New Tranmere manager latest – the likely and unlikely candidates

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It’s been almost a month since Micky Mellon was sacked by Tranmere, but are we any closer to finding out who will replace him?

In the aftermath of his sacking, and even before Mellon was dismissed, fans on social media hoped that there would be a plan in place. Not just a handing over to Ian Dawes until the end-of-the-season to watch more dull, uninspiring football while we waited for applications to come in.

Well, while news is thin on the ground, that’s kind of what’s happened by all accounts. Dawes continues to try and steady the ship and did record a win against Swindon on Easter Monday before another car crash of a perfomance at Crawley on Saturday. There has been no real improvement in the enjoyment factor of what is being served up – somewhat of a problem when the club is trying to sell season tickets.

On that point, while Rovers have some of the most expensive tickets in League Two and sales continue to slowly stumble toward 1,000, a bit of positive manager news would help perk things up and generate some excitement.

In his programme notes last Monday, Chairman Mark Palios said the club had received a “significant number of applications” for the managers job and that they would be looking over the next couple of weeks to select someone who can take the club forward. So, which names are believed to be in the frame?

Unlikely candidates

When the job first became available, the bookies led with Karl Robinson and Danny Cowley as hot-favourites. Fanciful, it seems. Pretty much every Rovers fan would have happily taken either, but given the finances either would have need from both a salary perspective and playing budget side of things, it always felt very unlikely. 

They’re the type of appointments that may have driven some excitement and helped increase season ticket sales, but it seems we are worlds away from those types of targets.

We can also almost certainly discount Dave Challinor who is doing excellently at Stockport, though his assistant Clint Hill has had some mentions on social media and in the longer odds with bookmakers. 

Likely lads

David Artell seems to be among the front-runners, the former Crewe boss still out of work after leaving The Alex last year. He was recently in the running for the Swindon job but was overlooked for Jody Morris.

Others worth a mention are Chesterfield’s Paul Cook, an ex-Tranmere player of course, and former Wigan boss Leam Richardson, though again that one seems very unlikely.

Right now then, the three latest names doing the rounds on social media and forums that appear to fit the mould of having worked with and developed young players. They are:

Brian Barry-Murphy – former Rochdale boss with a progressive playing style and some form for developing young players. He gave several youngsters debuts at Rochdale, not least Luke Matheson, and is currently at Manchester City in the role of Lead Coach of the Elite Development Squad. The 44 year-old is said to be highly-rated in the game, but may be reluctant to leave his job at City.

Matthew Etherington – while he had a very brief spell in charge of Crawley earlier this season, he should not be judged on his time there – it was three games and if you do any amount of reading about Crawley, well, you’ll know the score. The former West Ham winger has been cutting his teeth in the coaching game with Peterborough. He was appointed U18 manager with the Posh in 2018 and has since been first team assistant manager and interim manager.

Graeme Murty – the link with Murty is another interesting one. The former Reading defender spent several years at Rangers in Scotland as Head Coach of the under-20s team, but also had two spells as first team manager, one temporary in early 2017 and then he was appointed permanently later that year but lasted only six months. He returned to his previous role with U20s but moved to Sunderland in 2021 to lead the club’s under-21 squad. He’s another highly-rated coach that seems to fit the blueprint of developing players while also having some management experience. He is though widely linked with the Reading vacancy and is a front-runner for the Oxford United job. 

A crucial appointment

It’s accurate to say that this next appointment is one of the most important the club have made in several years. Since Mark and Nicola Palios purchased the club in 2014, only one appointment has truly worked out. We are back bumbling along in the middle ground of League Two and in desperate need of something resembling promise and excitement heading into next season. 

Whoever the owners decide to pick, the fans will back them, probably after a few grumbles on social media first, as is the way of the modern world. We are all rooting for them to get it right and doing so could make an enormous difference to the club’s finances in the coming years. Well, the coming months.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that April early bird season ticket deadline extended once the new manager is announced as a positive PR/marketing campaign is launched to get fans chomping at the bit for next season.

Aside from the manager, massive squad changes are also required. It’s going to be a fascinating few months. 

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