful manager they’ve had in the modern era.
“A big thing for a lot of fans is that he understands the club having played for Tranmere.
“He’s a really popular figure and a lot of fans were pleased to see him sign a new contract earlier in the year with other clubs showing interest.”
Q: What system and style of play does Mellon favour?
TM: “There hasn’t really been a set system. With the injury situation he’s changed it around quite a lot so there hasn’t been any go-to formations.
“He’s used 3-5-2, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 so you’re never quite sure how he’s going to set up.
“It’s unpredictable and I think he tries to do that, leaving opponents guessing about how he is going to set up.
“In terms of the football it’s forward thinking, good counterattacking. Against the better teams he will look for the opposition to take the game to Tranmere.”
Q: Who are the danger men?
TM: “Stefan Payne was one of the strikers to come in this summer and he looks a real poacher of a striker with three of his four goals coming from very close range.
“He looks good to score from that sort of area. Corey Blackett-Taylor signed from Aston Villa in the summer.
“He hasn’t played in every game but when he has played he looks dangerous, quite quick either out wide or up front. He’ll keep trying to make things happen.
“Kieran Morris has been in the right place at the right time on so many occasions this season.
“Ollie Banks would have probably been the main man to mention but he’s just got injured as well.”