Pressure on Gary Brabin to ensure quick return to League Two
4 September ~ After just seven matches, Gary Brabin is already having to tough it out. In the National League it seems that, at Tranmere, patience is in short supply. Rovers have now gone three games without a win in the early part of their first experience of fifth-tier football – including a home defeat Boreham Wood two weeks ago – and the mutterings from the terraces are growing louder.
Despite the fact that we are barely out of August, frustration is understandable. Consecutive relegations have left the crowd tired of losing and worn down by a perceived lack of effort from the team. And yet the root-and-branch change that is being demanded by supporters is already happening. Owners Mark and Nicola Palios have been in place for a year and, non-League football notwithstanding, the club are on a firm financial footing and trying to foster a greater sense of openness in communicating with the fans.
On the field, too, there are signs that the revolving door-policy of team selection that got us down here in the first place is being ditched, along with the very players that took us out of the League. Of last season’s legion, only club stalwart Steven Jennings, defender Liam Ridehalgh and fans’ scapegoat Cole Stockton show any signs of being regular picks under the new manager. The rest of the matchday squad are made up of new signings that Brabin hopes will gel together into a close-knit, effective group that can pull us back into League Two at the first time of asking.
This weekend we are off to the wilds of south-east London. That used to mean Millwall, but Saturday’s televised lunchtime kick-off will be at Park View Road, home of Welling United, a match which has the potential to see the lowest ever crowd for a competitive Tranmere league game.
Some will say that such opponents show how far we have fallen, but like everyone else, we are in this division on merit. Tranmere need to avoid thinking of themselves as a big club in a small-time league, while the fans need to show a little more forbearance while we settle in. Win on Saturday and we can start to look like credible members of the chasing pack. Slip up, and Brabin will be glad of a thick skin. Tristan Browning