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Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Inside Line: Tranmere Rovers (16/11/2013)


Over to Lewis Hancock for this week's preview...

Finally, a turn in the road for City leading towards a more upbeat and more optimistic future! Well, perhaps anyway.
Sean O’Driscoll’s ‘transitional phase’ has started to come together of late and with seven points from nine and a relatively comfortable victory over Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup, City are beginning to quash any qualms that some fans may have.
But some of the jury are still out at the moment and a trip away to Tranmere will not be the easiest of tasks.
Rovers take up the final spot in the drop zone with City merely a place above on goal difference and a win at Prenton Park could be what is needed to climb away from relegation scrap.
However, Tranmere have more concerning internal matters to deal with at present. Midfielder Joe Thompson has begun his six-month long chemotherapy after contracting cancer at just 24-years-old, something that really puts football and life into perspective.
I’ve spoken to Paul Harper, host of the@Total Tranmere podcast, and started by asking whether the fans were preparing to respect him with a minute’s applause on the minute of his squad number, or preparing anything of that ilk?

It was shocking news about Joe. You don't expect someone so young and so fit to get something like this. It certainly puts things into perspective and we are right behind him in his recovery. In the 7th minute, there will be a minute’s applause to demonstrate our support to Joe. I'm sure the Bristol City fans would like to show their support to him too, so if you'd like to get involved in that applause that would be fantastic. The match after the news was revealed we played away at Preston and their club and supporters were fantastic and I'm sure the Robins fans will be no different. Like you say, it puts football into perspective.
Your club are in talks with various parties over a potential sale. What will a change in owners mean for Tranmere Rovers? Are you hopeful of the Tranmere Rovers Trust taking over?

It appears that chairman Peter Johnson is actively looking to sell the club in the near future. He has been looking to do so for a number of years now, but it seems that the time is coming ever closer. He has been fantastic for the club, saving us back in 1987 when the club almost fell out of the Football League, and has done a great deal in his tenure at the helm of the club. In terms of new owners, it's a time of a bit of uncertainty really. The Trust are looking to takeover and I do like the idea of being a community club ran by the supporters with the best interests of the club. However, I am a little sceptical about how it may work longer term. They have some good ideas about increasing revenue coming in to the club, but whether it would make community ownership sustainable then I must say I do have one or two doubts.
Ryan Lowe has been in good form this season, scoring seven goals in all competitions. What does he bring to the Rovers set up? Is he pivotal in the way you play?

Ryan Lowe is a goal-scorer, pure and simple. He's been vital for us, especially in the last few weeks when he has been leading the line up front on his own. He only needs one chance to stick the ball in the net, which is lucky because we only seem to be providing him with one chance per game! Hopefully, we can give him some more service so he can get us a few more goals and help fire us up the table.
Who else should City fans watch out for they make the trip to Prenton Park?

Now that would be telling! Depends which formation Ronnie Moore goes with. If he sticks with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 then Abdulai Baggie for me is a key player. He's the only player we have with electric pace. And if we're counter attacking teams, then he's key to that. He has quick feet, can beat a player and deliver a good cross. If he has a good game, then he will cause the Bristol City defence problems undoubtedly.
You currently sit fourth from bottom in League One, is that a fair reflective on how you’ve played so far? Did you consider the possibility of a relegation scrap prior to the start of the season?

In all honesty, it is a fair reflection, yes. We've been pretty poor so far this season, although recent form has picked up and we're playing a lot better than we were at the start of the season. We did have a lot of injury problems early season and a lot of those players are on their way back so the squad is looking stronger again. I try not to consider relegation! I was looking at a mid-table finish pre-season, and I think that is still achievable if we continue to improve as we have been.
How does Ronnie Moore set his side up to play?

Ronnie has nearly always been a rigid 4-4-2 manager. But with the players we had missing, and the poor results we were getting, he changed to a 4-5-1/4-3-3 system and it has worked well. We are more difficult to break down and defensively are looking more solid. In the opening few games, we were getting torn apart too easily and that had to stop which it has. I think against the better teams he will persist with the 4-5-1.
Finally, can I have a prediction for Saturday’s match?

Hopefully a Rovers win, obviously! I'm expecting a very difficult game though, so maybe more realistically a draw.


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