Ahead of the first of consecutive editions of Tranmere v Wycombe, Stuart Feltham (@stupot42) gives us an insight into the Super White Army’s return to League One and what we might see this weekend and next.
It’s not been the smoothest of returns to League One, but you seem to be doing enough and are getting some decent results. How have you found it so far and are you confident of achieving your aim of survival? It’s not been the best of starts, but we have ground out some decent results. The difference in the pace of the games in League One was evident straight away, and there were a few of the squad who took a few games to get used to it. Our biggest issue, however, has been injuries. The squad has been decimated. We had players who didn’t even make the first games of the season, and we’ve lost several of our big hitters since. I think we’ll be ok once we get some of them back, and [manager] Micky Mellon knows where he needs to strengthen.
This pause in league action can work either way. Do you see it as a good or a bad thing? Is there the usual appetite of us lower league fans for a cup run? Personally, coming off the back of a win, I’d rather be taking that confidence and form into a league game, but I’m not sure it makes a great deal of difference in the long run. With this season being about survival, it could be a nice distraction to put a cup run together. All that said, I don’t think there’s a fan among us who wouldn’t trade a cup run for League One football next season.
How would you describe your style of play? At Tranmere, we like to see good football and attacking play. That’s been the philosophy of the club for as long as I can remember, and over the last few years we’ve seen it coming back to the field. Micky understands the club and the fans. However, at present we don’t have the quality to outplay teams consistently. We’re grinding out results with a “never say die” attitude and a togetherness between the players. I’d expect to see us do whatever it takes to get a result and some of that probably won’t be pretty.
Who have been your standout players so far this season and why? I’d like to single out [striker] Stefan Payne, who wasn’t first choice at the beginning of the season, but who has taken his chance when it came. He covers every blade of grass, tracks back and can find the net. He’s not to everyone’s taste, but he’s been doing ok. [Midfielder] Ollie Banks has scored some cracking goals this season and has the ability to run the game as long as he doesn’t lose his head. Unfortunately they’re both injured. Manny Monthe is solid at the back and deserves a mention. [On-loan Aston Villa forward] Rushian Hepburn-Murphy scored a hat-trick at MK Dons last week and has a lot of skill, pace and potential. He’s not had a consistent run in the team and can be a bit hot headed, but he’s quite a talent.
How do you see these games going? Feel free to make predictions! I have no idea how these games are going to go. The one prediction I will make is that I expect to see a very different starting XI in the Cup and league games. Given the state we’re in with injuries, I don’t believe Mickey will risk some of our first team in the Cup, but he has said in the past that he goes into every game to win. With Wycombe flying at the moment, I’d expect to see us pack the midfield, try to frustrate and score on the counter. Cup game could go either way. In the league, we need to stop leaking goals, so I’d like to see us trying to keep a clean sheet and nick a 1-0 win or hold on to a goalless draw. Unfortunately, we’re more likely to see a 2-2 or 3-3.