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Rupert Wyman 11th Oct 2009 - 20:04

The season starts here for Tranmere

Tranmere Rovers finally sacked their management team of John Barnes and Jason McAteer on Friday after a dismal start to the League 1 season which sees Rovers third from bottom in the table with just seven points from 11 matches.

Barnes will be extremely fortunate to ever get a chance in the British game again after a previous atrocious spell in charge of Celtic and now this latest debacle in his management career.

Tranmere have appointed physio Les Parry as caretaker manager for the time being and this will at least get the fans back on side after they grew disillusioned with life with the ex-Liverpool and England winger at the helm.

Parry is a legend at Prenton Park and his temporary appointment could well galvanise the Super Whites and help them to just a third league win of the season against Stockport County on Monday night.

Tranmere are the 11/8 favourites to win the match and I expect them to do so as it was clear that the players were far from organised under Barnes and Parry should at least be able to do this.

Rovers are helped by the fact they are facing fellow strugglers Stockport who have had their own trials and tribulations. The latest of their frequent financial troubles saw them lose many of their better players in the summer as well as their highly-rated manager Jim Gannon who departed for the SPL and Motherwell.

County started the season as odds-on relegation favourites and one could argue they have actually done better than expected under new boss Gary Ablett as the Hatters sit fifth from bottom, one point outside the relegation zone.

They too have won just two league matches so far this term and are priced at 2/1 for an away success here. The draw is a 9/4 shot.

Stockport actually have a better away record than at home this season as they have only suffered one defeat on the road and that was to top-of-the-table Leeds.

Nevertheless Tranmere actually have more quality in their team than the visitors with players like Ian Goodison, Paul McLaren, John Welsh, Chris Shuker, Alan Mahon, Ian Thomas-Moore and Michael Ricketts. This is despite the fact that they lost the quality of Antony Kay, Andy Taylor and Danny Coyne in the summer.

Tranmere were always expected to not match the heights of last term under the experienced Ronnie Moore - when they missed out on the play-offs by one goal to eventual winners Scunthorpe. However, with the players in the squad they should be comfortable in midtable rather than their current perilous position.

Three points here wouldn't take them out of the bottom four, indeed they would not even move up a position but they would move to within one point of Stockport and thus safety.

For the match at Prenton Park Stockport will again be without striker Oli Johnson. Top scorer Carl Baker will be the main threat on Luke Daniels' goal and he is 6/4 to notch his seventh league goal of the campaign and his tenth in all competitions.

The other main threat will be Nicholas Bignall who is on-loan from Reading. The young striker has two goals in six starts and looks extremely good value at 11/2 to get his third goal in his loan spell.

For Tranmere one cap wonder Ricketts (7/4 to score) will probably lead the line but he was far from prolific for Walsall last season and he has only managed to get himself on the scoresheet once this term. Thomas-Moore is Ricketts' most likely partner up front and he is the top scorer for the Super Whites with three goals to his name and he is 6/4 to add to his tally against Stockport.

The best bet for a Tranmere scorer at the prices though is tricky winger Chris Shuker at a generous looking 7/1 to score first and 2/1 at anytime.

Tranmere won the second most home games last season in League 1 with 15 victories and with the fans no doubt fully behind club legend Les Parry and the players wanting to prove themselves then Rovers should take the points and send Stockport back to Edgeley Park pointless.



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