16 September ~ Give many Tranmere fans reason for optimism and they will react with gloomy caution rather than risk being happy that the glass is half full. This time around, having started the season with two straight wins for the first time in 22 years, and losing only once in our opening five games, we should have been letting ourselves enjoy the view from the top half of the table for a change. Instead, much of the Prenton Park faithful is worried that we were simply getting all our good results in early.
Our most recent league games have encompassed our annual loss to Huddersfield and Tuesday's depressingly familiar home defeat to Carlisle. Although mid-September is rather early to talk of turning-points, this weekend's visit by Wycombe is looming large as a signpost for our season. Fail to win and the prevailing bleakness of the last two years will get its foot firmly back in the door.
On the face of it, however, our overhauled squad is showing real potential, none more so than midfield bulldog Andy Robinson. Shrugging off last season's indecisiveness, he has been seizing games by the scruff of the neck, typified by our August visit to Brentford, where he orchestrated as convincing an away win as we have seen in years. Sadly, with "Robbo" joining the equally influential Mark McChrystal and Martin Devaney on the treatment table, the team sheet is looking distinctly threadbare before the clocks have even gone back.
New keeper Owain Fon Williams is already performing wonders in goal, but at the sharp end of the pitch we seem decidedly blunt. Last season's Player of the Year Enoch Showunmi still seems affected by a summer injury, while new boy Mustafa Tiryaki, hauled up three levels from non-League, is looking out of his depth.
As ever, a vocal element of the support lay the blame for any footballing malaise (and many of the world's other ills besides) firmly at the feet of manager Les "Physio" Parry. Parry's detractors can always lean on the tired old saw that he has never played a professional game in his life. Those of us who back him continue to trust in the fact that as he has been present at every Rovers team-talk since before many of the current players were born, some of the knowledge must surely have sunk in.
For all the message-board bluster, the ongoing pro- and anti-Parry argument is a bit of a red herring. It is the players themselves who made a good start, and Saturday is the time for them to reclaim their early confidence. Wycombe, who have made a slower start, will see this as a perfect time to face wobbly opponents. Our job is to prove them wrong and top our own glass back up into the bargain. Tristan Browning