So January has come to an end and with it the transfer window has closed. But how has it been for Tranmere Rovers as Micky Mellon has tried to bolster his squad for a play-off push?
The Rovers boss has signed a number of players as, with no emergency loan market, this is the set of players he’ll have to work with for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign.
So what do we make of the transfer activity that Tranmere have conducted in January?
All areas of the pitch have been bolstered with Micky’s signings, apart from goalkeeper where Shamal George returned to Liverpool and Luke Pilling has come back to be Scott Davies’ deputy.
The first signing of the window was David Perkins who arrived from Rochdale. The veteran midfielder signed a 18-month contract and brings a host of experience with him. Good on the ball, a calm head and a leader, Perkins has already showed glimpses of how good he is, and I think he’ll turn out to be an excellent addition to the squad in time.
Then came news of the signing of striker Ishmael Miller who had been released by Oldham Athletic. A big target man, who has good pace too, as well as experience of all four divisions of English football, he offers something different to the other forwards at the Club. Unfortunately, he picked up a hamstring injury and will be out for a few weeks, but we’ll hopefully see him back and being a handful for League Two defenders.
Young midfielder Harvey Gilmour turned his loan into a permanent transfer from Sheffield United. An energetic player in the middle of the park, Gilmour had an impressive run of games but just, perhaps, lacks that consistency at this stage of his career. Certainly a talented lad and one who Micky Mellon has a lot of faith in and wants to help improve, so another good addition.
Going out of the Club was Ritchie Sutton who joined fellow League Two side Morecambe. The central defender was a mainstay in the defence last season which helped Rovers get promoted. This season, his opportunity to play has been limited due to the form of Manny Monthe, so it’s only fair to the player to give him a chance to play more first team football. Disappointing to see him depart, as he’s proved to be a solid player for us, but can’t do anything but wish him well.
Last week, winger Ben Pringle was added to the squad on loan from Preston North End. At 29, he’s in his prime really, with plenty of Football League experience and good quality with his spell at Rotherham United a stand out. We’ve not seen much of him just yet, but with fans crying out for a return to 4-4-2, the signing of an exciting wide player can only be welcomed.
Of course, if you’re going to play with two wide players, you need another one, and Kieron Morris was brought in from Walsall. Again on loan until the end of the season, he appears to be a bright, quick winger who will excite the crowd too. He’s played a good number of games for The Saddlers this season, so it’s a bit of a surprise they’re letting him go, but appears to be a positive for us, so let’s see how he fares in a white shirt.
At the back, with Sutton’s departure to Morecambe, Mellon needed a replacement and it comes in the form of 23-year-old Millwall centre-back Sid Nelson. He needs no introduction to the division having spent the first half of the season with Swindon Town, and seems very highly thought of so again it seems to be a good signing.
And then finally, the return of a striker who made a big impression when he came into the side as a young player, Chris Dagnall. Now 32, he brings a wealth of experience and not only has he played with the manager, he’s worked with him as a coach when the pair were at Barnsley. He made his name as a ‘fox in the box’ type striker when he broke into the side as a teenager, and has scored goals at whichever club he has played for. If he can continue that back at Prenton Park, then he’ll prove to be a success.
So, overall, more ins than outs. Pretty much all areas of the squad have been added to. Plenty of Football League experience included in the players who have arrived, which can only be a benefit and help the squad along, so I believe it has been a decent month of transfer activity.
Of course, time will tell as to whether the new players live up to that and help the team kick on in the race for one of the play-off positions come the end of the season, but I think the squad appears stronger than it did at the end of December.
Best bit of business in the past month? The new contract for Micky Mellon! A manager who gets the club, who has experience of promotions, who is tactically astute and has a genuine passion for the football club. Oh and keeping hold of James Norwood. Without his goals, where would we be? Glad he remains a Rovers player.