Tranmere’s failure to score against Chester on Saturday was the NINTH match this season they have failed to find the net in. Where do the problems lie?
When the new season kicked-off back in August, optimism among Rovers fans was probably at an all-time high in terms of getting out of this division. Following a 95-point haul last time around, Micky Mellon’s seasoned squad was prepped for another pop at the title.
However, what has transpired in the first couple of months of the season is an obvious lack of goals. Despite now having what you’d consider SIX first team strikers on the books, plus a host of other players who could probably be capable ‘of doing a job in front’ (think Connor Jennings, Jack Dunn), Rovers are woefully short in the scoring department.
You only have to look at the stats of Tranmere top scorers for the season to see that we’ve been incredibly shy in front of goal, to put it politely. Andy Cook leads the way with four goals, James Norwood with three, Ollie Norburn with two, and then Mangan and McEveley with a goal each. 11 goals in total.
The cold hard truth is, failing it score in nine out of 15 matches this season is a hell of a long way short of what is needed. For all the plaudits being taken by goalkeepers, such as Chester’s James Lynch, the fact is that the finishing has been poor, and the amount of chances created this season simply insufficient.
In an article earlier this week, we discussed whether the loss of attacking full-back Lee Vaughan has impacted on the team’s inability to stretch teams and create the number of chances we need to score goals from. Let’s not forget, we scraped a lot of wins by the odd goal last season – taking that efficiency in front of goal away, and we find ourselves struggling.
Confidence, luck or quality? Or lack of.
It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly where things are going wrong for Rovers. Let’s look at these three key areas:
Confidence: Considering the fact that both Andy Cook and James Norwood are scoring goals, albeit slowly, surely confidence cannot carry too much blame – or not in front of goal. Should we be looking at a lack of confidence elsewhere in the team? A confidence to try a cutting through ball from midfield? Confidence to throw a cross in earlier instead of trying to carve out the perfect chance?
Quality: This is an interesting one, as regardless of what you think of the forwards Rovers have available (Cook, Norwood, Waring, Alabi, Mangan, McDonagh), they have all scored goals during their careers, some of them prolifically so. So, that leads you to think that the ability is there. Are we creating enough chances? Almost certainly not. Does this suggest a lack of quality coming out wide, or from midfield? Are we sitting too deep due to the lack of pace at the back?
Luck: Some have pointed to Rovers just being down on their luck, but luck only gets you so far. We’ve scored a few late goals already that we expected to be the catalyst for a better run of form and it didn’t happen. But Rovers cannot simply rely on luck and referees decisions for the goals to begin flying in.
The truth is, we’re probably short in all three of these areas. Not creating enough chances due to quality, luck and confidence, and thus the strikers – working under the same pressures – are having less to work with. They’re spending longer playing outside of the box or running out wide.
Something else to consider; is the competition for places just too much among the forwards?
Do the players starting up front need to feel a little more comfortable, or loved, in their position so they can focus on relaxing and composing themselves in front of goal?
Rovers take a break from league action when they go to Halifax in the FA Cup this week, the pressure is once again on for this team to begin finding some goals.