- Tranmere v Stockport, League One, October 12, 2009
More interest than usual will be paid to Tranmere’s League One meeting with Stockport on Monday night after the Merseysiders ended the disastrous tenure of John Barnes and sidekick Jason McAteer on Friday following a horrendous run of results.
Barnes and McAteer arrived amid much fanfare at Prenton Park in the summer, but their reign in charge has proved an almost total calamity. Winning just twice, Tranmere have lost eight of 11 league games including a 5-nil hammer at Millwall last time out. And the final straw for the former Liverpool duo saw Rovers dumped out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Bury despite Tranmere leading the match 1-nil at halftime.
Nobody connected to Tranmere will emerge from Barnes’ dismissal in any great light.
The deepest wound will likely be felt by Barnes himself. After his reputation-crushing ordeal at Celtic almost a decade ago Barnes was frozen out of football management, only to return as the Jamaica coach in recent years. Throughout this period Barnes was vocal in his belief that racial prejudice was a factor in his nine-year wait for a managerial role in Britain, only for Tranmere to offer the former England international to be handed a fresh opportunity to redefine himself. Sadly, Barnes may now find himself shunned by football for another extensive period after another disappointing tenure.
His departure also reflects badly on chairman Peter Johnson, who sacked the popular Ronnie Moore as manager last season despite Tranmere just missing out on the play-offs. The chairman cited falling attendances as the reason for Moore’s exit but is now confronted by the threat of relegation to League Two.
In their stead, club physio Les Parry has been put in temporary charge. A former defender with more than 250 games for Rovers, his only club, he and the reserve team manager Shaun Garnett will prepare the squad for the visit of Stockport County.
Onto the pre-match team news.
Tranmere defender Marlon Broomes could return at the expense of Ash Taylor after serving a one-match ban. Further upfield, 33-year-old forward Ian Thomas-Moore (11/2 to score first) will look to add to his three goals tally already this season, while former Manchester City upstart Chris Shuker (12/1 to score a brace) will aim to solidify the centre of the park alongside experienced Irish midfielder Alan Mahon (7/1 to score) and lower-league stalwart Paul McLaren (6/1 to score).
For the visitors, who only have a three point lead over Tranmere in the League One table, boss Gary Ablett also has to contend with a series of headaches after after County were dumped out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 3-1 defeat at Port Vale on Tuesday. Stockport have defender Paul Huntington available after extending his loan from Leeds for a further 28 days, but Ablett will also have to juggle his troops as he’ll again be without striker Oli Johnson (ankle) and midfielder Matty Mainwaring (leg).
While Ablett’s charges are far from being high-flyers this season, it must be pointed out that the former Evertonian is being asked to do an almost impossible job. With limitations on signings, youngsters playing before they are properly ready, and no certainty as to who is in charge of the club, Ablett is arguably keeping Stockport’s head just above water in a way which John Barnes failed to do at Tranmere.
101predicts: Tranmere 1 – Stockport 2 (9/1)
Full match odds here.