Is former Shrewsbury manager Micky Mellon the right fit for Tranmere Rovers?
Tranmere Rovers started this season as many people’s favourites for promotion from the National League and back into League Two at the second time of asking. After relegation in 2014-15, Tranmere took a while to settle in their unfamiliar surroundings and dropped too many points early on that ultimately undermined their tilt at an immediate return to the Football League, ultimately missing out on the play-offs by two points.
This season, however, was meant to be different. They retained manager Gary Brabin, who had previously taken Luton Town to the National League play-off final, and brought in a number of experienced players to help push for promotion. In came Andy Cook from Barrow, who had scored 24 in 45 appearances for a side that finished mid-table, Wrexham’s player of the year Connor Jennings, and Jeff Hughes signed on a permanent deal after a relatively successful loan spell last season.
Added to a strong squad, things were looking promising, although a lack of defensive reinforcements was a potential worry. That said, the defence of the year before had been pretty solid and Rovers didn’t concede too many goals. Their problems were more with scoring them, so to add attacking options to the squad looked to many to be a decent strategy.
Things started off well for Brabin’s Tranmere side, who set the early pace in the division, winning six of their first seven games. However, fortunes turned quickly for the club as they went on to lose three of their next four games. The final game in this run, a 1-0 away loss to Sutton United, saw the club’s board take the decision to sack Brabin.
Since that decision, Tranmere have won one, drawn one and lost one, and now seem set to finally appoint their next permanent manager, in the form of former Tranmere player Micky Mellon.
Mellon has so far enjoyed an impressive start to his managerial career. He started out at Fleetwood Town, staying for five years as he won promotion to League Two before leaving the club sitting fourth in the League Two table, being sacked after a run of three straight defeats.
His next managerial appointment saw him take over at Shrewsbury Town following their recent relegation from League One. In his first season in charge, Mellon revamped the club’s playing staff and led the Shrews to automatic promotion back to League One, and the following year Mellon was just about able to keep them up. This season has, however, seen a continuation of the form that saw the club flirt with relegation last season, with just two league wins from eleven before he was headhunted by Tranmere.
On the face of it, Mellon seems like a good appointment for Rovers. He has vast experience at the National League level, having spent a good portion of his time at Fleetwood in the division. He also has experience of what is needed to win the division – his Fleetwood side broke the 100 point barrier on their way to promotion in 2012.
Mellon also has a lot of experience of managing in the Football League which, if he can get Tranmere promoted, would be an asset for the club. Indeed, he was arguably hard done by by former club Fleetwood, given that he was sacked whilst the club was on course for a second straight promotion.
Some may point to the struggles that he has had in recent times whilst managing Shrewsbury, but his defenders will point to a small budget as part of the reason he was not able to pull the club away from the relegation zone in League One. Given the recent history of Shrewsbury Town during the time they have spent in the third tier, Mellon’s side was floating at about par for the course – the Shrews were never likely to be doing much more than fighting against relegation. Plus, like last season there was every chance that Mellon would still be able to mastermind a revival and drag the club away from the relegation zone given time.
With his extensive history of management at National League level, his track record of promotions with both the clubs that he has managed, and his prior links to the club (he played over 150 league games for the club in the late 1990s and mid-2000s), Micky Mellon might well be just what Tranmere need to reinvigorate their promotion challenge. Some will argue that dropping down two divisions shows a potential lack of ambition, but the chance to return to a former club and lead them back to the Football League must have been the major factor in Mellon’s decision.
First things first, he needs to get his new squad reinvigorated and hope to get a win in his first game, a home tie against Wrexham. Whether he will be the right appointment, in the long run, is hard to tell, but he certainly has the credentials necessary to give him a decent shot at success at a club that desperately wants to be back in the Football League. All that is left to say is:
Welcome home, Micky. https://t.co/vLAVA54h0O
— Curt McArdle (@CurtMcArdle) October 6, 2016