Business in good hands but results poor
4 October ~ Talk of a new dawn often signifies some hope for the future. Eleven games in to the season, the dawn of the Mark Palios era at Tranmere Rovers is still looking distinctly murky. Despite laudable announcements from the boardroom, six defeats in those opening games have left the club floundering in our lowest league position since the bleak days of the mid 1980s; a hangover, it seems, from 2013-14's woeful climax which was capped with only our second relegation in 35 years.
Last season's dismal blundering was played out to the background noise of ownership speculation. A supporters' trust takeover was mooted, while several other fanciful notions surfaced. Yet rather than a local property developer coming back to his roots or a foreign speculator jumping on our rickety bandwagon, many of us were quietly astounded in August to find our new owner was that rarest of figures – a football man made good.
Palios played nearly 300 games for us in two spells in the 1970s and 1980s. Bluntly, he knows fourth division football and he is one of our own. More relevant still in our straitened circumstances, as a chartered accountant and former head of the FA, he is also a money man. For Rovers, facing League Two on a shoestring, he seems the ideal candidate to take over from outgoing benefactor Peter Johnson.
Former chairman Johnson's long tenure was one of hands-off, behind-the-scenes pragmatism rather than publicity-seeking interference. However, early signs from Palios suggest much more day-to-day involvement at all levels, especially given his own playing background. Carrying his vision onto the pitch is rookie boss Rob Edwards, in his first managerial role.
Unlike the new owner, Edwards has no local connections and this fresh outlook, backed by a UEFA Pro Licence qualification, only added to the feeling that the new start we need was well and truly on the way. Frustratingly, though, a continued lack of goals has seen us stuttering through the opening exchanges. Edwards is already feeling the grumbling discontent of the more impatient vocal minority, and his cause won't be helped if we are beaten by high-flying Bury today.
While the business is certainly in good hands under Palios, he also seems keen to exert some influence on the pitch. The players have been given personal coaching development plans amid much talk of maximising potential and striving for improvement. The sceptics are already pointing out that if we are 88th in the League, there is plenty of striving to be done. On the whole, confidence in Palios seems strong, but we need to start winning. So however he chooses to use his guiding hand, Palios needs to start leading the club in the right direction sooner rather than later. Tristan Browning