We’ve been spoiled by an incredible couple of years at Tranmere, but Saturday’s defeat at Bolton was one of the worst performances by a Rovers team for some time.
The second half at the University of Bolton Stadium left a lot to be desired. It’s been rightly analysed and pulled apart by fans on social media and forums. There had been a few periods of unrest as moves broke down and tackles were shirked throughout the game, but the full-time whistle on Saturday was met with something we haven’t heard for some time.
Fans united in booing the team. Rovers had around 1,500 fans at the game, and those who remained at the full-time whistle made it clear to the players and management what they thought of the performance. It was a long way off what we expect. And this wasn’t a quality or ability thing – tackles weren’t made and many of the players simply did not fight for it in the second half, and that’s unacceptable.
However, it’s time to move on. Rovers have a run of three home games inside seven days coming up, and it represents a huge opportunity to get the momentum and togetherness back and put some foundations in place to get us out of this.
Prenton Park can be a horrible place for teams to come and play – enough opposition players and managers have said it down the years. On Tuesday night, Doncaster will arrive at Prenton Park desperate to add some more points to the board as they chase the play-offs.
However, if ever the term ‘wounded animal’ was to be used to describe Tranmere, then now is it. We’ve just a lost a key game against the bottom side who just happen to be a historic north-west rival. In the process of doing so, the players were left knowing in no uncertain terms that what they served up was way below what is expected of them. They are hurting as well. It’s a case of professional pride, if nothing else.
Then let’s add in some of the other circumstances. First, and the obvious one – Cookie is back. Regardless of how he plays, he’s going to give the fans an enormous lift and will be ready to bully and scream at anyone and everyone.
The pitch is going to play its part in preventing Doncaster from playing nice football. Manny is back from suspension and hopefully Blackett-Taylor will be contention as well.
So, it feels bad right now, but come 7:45pm on Tuesday night, it’s time for the fans and players to get back on the same side and begin landing some punches of our own in this relegation scrap.