Tranmere V Boreham Wood Preview – Something Must Change, And Soon

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Liam Ridehalgh grabs a fistful of Eastleigh shirt last Saturday. Photo: Tony Smith (@tonys_pics)
Liam Ridehalgh grabs a fistful of Eastleigh shirt last Saturday. Photo: Tony Smith (@tonys_pics)

As dismayed Tranmere fans trudged out of Eastleigh’s Ten Acres ground and started on a 240 mile journey back up north from Hampshire, more than a few took to social media to call for the removal of manager Micky Mellon. But they had been pre-empted by Vice Chair Nicola Palios, who had a tweet ready for the final whistle: “Disappointing start to the campaign but it’s a long season. Keep the faith. It will come.”

Disappointing barely covers it. Putting aside a superb performance versus Woking, Rovers haven’t troubled scoreboard operators at all. The team had at least kept it pretty tight at the back until now, but even this department failed against the Spitfires, conceding two sloppy goals. The whites are already seven points off the pace at the top, and results have some looking over their shoulders at the relegation places.

In his post-match interview, Mellon seemed well aware of the pressure building up behind him. Whereas previously in this run he’d struck a defiant tone, this time it was very different:

“Over the course of ninety minutes, when the game changes, you’ve got to adapt. We – for some reason – didn’t. I have to take responsibility for that because I’m the manager. So I take complete responsibility for the result and the performance.”

Mellon went on to suggest that dramatic improvements needed to be made in key areas for the forthcoming matches. In addition to needing to adapt better to changes in the game, he admitted that they need to get better at taking chances, as well as better at training to score goals. Finally, he even confessed that he needed to improve his communication skills during half times.

A new Twitter account, @trfcpolls, has asked the Super White Army for their assessment of the early season crisis. While most (61%) blame the players rather than the manager for the poor start, 0% would like to see Mellon’s currently favoured 4-2-3-1 at Prenton Park this Saturday, with a majority (57%) preferring a 3-5-2. Many would like to see wide men return before long term physio’s companion Ben Tollitt is available for selection, a date which is still an estimated six weeks away. 47% would like to see Adam Dawson starting games in the meantime.

At home to Boreham Wood is a game that Tranmere Rovers ‘should’ be looking to win. Yet on recent form, a draw might even be a good result. The Wood currently sit in fourth, with three victories and one tie in their first five. Last week, they defeated pacesetters Aldershot, and boss Luke Garrard believes his line-up is approaching peak form:

“It was some of the best football we have played. We caused them an awful lot of problems and on another day we could have three or four before half time. In the first half one to eleven they were second best, Aldershot changed things at half time and the grew into the game but we were professional and it’s a great three points for us. I felt that our experience, understanding and game management really helped the end result when we had to roll up our sleeves.”

Despite this, if Mellon is able to make those necessary changes, there is a promising sequence of fixtures over the next few weeks, and his team could take full advantage before they start playing clubs who should be rivals. If he can’t make alterations, perhaps someone else soon will.