Friday, August 28, 2009

Tranmere preview

Any natural optimism that Addicks fans must feel in advance of this fixture, would be tempered by a quick look at recent results between the clubs.

Throughout most of the 1990s, we enjoyed regular battles in football's second-tier, but one has to go back to 1974/75 for Charlton's last victory at Prenton Park. However six of the last eight meetings on their patch have seen the teams share the points.

The most painful memory of matches against Tranmere however, came at Upton Park rather than Prenton Park, when our brave and unexpected challenge for the play-offs was effectively ended by a 1-0 midweek defeat in our final home game of 1991/92.

Indeed those heady days for the Wirral club clearly marked a historic peak in their fortunes, forever in the shadow of bigger neighbours just across the Mersey. They even took to playing regular home games on a Friday night in an attempt to boost attendances.

Despite already being 32 when he made his debut, John Aldridge would register 174 goals for Tranmere as both player and player-manager, but he took them down to the third tier in 2001, where they have remained ever since.

Now another John with Liverpool connections sits behind the manager's desk at Prenton Park, a surprise appointment for Barnes following the dismissal of fellow ex-Addick, Ronnie Moore in the summer. A harsh punishment for failing to reach the play-offs on the final day of 2008/9.

Given his unceremonious brief spell as Celtic manager beginning in 1999, it was an unusual appointment, and one which smacked of a short-termist desire to boost the club's image, rather than a considered decision. Indeed strange comments about Moore's effect on attendances suggested as much.

Barnes is supported by local lad, Jason McAteer who had a reputation for being one of the less intelligent footballers (and there was much competition).

It is not clear whether this was deserved, but as a pairing, it does not bode well and early results are not promising either.

One would expect them to be a footballing side however, and perhaps one which is merely taking time to adapt to a new system rather than fundamentally flawed. They only dropped 19 points at home last season, so must be respected if not exactly feared.

Phil Parkinson will take confidence from the fact that fellow pace-setters Leeds beat Tranmere with ease last weekend. Hopefully minor injuries to Jose Semedo and Fraser Richardson, will not prevent the selection of the fifth consecutive unchanged side.

I return to the USA this weekend, with fond memories of three victories witnessed. The next couple of days could be vital for the club with the failure to complete the ridiculously protracted takeover, possibly requiring last-minute transfers before the window closes.

Nothing could do more to stop this momentum of optimism in its tracks, than the forced sale of a key member of what is developing into an impressive and balanced team.

NY Addick predicts: Tranmere 0, Charlton 1 (Burton). Att: 7,033.


At 2:43 PM, Blogger StoneMuse said...

Hope you are right mate, 1-0 would do me!


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